We sat down with YPFP Europe Fellow, Karlijn Jans to ask about your experience in the YPFP Fellowship Program and how she developed such a strong interest in defense and security policy.
What was it that drew you to defense and security policy? Was there a particular incident that sparked your interest?
Since a very young age I have been interested in international relations and (global) conflicts. Perhaps the fact that armed forces are (still) the most sovereign part of a nation state makes this such a fascinating subject to look at. Defense and security policies include a wide range of measures and issues, from crisis management, cyber policies and space policies to hard power systems to nuclear deterrence. Policies encompass offensive and defensive measures in order to keep a country or region safe, whatever the motivation to deploy such policies is. I think for a lot of people of my generation, born just prior to or after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the topic of conflicts was long absent in our lives. I think 9/11 was a pivotal moment when many people, including me, realized that the post-Cold War era was entering a new phase or era in itself.
What are your main academic interests, and how they have developed in the course of your studies?
I have a background in law and political/social science. Through both of these different perspectives I have focused on defense policies. I wrote my law dissertation on (constitutional) decision-making in the Netherlands and Germany with regard to military deployment abroad. How big is the say of national parliaments when it comes to sending men and women abroad for combat or civilian-military missions? While studying political science I researched the impact of the reforms of the German armed forces on Germany’s position in the world and its view of defense policies in general. While active in my previous job, I started studying at the Netherlands Defense Academy to get a deeper and more practical understanding of operational and tactical issues facing a military organization and their missions. Advancing in my first professional function I developed a keen interest in the Research and Technology (R&T)-related to the defense and security sector. What is happening to the (technological) capability gap that is present on the European continent and what possible measures are there or need to be developed in order to close this gap?
What projects are you working on at the moment?
Currently I am involved with YPFP as a Europe Fellow. The fellowship is coordinated by the YPFP Branch in Washington DC which gives me a great opportunity to translate European developments to an American audience. My publications focus primarily on the transatlantic relationship and security and defense policies. Besides my fellowship I chair the Dutch chapter of the Young Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA). Together with a great team, I engage students and young professionals in a wide range of transatlantic issues through masterclasses, seminars, field trips and other interactive events that exposes them to experts and officials that are key figures in shaping and maintaining the transatlantic bond, so that it remains there for our generation and those that follow us.
In your opinion, which publications (online or offline) should someone who wants to be well informed about security and defense issues be reading?
There are plenty, all with different focuses: the true SecDef nerds out there have a field day by reading them all. I would recommend signing up for the daily Defense News Early Bird Brief. You will get a daily update with a collection of defense news coming out of Washington. Other outlets I frequently read are Real Clear Defense, the blog War on the Rocks, IHS Jane’s 360 or Defense One. There isn’t really a European equivalent to these news sites which is a pity! Furthermore, I try to keep track of what the different think tanks in Brussels and other capitals publish on security and defense. The Financial Times also often has pretty good, in-depth articles on security and defense matters.
What are your plans and aspirations for the future?
Just this month I have joined the The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies as a strategic analyst. I will mostly be working on security and defense matters. In the future I hope to build a thorough understanding of the security and defense issues a modern society is dealing with.
Karlijn Jans is the YPFP Europe Fellow, as well as a defense and security policy expert. She completed her masters in European law at Maastricht University and European Politics at King's College London, specializing in defense policies and German politics.
For more information on the YPFP Fellowship Program, click here.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of their employer or Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.