By Robert D. Martin, USAWC Public Affairs 12 October 2017
In a unique International Hall of Fame ceremony last week, the Army War College recognized two outstanding international alumni, Oct 12 in Bliss Hall. Both inductees are from the Estonian Army and were Estonia’s Land Forces Commander at one time.
Brig. Gen. Indrek Sirel, class of 2009 was appointed the Deputy Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces in July 2016. Brig. Gen. Artur Tiganik, class of 2011, has served since July 2016 as Estonia’s military representative at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe. They are respectively, the 64th and 65th inductees into the Hall of Fame.
International Fellows Program Director Col. Frank Intini introduced each, in turn, to the Bliss Hall audience of leadership, faculty, students and former colleagues of Sirel and Tiganik. After the formal induction ceremony with War College Commandant Maj. Gen. John Kem, each spoke to the student body, reflecting on how they applied their war college education.
Brig. Gen. Indrek Sirel
“This year is an opportunity to reflect on your profession,” said Sirel. “You are really on the turning point of your career where you probably will not do anymore of that small tactical stuff. From here you use the strategy taught and go do the big stuff.”
As Deputy Commander of Estonian Defense Forces, Sirel advises and assists the Chief of Defense on EDF, training, development and educational questions. His main focus is on the land forces.
“Understand the landpower environment, it’s a great opportunity to look and understand how to better your service. Look at what the military instrument is doing, and how to cooperate with other services and agencies,” he said. “ I recommend to you, to really think about what this is – Landpower-- what we contribute to the bigger picture, how we can do better with other services, agencies and as well, with our allies.”
“Leadership – with all the readings and discussions, as well with the leadership development program you hear from three and four star leaders speaking in this hall. It’s not so much as where you put the comma, or how the word defenses is spelled through oxford or English dictionaries. It’s about you the leader, to create an environment where your subordinates can excel. This will be your task,” he finished.
Brig. Gen. Sirel joined the Estonian Defense Forces in 1993. He attended the Army Command and General Staff College Course at Fort Leavenworth 1999-2000. In 2004 he deployed with International Security Assistance Force VI as a Staff Officer, CJ3 plans, and served as well as the Senior National Representative of the Estonian ISAF contingent during the deployment.
In 2005-2006 he assumed Command of the Scouts Battalion, moving on in 2006 to be the Chief of Staff, Land Forces Headquarters and simultaneously fulfilling the position of Acting Commander of the Estonian Land Forces. He was appointed Commander, Estonian Land Forces in 2008 and held that position until 2012.
Brig. Gen. Artur Tiganik
“When I first came here, our first gathering in Bliss Hall. Maj. Gen. Martin was the commandant,” said Tiganik. He was very enthusiastic and his first words to us were ‘This will be the best year of your entire career.’ Now, going through the War College, being in the service in Estonia and now at SHAPE, that was a great year,” he said, noting that his year of studies was an important opportunity to spend time with his family.
“Critical thinking, strategic thinking helped me a lot later on in my career. Campaign planning and strategic exercises help me the most,” he said about the long-term value of his coursework here. We continuously used critical and strategic thinking. We learned to negotiate during these exercises. We were very tough on each other, we learned from each other especially the international fellows.
“We learned how to listen to people, how to try to understand everyone’s biases, opinions and their interests,” said Tiganik. “If you understand their interest you will succeed in negotiations. This has help with my assignment in the NATO environment.”
Tiganik graduated from the Basic Officers’ Course in Ryazan Airborne Military Academy, Soviet Union, and commanded Estonian units from platoon level up to battalion of the Kalev Single Infantry Battalion.
In 2005, he was appointed to the International Security Assistance Forces mission in Afghanistan as CJ3 Staff Officer. Between 2005 and 2006 Tiganik was Chief of the Training Department in the Estonian National Defense College. From 2009 to 2012, he commanded Land Forces HQ as Chief of Staff; form 2012 until 2014, he served as Estonia’s Land Forces Commander. Between 2014 and 2016, Tiganik served as Deputy Chief of Estonian Defense Forces.
The Army War College Hall of Fame provides a prestigious and visible means of honoring International Fellow graduates who have attained through military merit the highest position in their nation’s Armed Forces or who have held an equivalent position by rank or responsibility in a multi-national military organization.