Michael Hellerforth is a Franco-German expert on questions of international security and defence.

Currently working as a senior staff officer for a NATO HQ in mainland Europe, he specializes notably in European and Trans-Atlantic Security and Defence, Franco-German political & military cooperation, crisis management with a focus on the MENA region (Middle East & Northern Africa) and security and capability building in West Africa & the Sahel region.

Having first joined the military in 1991, he is a graduate of the German Air Force Academy (OSLW), the French Army Staff Officer College (ESORSEM), the French National Institute for Defence Studies (IHEDN), the Centre for International Peacekeeping (ZIF) of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the NATO Counterinsurgency Academy Kabul and of NATO School Oberammergau (NSO).

Mission experience for NATO and EU includes long term tours as a staff officer in Bosnia (SFOR), Afghanistan (ISAF) and Mali (EUTM) as well as with EUNAVFOR MED.

His military experience and training is rounded out by an extensive academic parcous: He holds a German JD equivalent (state exam) in Law from Constance University, a French Master (MA) in International Business and Management from Cergy Pontoise University and combined a French Master (LLM) in Law and International Politics from Paris II Pantheon-Assas University. He has also taken correspondence courses in Military History at Columbia University.

Having worked as a lawyer for ten years, he has a strong background in legal advice (law of armed conflict, European law, media law, international contract law) as well as teaching at universities, public and private training institutions.

Consulting work includes projects for the European Commission, defence acquisition programme support for key actors of the European Defence Industry with an individual project net worth of up to 400 million EUR as well as serving as a defence expert for major French and German TV stations. He has chaired several international training courses and conferences, including for the French Parliament and other public institutions.

Michael Hellerforth is proficient in English, French, German and Spanish and has intermediate skills in Italian, Arabic, Dutch and Latin.


  • Cyber war: introduction to actors, means, risks and strategies
  • Social engineering – tools & doctrine of advanced industrial espionage
  • The Paris and Brussels attacks (Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan, Molenbeek) and the challenges for the German security architecture
  • The Islamic State – Historical Background – Development – Functioning
  • Introduction to counterinsurgency
  • Military intelligence: experience and lessons from Afghanistan
  • The war in Afghanistan – the background to a centuries-old conflict
  • Pakistan, India and the conflict in the Hindu Kush
  • Weapons smuggling in Africa – introduction to a complex phenomenon
  • The EU mission EUTM in Mali
  • The current French military operations in Africa – Background and Perspectives
  • French Army Operations – a blueprint for a strengthened European security policy?
  • France in Africa – a special relationship
  • Operation Serval – the French intervention in Mali
  • Operation Sangaris – the French intervention in the Central African Republic
  • The role of the former (?) Colonial powers in Africa – the case studies Germany, France, Great
    Britain … and China
  • Networked warfare and the future of armoured forces – perspectives and paradigm shifts
  • Current challenges to security and defence policies in Europe – chances and opportunities for the
    defence & aerospace industry
  • Psychological warfare and counter insurgency – experiences from the Afghanistan conflict
  • The “Modern War” – Psychological Warfare today
  • The world after Snowden – public relations and political information management in an ever more complex environment
  • Economic war in the 21st century – the example of Volkswagen
  • Disaster relief: Lessons from military operations: planning, logistics, leadership and C²
  • French Armed Forces Reserve – Context, Outline, Tasks
  • The Franco-German War 1870/1871 – planning, mobilization, leadership and operations
  • A hundred years after the First World War: German and French armed forces on operations today
  • The transformation of the Bundeswehr: reform, relaunch or revolution of German Defence Policy?
  • The relationship between politics and the military – the example of the Roman Empire
  • The Pacific War 1941-1943 – operational warfare with limited resources