2024 Tunisian National Defense Institute National Security Seminar

From 16–24 April 2024, the Near East South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies, in partnership with U.S. Africa Command, held its annual Tunisian National Defense Institute (TNDI) National Security Seminar for 45 senior government officials from 14 Tunisian agencies, as well as the President’s Office. This is the 13th year in the NESA-AFRICOM partnership with the Tunisian National Defense Institute. Joining the program from the Embassy of the Republic of Tunisia here in Washington, D.C. were Elkansa Arfaoui Harbaoui (TNDI 2022), Counselor and the Defense Attaché S. Col Ferid Amor (TNDI 2019).

Led by its Director, Sr Col Lotfi Dridi, the TNDI is a year-long Ministry of Defense program that is now in its 41st year. It brings a diverse group of interagency representatives together twice each week for an academic year to advance whole-of-government approaches to critical national security and political challenges. Each class is assigned a unique research theme by the Minister of Defense. This year’s assignment was entitled “National Strategy: The Impact of Climate Change on Security, the Economy and Society.” This year’s theme complements the 2023 theme “Food and Energy Security Impacts of the Ukraine War” and is indicative of the recent shift away from more traditional security threats to emphasize non-traditional threats, such as health, food and water, energy, crime, migration, as well as climate change. The objective of the program is to better inform Tunisia policymakers going forward as they address the security, economic, and social ramifications felt in Tunisia resulting from climate change and how best to develop new policy options as the country moves forward.

Group photograph of the Tunisian National Defense Institute Security Seminar (held from 16–24 April 2024) with Her Excellency Ambassador Hanene Tajouri, Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia to the U.S.


The seminar for the Class 41 was held in Washington, D.C. and led by Course Director, Professor Anne Moisan. The course was centered on assisting the participants in their assigned research and to better equip them as Tunisia continues its democratic transition as the country addresses the short and long term challenges of climate change. Sessions focused on long-term global trends, ongoing opportunities and challenges associated with Tunisia-U.S. bilateral relations, climate impacts in North Africa, insights on possible Biden Administration African foreign policy, the future direction of U.S. Government engagements, as well as on information pertinent to the class’s assigned theme on developing practical climate policy recommendations. To that end, participants received presentations from ten speakers and spent two sessions in three smaller breakout groups strategizing and refining their policy proposals. The breakout groups allowed them to deep dive into the ramifications of climate change on security, on the economy and on society.  This more effectively leveraged the expertise from the various security and non-security ministries, as well as highlighting the unique perspectives women bring to the strategy discussions. Presentations began with a series provided by Dr. Michael Brown, Professor at George Washington University on “Regional Trends and Security Threats: Ten Priorities for the 2020s and Beyond”; Her Excellency Ambassador Hanene Tajouri, Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia to the U.S. on “Tunisia-US Bilateral Relations”; Patrick Coughlin, Acting Deputy Director for North Africa and Tunisian Desk Officer, Office of North African Affairs, U.S. State Dept. and COL Raymond Mattox (USA),  North Africa Regional Director, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs, Office of the Under Secretary for Defense for Policy on “The U.S. Evolving Role in Africa”; and BG Michelle R. Mulberry (USAF), Director of the Joint Staff, Joint Forces Headquarters, Wyoming National Guard/State Partnership Program with Tunisia on “U.S. Defense/WYNG: Security Partners in Africa.”

People sitting around a table.
Participants in breakout groups working on tabletop exercises.


The seminar also took a deeper dive into the assigned theme with analyses and policy development processes/models to include the “Futures Wheel” introduced by Dr. Jerome Glenn, Co-founder and CEO, The Millennium Project on “Futures Research and Black Swans;” Dr. Marcus King, Professor of Practice and Director of the Masters of Science in Environmental and International Affairs at Georgetown University on “Climate Change, Security, Economy and Society;” Dr. Kelly Ward (COL USA ret), the Interim Dean of Faculty and Academic Programs, National War College, National Defense University on “Climate Change, Environmental Justice and Social Equity;” Dr. Marissa Ensor, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security (GIWPS), Gender Climate and Security Program and Justice & Studies Program, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University on “Climate, Women and Conflict;” and Dr. Erin Sikorsky, Director at the Center for Climate and Security on “Climate and Security.” The program concluded with two brainstorming breakout group sessions dedicated to developing specific policy recommendations, required actions and resourcing options available. Auditeurs were assigned to one of three groups looking at the specific impacts on Climate Change on security, the economy and society. The tabletop exercise used a version of Jerome Glenn’s “Futures Wheel.” Results from the exercise will be used in the refinement of the Strategy White Paper the class will deliver to the MOD and Presidents’ office in June/July 2024 upon their graduation.

As part of the NESA Center partnership with the Tunisian Embassy in Washington, D.C, Ambassador Hanene Tajouri, Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia to the U.S., welcomed the group, presented an extended session on U.S.-Tunisian Bilateral Relations, and held a private reception in honor of the NDI participants at the Tunisian Embassy. Ambassador Tajouri, Deputy Chief of Mission Anis HAJEI, Counselor Elkansa Arfaoui Harbaoui and the Defense Attaché S. Col Ferid Amor joined the informal Farewell Lunch at the Chart House in historic Old Town Alexandria.

This program has evolved over thirteen years to be a successful shared-cost partnership with NESA-AFRICOM and the Tunisian NDI consisting of 46 senior government officials and faculty came from 14 Tunisian ministries. Participants included 33 from the various Security Sectors (Ministry of Defense, Defense Security Intelligence Agency, and Ministry of Interior), one from the President’s Office and the remainder composed of senior civilian officials from the Ministries of Transportation; Economy, Finance and Investment Support; Environment and Sustainable Development; Higher Education and Scientific Research; Equipment and Housing; Health; Justice, Social Affairs; Interior; Foreign Affairs, Immigration, and Tunisians Abroad; Agriculture;  Industry, Mines and Energy; and Communication, Technologies and Digital Economy. Out of the 48 participants, there were only seven women (15% of the class), which is down significantly from 19% for Class 39 in 2022.

People in suits sitting near a poster board with sticky notes on it.
Breakout group “Futures Wheel” focused on society.


People in suits sitting near a poster board with sticky notes on it.
Breakout group “Futures Wheel” focused on economy.


People in suits sitting near a poster board with sticky notes on it.
Breakout group “Futures Wheel” focused on security.


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