Rear Admiral

Rear Admiral Stefano TURCHETTO was born in Treviso on March 19 th, 1966. He attended the Naval Academy in Livorno (Tuscany) from 1985 to 1989, graduating as a Midshipman.
After a short training period onboard Destroyer DUILIO, he attended the Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) course at the Naval Air Training Centre in Taranto and, from April 1990, he was assigned to Corvette DRIADE as ASW Officer.
From September 1990, as Lieutenant Junior Grade, he was assigned to the Naval Academy in Livorno as the cadets’ Supervising Officer.
From October 1991 to August 1992, he was posted to Frigate ALPINO as ASW Officer and, thereafter, he attended the ASW Higher Level and specialization courses, achieving full expertise in this sector.
From 1993 to 1996, he served as Head of ASW Division on board Frigate LIBECCIO.
In 1997, he attended the Staff Course at the Maritime Warfare Institute in Livorno and the Naval Command School in Augusta.
From August 1997 to August 1998, he was appointed Commanding Officer of Patrol Boat LIBRA, based in MESSINA and primarily employed in fishing protection duties in the Strait of Sicily.
From September 1998 to December 2000, he was appointed as Head of ASW Division and, later, as Head of Operations Department on board Cruiser VITTORIO VENETO. During this period, in January 1999, he was promoted Lieutenant Commander.
From 2000 to 2003, he was Cadet Class Commander in the Naval Academy, where he oversaw the induction of the first class with female personnel in the Institute’s history.
He was promoted Commander on January 1st, 2003 and attended the 6th Joint High Level Staff Course at the Defence High Studies Centre in Rome. He was subsequently assigned to the Centre in 2004 as a tutor for the following courses until 2006.
From August 2006 to September 2007, he served as Commanding Officer of Frigate LIBECCIO. In the three years period 2007 – 2010, he was Liaison Officer at the German Ministry of Defence in
BERLIN. He was promoted Captain on July 1st, 2009.
During the two years period 2010 – 2012, he served as Head of the Training and Regulations Division at the Italian Fleet Headquarter in Rome.
From October 2012 to September 2013, he was Commanding Officer of Destroyer ANDREA DORIA, partaking in the main national exercises and in support of the Italian UNIFIL troops deployed in Lebanon as part of the UNIFIL mission.
From October 2013 to October 2016, he was the Naval Academy Executive Officer (Second in Command).
From October 2016 to July 2018, he was Head of the Italian Joint Operations Headquarter Commander’s Office.
He was promoted Rear Admiral (LH) on January 1st, 2018.
From September 2018 to June 2019, he served as Force Commander of EUNAVFOR MED – Operation SOPHIA.
From September 2019 to September 2021 he was First Naval Division Commander, based in La Spezia. During this period he served as Tactical Commander for “Operazione Mare Sicuro” on four separate occasions, operating in the Central Mediterranean Sea On the 1st of October 2021, RAdm TURCHETTO was appointed as Commander of Operation EUNAVFOR MED Irini, where he continues to serve.
Rear Admiral TURCHETTO graduated cum laude in Naval and Maritime Sciences from the University of Pisa (Tuscany). He has been awarded numerous national and international decorations.
Rear Admiral TURCHETTO is married to Rossella and they have two children, Francesco and Viola.


Head, OPS Coordination EU Military Staff (EUMS, Brussels)

Captain Ioannis Agrodimos has attended the Hellenic Naval Academy and commissioned as an Officer in 1994.
He has served onboard various Hellenic ships mainly type “S” Frigates. Furthermore, he has served as an instructor at the Hellenic Supreme Joint War College, as a Battle Watch Captain at the Hellenic Navy General Staff Operations Centre, and as head of Planning and Crisis Management Department at the Hellenic Fleet Staff.
During his career, he has participated onboard Hellenic Ships to a variety of international deployments such as Operations Enduring Freedom, Active Endeavour, Allied Provider and UNIFIL MarOps.
As a staff officer, he has been deployed to Operation ATALANTA FHQ.
Since July 2022, he is seconded to EU Military Staff as Operations Coordination Division Branch Chief and Deputy Director of the Maritime Areas of Interest Coordination Cell (MAICC).
Captain Agrodimos has completed all the appropriate military education up to his rank and got his Master’s degree ‘MSC in Sustainable Development’ from the International Hellenic University.
He has also attended the U.S. Naval Command College and graduated in 2019.
He speaks English fluently and has a good knowledge of French and Spanish.
In his spare time he likes reading military history and playing chess.
He is married to Georgia and they have three children.


