How does it feel to be back?
It feels excellent! As a soldier, I have been linked to Poland since 2002. To start with, I was a military student at the National Defence University in Warsaw and, some years later, the German liaison officer to this university. Afterwards, I was offered to man the post of the Branch Chief Policy in the Headquarters in Szczecin. I served here for 3 years and 3 months. It has been a great experience. Now I am back after having completed my service in Naples. Both for me and my wife, it is outstanding to have returned to Szczecin.
Multinationality is an undeniable value
Talking about your new position, what are your duties as the Political Adviser to the Commander?
Indeed, it is to some extent a new position. For the time being, it is a so-called German voluntary contribution. My duties include analyzing political and political-military environment around the Headquarters. It starts with being up-to-date with all current activities on higher command levels within NATO, which might have an impact on the Corps and giving all necessary advice to the Commander. In addition, it is very important to include information related to our Area of Operations, namely Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as well as Hungary and Slovakia. The knowledge about political issues within those nations is an essential element of our situational awareness. It is also crucial to be linked to the Ministries of Defence of our three Framework Nations and, therefore, to stay informed on all intents and actions affecting the future of the Corps. Also, whenever the Commander pays a visit to any of our Participating States, it will be my task to give him an overview on ongoing issues.
Colonel Frank Ennen (German Army) has been appointed as the Political Adviser to the Commander MNC NE.
And what does it take? Is it an individual effort or a group achievement?
The key is to have an established network within the political advisers' community in NATO. Equally important is to have a smooth information flow within the Headquarters, especially in close connection with the J5 and J9 Staff Divisions, with the Public Affairs Office and with J2. It is not only me who provides contribution to this kind of assessment – no, it is the other way round: I am just a part of a common team effort for the benefit of the Headquarters.
How do you perceive the Corps after a two-year break?
I have observed a tremendous development. I joined the Headquarters in mid 2012. Back then, we were very much focused on providing training on demand. The things have taken a different turn in 2014. Having had a growing Ukrainian crisis, we were very much aware of the justified need for a new structure. Later on, the changes coming out of the Wales Summit and the Readiness Action Plan have followed. And today, I came back to an operational headquarters, which is focusing on and dealing with day-to-day operations.
Is there anything that you have been missing about this Headquarters on a professional level?
I do cherish the fact that this Headquarters is a real multinational one. From 14 nations in 2014 to 25 nations today – this is really impressive! Paradoxically, the fact that most of us are not native English speakers makes it sometimes even easier to communicate. We have to adjust and make sure that we are very clear in what we want to say. However, the main benefit regarding the nations' composition is the fact that you already have a great and unique expertise in the Headquarters at your disposal. Multinationality is an undeniable value.