Many folks have written asking why I have been so slow in updating the blog. Being unable to update it on a daily basis has been a concern to me but I have been here, there and everywhere which has made it rather difficult to do daily updates. Hopefully, I shall be able to catch up on the blog and several other outstanding issues over the next couple of days.
A few weeks ago I was contacted via the blog asking if I would consider attending the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. I was very honoured to be invited as a panellist to the 14th St Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia. My participation as a panellist was on the session related to “New Models of cooperation for the Military Industry”.
Once known as Petrograd and as Leningrad, St Petersburg is a beautiful city and is indeed a massive museum under the Russian sky. As I love history and art, there was no shortage of places to visit and sites to see.
The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum is held with the support and participation of the President of the Russian Federation. The aim of the Forum is to gather the world's leading decision makers from government, business and civil society to identify and deliberate the key challenges facing emerging markets and the world and engage communities to find common purpose and frameworks to forge solutions.
One thing that has always struck me on this type of travel is the kindness of strangers. Mr Sergey Nedoroslev, the Chairman of the Board of Kaskol, noting my confusion, stepped in to help me on numerous fronts. I was also privileged to meet some of his friends and associates which included Mr Nikolai Kovarsky, Mr Evgeny Tarlo and the son of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Mr Sergey also made sure that I knew where I had to be at what time.
The Forum was officially opened by President Dmitry Medvedev, the President of the Russian Federation on the 18 June and he was joined by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the 19 June.
The panel session on New Models for Cooperation for the Military Industry was very ably moderated by Charles Grant, the Director for the Centre of European Reform. Fellow panellists were Vice Admiral Premvir Das (Indian Navy), Aleksei Alyoshin (First Deputy Director General, Russian Technologies State Corporation), Alexey Isaikin (President, Volga-Dnepr Group), Douglas Harned (Vice Pres, Senior Analyst – Aerospace and Defence, Sanford C Bernstein and Co) and Emeric d’Arcimoles (Senior Exec Vice Pres and Chairman of SAFRAN USA, Inc).
Although my small input was focussed on Africa in the main, I thought the comments by my fellow panellists were very interesting and enlightening. However, I still believe that too much emphasis is being placed on technology and terminology changes – and too little on really preparing soldiers for their missions.