Senior Analyst, Security and Defence (EUISS, Paris)

Dr Jan Joel Andersson is Senior Analyst at the EU Institute for Security Studies, where he heads the analysis of security and defence, including CSDP, Capability Development, Defence Industry and Technology & Innovation issues.
Between 2017-2022, he was a member of the Chief Executive’s Policy Office (cabinet) at the European Defence Agency, advising the EDA Chief Executive on strategy and policy, specifically on the EU defence initiatives (CARD, PESCO, EDF), relations with the European Commission and the defence and high-tech industries.

Among his earlier experiences is a previous stint at EUISS (2014-2017), when Jan Joel was Senior Analyst for Transatlantic Security, NATO and US Politics. He was a member of the Institute’s senior staff supporting the consultation and drafting process of the EU Global Strategy, and a member of the secretariat assisting the “Group of Personalities” in the drafting of their proposal for a Preparatory Action for defence-related research, presented to the Commission in 2016. Starting in June 2017, the Preparatory Action began delivering as the precursor to the European Defence Fund.

Dr Andersson has also worked in the private sector for a world-leading crisis management consultancy and has held faculty appointments at universities and in think-tanks in the United States, Sweden, and France. He has published widely on European and transatlantic security and defence, capability development, and defence industry issues. He has been invited to lecture in more than 30 countries around the world.

Jan Joel was educated at the United World College of the Adriatic in Italy, graduated from Uppsala University in Sweden, and received his MA and PhD in political science from the University of California at Berkeley.


Political Advisor MARCOM

James H. Bergeron assumed duties as Political Advisor to Commander, Allied Maritime Command in Northwood, United Kingdom on 1 September 2013. Previously the POLAD to Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO from July 2005 as a member of the US Government Service, he is considered to be one of NATO’s most experienced foreign policy advisors in the fields of maritime and joint expeditionary operations.

He has served as POLAD in eighteen US and NATO exercises; as POLAD to the NATO Response Force exercise Steadfast Jaguar in Cape Verde and NATO Riga Summit mission in 2006; in a national capacity as POLAD to EUCOM Commander Joint Task Force Lebanon during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah Conflict; to Commander US Naval Forces Europe during the August 2008 Russia-Georgia Conflict and as POLAD to STRIKFORNATO for four Baltic Host and two BALTOPs exercises to reassure Allies of NATO solidarity.

From March until July 2011 he served as the Political Advisor to NATO’s CJTF Operation Unified Protector in support of UNSCR 1973 operations in Libya. He is regularly consulted on NATO maritime strategy, transformational issues and NATO-EU relations, and was one of the drafters of the Alliance Maritime Strategy.

Prior to his appointment in Naples, Mr. Bergeron served as EU/NATO Policy Advisor on the Staff of Commander, US Naval Forces Europe, London. Professor Bergeron entered the US government service following a career in academia. He holds a BA in History and English Literature from the University of the State of New York, MA in Political Science from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, Juris Doctor Magna Cum Laude from the College of Law at Syracuse University and Master of Laws in European Union Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, as a British Foreign and Commonwealth Scholar.

Following completion of the LL.M. In 1991, Mr. Bergeron joined the Faculty of Law at University College Dublin, Ireland, where he specialized in European Union law, European affairs, comparative antitrust, international law and jurisprudence. From 1991-2000 he held visiting appointments at the Nicolas Copernicus University, Torun, Jageillonian University, Krakow, Riga Graduate School of Law; Onati International Institute for the Sociology of Law, Spain and S1. John’s University College of Law, New York.

In 1993 he developed the draft Estonian Code of Military Justice under the US European Command’s military-tomilitary contacts program. Under the auspices of the European Commission he assisted in the revision of the Latvian Constitution from 1998-9 and training of Hungarian public prosecutors in EU law from 1999-2000. He served briefly on the Forward Studies Unit of the President of the European Commission.

His connections to the naval life are of long standing. Mr. Bergeron entered the United States Navy in 1976. After two years of nuclear propulsion training, he served as a reactor operator on board USS ULYSSES S. GRANT (SSBN 631) and USS HOUSTON (SSN 713) in Newport News, Virginia. In July 1982 he reported to Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. Upon commissioning as an officer and completion of submarine and Poseidon missile schools, he served on USS GEORGE C. MARSHALL (SSBN 654) as Assistant Weapons Officer.

This was followed by twenty-one years in the US Navy Reserve, supporting US Naval Forces Europe, US Embassy Dublin and Allied Forces Southern Command in the areas of politico-military analysis and advice, partnership engagement and security cooperation. Commander Bergeron retired from the Navy Reserve in October 2007.

