Experts, academics to discuss NATO policy at Montgomery campus

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Lirona Joshi 

Staff Writer

Troy University’s Montgomery campus will be hosting “NATO at Seventy”, a conference celebrating the seventieth anniversary of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Nov. 1 and 2. 

The two-day conference will see diplomats, academics, military experts and policy makers gather at the Montgomery campus to discuss the past, present and future of the Atlantic Alliance. The conference, funded by the NATO Public Diplomacy Grant, will feature panel discussions, presentations and talks by experts from various fields.

“The reason for this conference and why we chose to apply for this grant is because NATO just turned 70 this year,” said Michael Slobodchikoff, associate professor of political science. “This is a big deal.” 

NATO was founded as a collective security organization to protect member states from the Soviet Union and from its organizations called the Warsaw pact. 

“We have had NATO forces stationed deployed around the world since 2001,” said Slobodchikoff. “And if you are not personally deployed, you know someone who is deployed, so this is important to see from the perspective of the people who are deploying our soldiers.”

Dignitaries attending the conference include His Excellency George Cristian Maior, Romania’s Ambassador to the United States, plus diplomatic representatives from Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, and Poland. Along with the diplomats, the event will bring scholars who will host four panels on the topics of history of NATO, hybrid and cyber threats, current regional operations and future threats.

“We have the former ambassador to NATO, Robert Hunter, coming to speak. He is responsible for NATO’s enlargement under the Clinton administration,” Slobodchikoff said.

According to Slobodchikoff, Hunter was influential in providing NATO with a sense of purpose in the aftermath of the Cold War after the Soviet Union.

“This is a really huge deal, and it’s totally free for the Troy University students to attend,” said G. Doug Davis, associate professor of political science. “We are providing buses to take from the university here to Montgomery.”

According to Davis, the conference is set to serve as a regional event, with potential attendees encompassing not only nearby states but also individuals from Washington D.C.

“Troy University students will get to see what international relations is and what international affairs are first-hand,” Davis said. “And this conference will prepare them from jobs in Washington D.C., government jobs or consulting jobs to seeing how the military works for those who are interested in the military.”

For Leandro Guimaraes Froes, a graduate international relations major from Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, the conference is a perfect opportunity to not only increase his practical knowledge surrounding the organization but also a mixer opportunity with professionals from the field.

“The topics of national security, Russia, China and NATO have been present in political discussions in the past years, and we have seen misinformation being spread by powerful leaders,” Froes said. “Thus, I recommend Troy students and the public to attend this conference, and be fully aware on the matter of NATO, national and international security.”

Slobodchikoff also stressed the importance of this event as another step in advancing the internationalization of the Troy University experience, with both local and international students getting an opportunity to examine a key international organization.

The  conference will commence at the Troy University Montgomery Campus on Friday, Nov. 1, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will resume on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at 4:30 p.m. 

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