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Hemispheric Defense College Opens 38th Annual Course

September 3, 1998

Military officers from around the hemisphere have begun an 11 month course of study with the Washington-based Inter-American Defense College. The convocation ceremony for the 38th annual course was held on Wednesday at the headquarters of the Organization of American States where the students were presented before the gathering of diplomats, military officials and others.

In the program of study, the 61 course participants from 15 countries--with some civilians among their ranks--will receive in-depth training on the inter-American system, covering such topics as the international and hemispheric situation, and collective security and defense.

Guest speaker for the course inauguration, Brigadier General Josť Miguel Soto of the Dominican Republic Army issued a challenge to the participants, reiterating to them the changing circumstances in which military establishments have to operate and the new approach to the concepts of security and against the backdrop of a new post-Cold War world order that all this demands.

AThe integrationist trends along with economic globalization have been and are powerful ingredients that have forced our nations to redefine their strategies for viable development,@ he told the students as he stressed, nonetheless, that Athe function of defense and security is, and always will be fundamental to the existence of states.@

In his capacity as chairman of the OAS Permanent Council, Uruguay=s permanent representative, Ambassador Antonio Mercader, urged them to take the most advantage of the Amagnificent opportunity to interact with colleagues from other countries of the hemisphere.@ He also commended College for making the course dynamic and relevant by including such aspects as computer studies.

Major General John C. Thompson of the United States Army, director of the College, welcomed the new entrants to the convocation program which was followed by a reception.

An arm of the Inter-American Defense Board which was established in 1942, the Inter-American Defense College seeks to hone the problem-solving skills of its students by exposing them to a wide variety of novel ideas and methods relevant to the challenges of the future, for the sake of the inter-American system.

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