Jim Bergeron has published several articles and book chapters on legal, political and international security topics, and is the editor, with Peter Fitzpatrick, of Europe’s Other: European Law from Modernity to Post-Modernity (Ashgate 1998). He has spoken at numerous institutions, universities and think tanks including the Center for Naval Analysis, Naval Postgraduate School Monterey, Chatham House, NATO Defense College, Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth, RUSI, Institute for International Affairs (IA!) Rome, National Defense University, Wilton Park and the Maritime Warfare School Halifax.

He has had a long involvement with the American Bar Association, and currently serves as the ABA liaison to NATO, the International Maritime Organisation and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Personal decorations include the Meritorious and Superior Civilian Service Medals, Navy Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, NATO Libya Medal and the Golden Badge of the Estonian Ministry of Defence.

Interests include naval history, art, early music, political theory, and military strategy.


Strategic Studies Professor at LUMSA University and SIOI, EUNAVFOR MED IRINI Political Advisor

Adjunct Professor of History of International Relations at Italian Naval Academy (2022-2023).
Adjunct Professor of International Relations and Strategic Studies at LUMSA (2018 – 2021).
Researcher at the Military Center for Strategic Studies (Ce.Mi.S.S.) of the Ministry of Defense (2019 – ).
Scientific coordinator and lecturer at the Italian Society for International Organization (SIOI, Rome) of courses on terrorism and irregular wars (2016 – ).
Emerging challenges analyst at the NATO Defense College Foundation and Director of the Observatory for Stability and Security in the Mediterranean (OSSMED) at LUMSA University, Rome.

Military experience:

• Political advisor (Italian Navy Reservist) at EUNAVFOR MED IRINI (2020 – 2023)

Graduated in History (Sapienza University, Rome), followed by a Master in International Strategic and Military Studies at the “Italian National Defence University” (Centro Alti Studi per la Difesa – CASD).
He is a Ph.D. candidate in History, Cultural Heritage, and International Studies at the University of Cagliari.
He developed a solid background in research and analysis following several experiences in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and the People’s Republic of China.
He has extensively analyzed and written about hybrid warfare, maritime security, the evolution of NATO, and the Belt and Road Initiative.
Speaker and analyst in several radio and television programs concerning International Relations and Foreign Affairs, and author of more than 70 scientific publications, including monographs and essays.


UNHCR Representative to Italy, the Holy See and San Marino

Chiara Cardoletti’s distinguished career includes more than 15 years in humanitarian response, policy development, and government relations. Her extensive experience includes working in both emergency response and headquarters contexts, with a specialization in international protection, external partnerships, and consensus building. Ms. Cardoletti has been appointend as UNHCR Representative to Italy, the Holy See and San Marino in June 2020.
Before this role, she was Deputy Regional Representative for the United States of America and the Caribbean in Washington DC; she was responsible for leading and coordinating the protection response for refugees and internally displaced populations in the Republic of the Sudan, working closely with inter-agency partners and the host government. She also served for more than four years in the Executive Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, covering refugee protection issues worldwide, and advising on matters of international human rights and humanitarian law. Ms. Cardoletti has worked extensively on refugee protection, internal displacement and statelessness issues in UNHCR field operations including East Timor, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire, Iran, and Afghanistan.
Her assignments in challenging and complex environments resulted in effective delivery of humanitarian assistance, ongoing political analysis, fundraising with Member States, and attention to significant security risks. Before joining the UN, Ms. Cardoletti worked with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Throughout her considerable range of assignments, Ms. Cardoletti has prioritized a commitment to oversight and efficiency in humanitarian response, innovation, and transparent negotiations with donors and host governments.
Ms. Cardoletti born in Milan, Italy. She holds a Masters Degree in International Law from the University of Vienna in Austria, and is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Italian.
She has one child.


Head, Maritime Security Sector, EEAS, Brussels

Giovanni Cremonini is Head of Maritime Security Sector at the European External Action Service since 2021. An EU official since 1994, from 1998 to 2003 he served in Russia, where he managed technical assistance programmes, and subsequently in China, as Head of Political Section of the EU Delegation.
His assignments at HQ in Brussels include Senior Policy Coordinator of the European Neighbourhood Policy, Chair of an inter-service working group on lessons from the implementation of the EU Common Security and Defense Policy, geographical Desk Officer for Armenia, and Policy Officer for security partnerships with Asian countries. He holds post-graduate degrees in Classics (Milan Catholic University), in International Relations (London School of Economics) and in Public Sector Management (Solvay Business School).
He has completed the European Security and Defense College High Level Course on CSDP.

