NATO’s flanks were particularly exposed areas and trouble spots during the Cold War era. On the one hand, NATO was able to employ only relatively limited forces in those areas, while on the other, political and military events and conflicts brought the regions repeatedly into the spotlight. Even after the “turnaround“ of 1990, peace and stability did not set in automatically. On the contrary – the ongoing problems and dangers continued to bring the flanks – unlike the central front, which more or less dissolved after German reunification – into the focus of public interest.
In the coming years and decades, the entire region will probably become even more important. This applies not only to the southeastern border regions of the Alliance area, with a view to the Middle East, but also to the allies in the Mediterranean and eventually the Alliance as a whole. In view of increasing refugee movements, the continued unsettled domestic situation in the North African states after the Arab spring, which has been followed by power struggles and competition for resources in the Central African region, calls not only for economic and political assistance from the European Union, which particularly in the south faces its own serious problems (the EURO crisis, which is having a considerable impact on all the partner states). The establishment of new security structures in those regions also poses new challenges to the NATO community.
The alliance history of the flanks on the one hand provides an excellent historical background for historical-political orientation concerning NATO and its member states and on the other serves to point out problems and as a background for today's crises and conflicts.
The Potsdam Center of Military History and Social Sciences has therefore decided to organize a workshop on the topic of NATO’s flanks during the East-West conflict and since the “turnaround” in 1990. The history of issues concerning out-of-area regions which have increased since the 1990s, also plays a prominent role.
The workshop will be organized as follows (provisional program):
Panel 1 – The Northern and the Southern Flank of NATO – Second Rate Regions in the Cold War?
(Section on policy and history on NATO’s flanks)
Panel 2 – Military Defence of the NATO Flanks – Assets and Problems
(Section on military strategy and operations (e.g. NATO exercises)).
Panel 3 – From Finmark to Global Cold War – The NATO Flanks in general strategic perspectives
(Section on the importance of the Persian Gulf and global aspects in relation to NATO’s flanks)
The workshop is intended for historians, political scientists and military representatives from the Bundeswehr, NATO and its partner countries. Interested members from the general public are also warmly welcomed.
Participation is free of charge, and speakers will be given free accommodation and get their travel expenses reimbursed.
The workshop will be held at the Center of Military History and Social Sciences in Potsdam and will be organized by Bernd Lemke and Stefan Brenner. Researchers, representatives and decision makers interested in participating in the workshop are requested to apply (cv and short abstract of the paper) to Bernd Lemke by e-mail (Dr.Bernd1Lemke@bundeswehr.org), stating their contact information, by 31 July 2013.
Zentrum für Militärgeschichte und Sozialwissenschaften Potsdam
(Potsdam Center of Military History and Social Sciences)
+49-331-9714 - 564 or - 443 (phone)
+49-331-9714 - 507 (fax)
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