Emanuela Claudia DEL RE

European Union Special Representative for the Sahel

Emanuela C. Del Re is the European Union Special Representative for the Sahel.
Former Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, she was an elected member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies in the XVIII legislature.
Italian scholar, sociologist, university professor, she is an expert in foreign policy, security issues, international relations, geopolitics, conflict studies, migrations, refugee issues, minorities, religious phenomena, connection axes and energy networks, carrying out long researches on field in conflict areas and areas in transition since 1990 in Africa and the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East and other.
Member of national and international scientific committees and editing boards, regular contributor of various leading scientific magazines, panellist and speaker in many international fora.
Member of numerous think tanks, institutes and organizations. Author of several books and essays. Director and author of video-documentaries.


International Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for Libya

Claudia Gazzini is the International Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Libya. She has covered this role since 2012. Between October 2017 and March 2018 she also served as policy advisor to Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). She researches and produces reports on security, politics and economic governance of Libya, including its oil sector. She travels regularly throughout Libya.
Prior to joining Crisis Group, Claudia worked for the Associated Press in Rome and for Reuters in Jakarta. She was Max Weber fellow at the European University Institute in Fiesole (Florence) and visiting fellow at the Program of African Studies at Northwestern University (IL). She did her post-graduate studies in Middle Eastern History at Princeton University and Oxford University.


Editor in chief "Formiche" and "Airpress"

Professional journalist. Editor-in-chief of Formiche magazine since July 2012. She has taken the direction of Airpress, a monthly magazine focused on aerospace and defense policy, since 2013.

Massimiliano LAURETTI

Rear Admiral

Rear Adrmiral (l.h.) Massimiliano Lauretti was born in Frosinone on April 3rd 1970.
Upon completing the high school, he joined the Naval Academy in Livorno where he attended his initial officer training, from 1989 to 1993, graduating in Maritime and Naval Sciences at the University of Pisa.
In 1994 he was appointed as Surface Warfare Officer and sent on board (FFG) ITS ALISEO as weapons officer until 1997.
In 1998 he was employed with the same duty on board (FFG) ITS GRECALE until 2001.
In 2003, after attending the Naval Commanding School in Augusta and the Naval Warfare Advanced School in Venice, was appointed Commanding Officer of the (AWT) ITS TICINO (August 2003 – August 2004).
In 2004 he was assigned on board (DDG) ITS DURAND DE LA PENNE where he attended several staff duties (up to OPSO).
From November 2006 to June 2012, he served at the ITALIAN NAVY GENERAL STAFF, as Head of “Operational Planning and Training” Section.
On July 11th 2012, he was appointed Commanding Officer of the (OPV) ITS CIGALA FULGOSI.
From August 2013 to August 2017 he was assigned at the ITALIAN NAVY GENERAL STAFF, as the Head of Operations Office for Plans, Operations and Maritime Strategies Department.
From 11th September 2017 to 15th October 2018, he was appointed Commanding Officer of the (DDG) ITS FRANCESCO MIMBELLI.
Since 1st November 2018 to date he has been serving as Head of Plans and Operations Department of the Command in Chief of the Fleet (CINCNAV).
Since 10 January 2022, he is Head of Plans & Maritime Policy Department of the Italian Navy General Staff (Rome).

Major awards and decorations:

  • Saint Maurice Commendation Medal
  • Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
  • Naval Long Command Medal of honor – Silver
  • Long Command Silver Medal
  • Gold Cross for long service
  • NATO and WEO Medals for “Sharp Guard – Maritime Monitor


Deputy Commander

Having joined the Naval Academy in Brest in 1986 and graduated from the Military School for Atomic Energy, Vice-Admiral Didier Maleterre served aboard conventional and nuclear submarines for the majority of his sea-going deployments across a number of theatres, including the Indian Ocean for Operation HERACLES in support of the CHARLES DE GAULLE Carrier Strike Group immediately after the September 11 attacks. He served on SSK VENUS and SSN EMERAUDE, XO on SSN RUBIS and SSBN Le VIGILANT, and commanded SSN SAPHIR and SSBN LE TRIOMPHANT. He completed this period as Head of the Submarine Operations Centre at the Strategic Oceanic Force (FOST) headquarters from 2010 to 2011.

After graduating from the 8th Advanced Command and Staff Course (Joint Command and Staff College in UK) in 2004, he complemented his preparation for Senior Officer appointments by attending the Centre for Higher Military Studies (CHEM) and the Institute of Higher National Defence Studies (IHEDN) in 2011. He started the senior-level part of his career with shore appointments including Director for nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and export control within the Minister of Defence, followed by Advisor to the Defence and National Security Council at the Prime Minister’s Office in the General Secretariat for Defence and National Security (SGDSN).

Promoted Rear-Admiral (LH) in 2016, he joined the Naval Staff as coordinating authority for International Relations in 2017. In 2018, he assumed Command of French Naval Forces deployed in the Indian Ocean and of the Joint French Forces based in Abu Dhabi (UAE), acting also as French National Contingent Commander for Operation Inherent Resolve (Iraq). He was the first Commander of Operation EMASOH, the European naval operation in the Strait of Hormuz.

Promoted Vice-Admiral on September 2020, he was assigned to the Joint headquarters in Paris, where he was deputy CHOD for Performance and Human Resources. He then served in 2022 as the advisor to the Minister of the Armed Forces and in January 2023, was appointed Director of the ministerial “Task Force Support Ukraine”. In June 2023 Vice-Admiral Maleterre was appointed the Deputy Commander at Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) in Northwood (UK).

He holds various decorations and awards, including commander of the National Merit, Officer of the Legion of Honour, Officer of the Maritime Merit, the Submarine Medal and the Overseas Medal (Afghanistan and Middle East).

Michael MALONE

Flag Officer Commanding Irish Naval Service

Commodore Malone was promoted to his present rank and into the appointment of Flag Officer Commanding Naval Service (FOCNS) on 26 December 2017.
Commodore Micheal Malone joined the Irish Naval Service in 1981 as a Marine Engineering cadet and was commissioned as an Officer in 1983. He graduated from Cork Regional Technical College in Marine and Plant engineering in May 1985 and graduated from the Royal Naval Engineering College, Marine Engineering Application Course, Plymouth, UK in December 1986.
He holds an MA in Leadership, Management and Defence Studies from National University of Ireland, Maynooth and is a graduate of the Defence Forces Senior Command and Staff Course. He has also studied at the Pearl Harbour Naval Shipyard where he completed the International Shipyard Managers Course.
He has held a wide variety of appointments both afloat and ashore over the last 36 years. At the rank of Captain, he held the appointment of Officer Commanding Naval Support Command with responsibility for all HR, logistics, electronics and engineering functions within the Naval Service.
Commodore Malone was Programme Manager for the design and building of the Irish Navy’s P60 class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs). This programme has witnessed the delivery of four 90-metre OPVs to the Irish Navy during the period 2015-2018.
He is a chartered engineer and Fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology (FIMarEST), Member of the Institution of Fire Engineers (MI Fire E) and Fellow of the Engineers Ireland (FIEI), Member of the Association of Energy Engineers (U.S.) and a Certified Energy Manager (CEM).
He is married to Mary and they have four adult children. He enjoys tennis in his spare time.


Deputy Chief of the Romanian Naval Forces - Rear Admiral

RDML Marcel NECULAE was born in 1972 in Vacareni, Tulcea County, Romania. He graduated from the “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” Naval High School in 1990, and the ”Mircea cel Batran” Romanian Naval Academy in 1995, with a diploma of Engineering in Navigation, Bridge Equipment and Hydrography.

After graduation, he began his military career as executive officer on board of a river minesweeper and later, in 1996, he was appointed as commanding officer, then CO of a riverine patrol boat. From 2001 to 2008 he was successively assigned as the executive officer, then as commanding officer of a river patrol boat and later as head of operations office of the Riverine Patrol Boats Squadron. From 2008 to 2010, he attended the Command College of the National Defence University “Carol I” in Bucharest.

After graduation he was appointed as head of Operations and Training of the Riverine Artillery Ships Squadron. In the period of 2012-2014, he took the position of Head of Operations Office of the (Maritime) Fleet. Between 2014 – 2017 he was subsequently assigned as Head of Combat Capabilities Office and Section in the Navy Headquarters. Back to Fleet duties, in 2017 he was appointed as Commanding Officer of 67th Artillery Ships Squadron.

Since 2020, RDML Neculae took Navy decision positions, first as Deputy Commander of Naval Operational Command, then Commander of the Riverine Flotilla, receiving the rank of Rear Admiral in December 2022, and recently he has been appointed in his current position, as Deputy Chief of the Navy, since 1 September 2023.

Rear Admiral Neculae took the Artillery and Missile Specialization Course in 2002, then he graduated from Joint Maritime Operations Course and Rule of low and Disciplined Military Operations for Maritime Officers (SUA, 2007). He has also graduated Common Security and Defence Policy Course (Romania, 2016), Conflict Management and Negotiation Course (Romania, 2016), Law of Armed Conflict Course (Romania, 2017), Naval Command College (SUA, 2017), Communication and Public Relations for Commanding Officers Course (Romania, 2018), Strategic Communication in the Context of Security and Defence (Romania, 2021) and, lastly, the “Combined Force Maritime Component Commander(CFMCC) Flag Course-22-5C” (Napoli/Italia, 2022).

He is married to Gabriela, with one daughter, Alexandria.


Ambassador / Permanent Representative of Italy to the EU Political and Security Committee

Mr. Andrea Orizio was born in Brescia (Italy) on the 25th of January, 1967. After graduating in Law from the University of Milan in 1991, he attended post-graduate specialization courses/Masters at ISPI (Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale) in Milan, SIOI (Società Italiana per l’Organizzazione Internazionale) in Rome, ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration) Paris, and joined the Italian Diplomatic Service in 1992.

From 1992 to 1993, he was Deputy Head of the Africa Desk (Economic Affairs) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after which he served at the Office of the Defence Minister’s Diplomatic Counsellor from 1993 to 1994, followed by the Unit for Armaments Authorization and Control in 1994-1995.

From 1995 to 2000, he was Head of the Economic Section (Deputy Head of Mission in 1996-1997) at the Italian Embassy in Prague, and from 2000 to 2002 Deputy Head of Mission and Counsellor at the Italian Embassy in Zagreb, where he was also NATO-Croatia Contact Point Officer.

From 2002 to 2004, he was Deputy Head and from 2004 to 2005 Head of the Western Balkans Department (DG Europe) at the Foreign Affairs’ Ministry in Rome.

From 2005 to 2008, he served as First Counsellor at the Italian Permanent Delegation to NATO in Brussels, in charge of issues relating to the Mediterranean Dialogue, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, Middle East, NATO’s Partnerships and Western Balkans, NATO-Ukraine, NATO-Georgia, NATO’s enlargement (Albania and Croatia accession), Operation Active Endeavour, and NATO-EU matters. He was also a member of the NATO Political Committee.

From 2008 to 2013, he was Minister Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission at the Italian Embassy in Cairo. At the rising of the “Egyptian Revolution” on the 25th January 2011, he was Chargé d’Affaires a.i. and managed a 130 staff Embassy in emergency conditions. He was Head of the Anti-Terrorism and Global Threats Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Political Affairs), in Rome, from 2013 to 2014.

From 2014 to 2016, he was Balkans and Adriatic Director (DG European Union) at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, as well as National Coordinator of the Central European Initiative, EU Macroregional Strategies EUSAIR and EUSALP, Western Balkans’ Process.

From 2016 to 2020, he served as Ambassador/Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia (150 multinational staff and 10 million euros yearly budget), appointed at the end of an international selection.

Back to the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in 2020, he was Head of Central and Northern Europe Division (DG Europe), and Deputy Director for European Countries. In 2021-2023, he was Deputy Director for European Countries (DG Europe and Trade Policy) and Coordinator for EFTA Countries and UK at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. In 2022-2023, he was also “Special Ambassador” and Europe Coordinator for Rome EXPO 2030 candidacy.

Since March 2023, he is Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Italy to the EU Political and Security Committee.

Languages: Italian mother tongue, fluent English and French, some knowledge of Czech, Serbian, Croatian and Arabic.

Married, one son and one daughter. “Cavaliere Ufficiale” of the “Ordine al Merito della Repubblica”, Member of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law.


Professor of War & Strategy in East Asia

Alessio Patalano is Professor of War & Strategy in East Asia at the Department of War Studies (DWS), King’s College London (KCL) where he specialises in maritime strategy and doctrine, Japanese military history and strategy, East Asian security, and British defence policy towards the Indo-Pacific. Prof Patalano is the Director of the King’s Japan Programme and the newly established Indo-Pacific Programme at the Centre for Grand Strategy, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS), a Visiting Professor at the Japan Maritime Command and Staff College (JMCSC), and an Adjunct Fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies, Temple University Japan. He is a Senior Fellow at the think tanks Policy Exchange, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), and Sir Herbert Richmond Fellow on naval strategy at the Council on Geostrategy.

He is also visiting fellow at the Royal Navy Centre for Strategic Studies (RNCSS) and non-resident fellow at the Royal Australian Navy Seapower Centre. From 2006 to 2015, he was visiting professor at the Italian Naval War College (ISMM), Venice. In Japan, Prof Patalano has held affiliations at Aoyama Gakuin University, the National Defence Academy, and at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS). In 2022, Prof Patalano became the first specialist advisor on the Indo-Pacific to the Foreign Affairs Committee in the UK Parliament. Prof Patalano is an active media commentator and writer (Nikkei, The Spectator); he collaborates on international documentaries, and is also regularly involved in military education, developing and delivering programmes on East Asian affairs.

Erica PEPE

Research Manager, Executive Office

Erica Pepe is Research Manager in the IISS Executive Office and Research Analyst for the Conflict, Security and Development Programme. She supports the IISS leadership and the IISS Research Board in managing research programmes, fundraising, and outreach activities, and is responsible for the IISS Advisory Council. She also conducts analysis and contributes to the annual IISS Armed Conflict Survey publication, as well as other IISS major dossiers, publications, blogs and research projects.


Associate Fellow, Conflict, Security and Development

Dr Umberto Profazio is a Maghreb Analyst at the NATO Defense College Foundation. He regularly writes about political developments, security and terrorism in the North Africa region, focusing on the conflict in Libya, the politics and geopolitics of the Maghreb and the role of non-state actors.


  • The conflict in Libya
  • Politics and security in the Maghreb
  • Geopolitics of the Mediterranean Sea
  • Non-state armed groups in North Africa


Dr Profazio was previously a Libya analyst working on the Armed Conflict Database at The IISS. He holds a PhD in history of international relations from the University of Rome (Sapienza), with a thesis on Libya after independence. Dr Profazio has been interviewed by several media sources, including Agenzia Nova, Al Arabiya, Arab News, Bloomberg, Il Foglio, Radio Popolare, Radio Rai 3, Radio 24, RFI and TRT.

Delphine PRONK

Chair of the Political and Security Committee of the European Union, deputy Political Director EEAS, Brussels

Ambassador Delphine Pronk is a Dutch diplomat serving as the permanent Chair of the Political and Security Committee of the European Union. She took up office in the fall of 2021, as the fourth permanent Chair, but also as the first Deputy Political Director of the European Union External Action Service. Prior to that, she was the Dutch ambassador to the Political and Security Committee of the European Union. Delphine joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 2001. In her diplomatic career, she held several positions including Head of International Enterprise and Head of Communication on European Affairs. She was seconded to the EU Delegation in Dakar in 2012. She lived and worked in Costa Rica, Belgium, Senegal and the Netherlands, and took part of her studies in Berkeley, USA. Delphine studied and holds a master’s degree in Public Administration of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Delphine is married to Pieter Jan Kleiweg de Zwaan and has three children (2008, 2009 and 2012). She enjoys reading, skiing, and singing.

Fergal O’ REGAN

Deputy Head European Security and Defence College

Fergal O’ Regan is Deputy Head of the European Security and Defence College (ESDC). Prior to joining the ESDC he was Head of Unit and Chief Legal Expert at the European Ombudsman. Mr O’Regan has a Masters Degree in European Law from the College of Europe, Bruges, a degree in international law from the Université d’Aix-Marseille and a degree in law from the Universidad de Deusto, Bilbao. He is also qualified in economics from the Universidad de Deusto. He has been admitted to the Bar in Bilbao and Brussels.
Mr O’Regan has been a Visiting Professor at the College of Europe, Bruges (in the inter-disciplinary section and the legal studies section). He also has also lectured at a number of other third level institutes on EU law. He has been Chair of the Brussels Branch of Ireland’s Institute of International and European Affairs (the IIEA).

Giuseppe SERNIA

UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme

Italian Navy officer for 10 years, Giuseppe Sernia has been deployed in UNIFIL and EUNAVFOR ATALANTA. Giuseppe qualified as Avvocato in Italy in 2002, specialized in international law, and joined UNODC in 2015 regional coordinator for the UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP), serving in Senegal, Nigeria, Gabon, Tunisia, and currently based in Libya, from where Giuseppe coordinates UNODC work against maritime crime in the Mediterranean, Black, Red and Caspian seas.
Giuseppe Sernia has been awarded an LLM in international law at the University of Southampton (UK) in 2010, and LLM at the University of Bologna in 2000.

Ariella VIEHE

Head of Current Operations - NATO International Staff

Since August 2020, Ariella Viehe currently serves as the Head of Current Operations on the NATO International Staff, a portfolio which includes Kosovo, Iraq and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, maritime issues and engagement with the African Union. Prior to joining NATO, she served for three years as a defense policy expert at the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and nine years as a foreign affairs expert at the U.S. Department of State.

At the Department of Defense, she served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy as Director for Egypt, Israel and the Levant, including Syria in 2020. Prior to that, from 2018-2020, she served as the first Chief of Staff for Middle East Policy, covering issues from Iran to the Arabian Gulf. In 2017 she was the Senior Director for Israel.

Prior to joining the DoD, she spent nine years at the Department of State, where she covered Near East Affairs, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.  In that role, she led the strategic planning for nearly $8 billion in U.S. foreign assistance to the Middle East, as the Libya Country Coordinator for foreign assistance to the post-Qaddafi country, as Senior Advisor to the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP), as Special Assistant to Deputy Secretary of State and as the U.S. liaison to the German Federal Foreign Office for Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs.  In 2014-2015 she was selected as a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) International Affairs Fellow where she led the first and only comprehensive study of Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan.  From 2004-2006, she supported the Department of State Office of Iraq Affairs, including at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, primarily covering strategic communications, elections and the initiation of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in the post-Saddam country. In 2006, she was selected as a Fulbright fellow and studied Arabic and media issues in Amman, Jordan.

Ariella holds a Masters’ degree in International Affairs and International Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a Bachelors’ degree in International History from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.


Vice Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Vice Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa - Rear Admiral

Rear Adm. Larry Watkins is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was commissioned through the University of Missouri-Columbia Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program in December 1990 while graduating with an economics degree. He is also a 2012 graduate of Webster University with a Master of Business Administration and completed Joint Professional Military Education curriculum at Army Command & General Staff College.

Upon completion of Surface Warfare Officer School in March 1991, he was assigned to USS Reid (FFG 30), deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm. He completed a follow-on tour at Commander, Amphibious Squadron Seven where he served as assistant operations, combat systems officer. He was subsequently assigned to Naval Space Command in Dahlgren, Virginia where he served as a space support team member for deployment to Saudi Arabia to support Operation Southern Watch as space liaison officer/theater ballistic missile defense officer for United States Central Command in 1998.

Watkins transferred to the Navy Reserve in 1998 and completed staff and operational tours at U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) Intelligence Detachment 0174, Harbor Defense Command 207 in Miami, Florida, Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit 207 based in Jacksonville, Florida, Maritime Expeditionary Squadron 10 in Jacksonville, Florida, CSF Maritime Operations Center, Joint Transportation Reserve Unit at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, and C7F in Fort Worth, Texas.

Watkins’ command and mobilization assignments include commander Navy Reserve (NR) USS Klakring (FFG 42) detachment, Commander NR U. S. Fleet Forces Maritime Operations Center, and NR. U.S. European Command J3. Mobilizations included officer-in-charge of Theater Field Confinement Facility in support of Operation New Dawn at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, and mobilized in support of Operations Noble Eagle & Enduring Freedom where he was a counter terrorism analyst and battle staff briefer at USSOUTHCOM. He was also assigned to Joint Force Command, Norfolk as a plank owner establishing a new North Atlantic Treaty Organization command.

Watkins’ previous flag assignments include director, Joint Fires & Effects Center and deputy director Operations, Operations Directorate at U.S. Southern Command and Reserve Vice Commander, U.S. THIRD Fleet.

Watkins earned his surface warfare designation in 1992; his decorations include numerous personal, unit, and campaign medals and ribbons.


Deputy Director Security and Defence Policy Directorate, EEAS, Brussels

Dr Weston is Senior Coordinator for the Coordinated Maritime Presences, as well as Deputy to the Director in the Security and Defence Policy Directorate and Head of Division for Maritime Security, in the European External Action Service. She is responsible for policy development and coordination on maritime security, as well as for the implementation of the political aspects of the EU Coordinated Maritime Presences concept. With significant experience in EU civilian and military crisis management structures, she has been involved in the evolution of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy from its early stages, including in the planning and conduct of many of the EU’s civilian crisis management missions.
In 2008-2010, she served as Chief of Staff in the International Civilian Office/ Office of the EU Special Representative in Kosovo, led by Pieter Feith. In 2018-19, she was seconded to the European Commission in the framework of the Security Union Task Force, under the authority of Commissioner King.
Dr Weston holds a doctorate in Political and Social Science from the European University Institute in Florence and is a Visiting Professor at the College of Europe.