Two seasoned military leaders reflected on the significance of the pandemic, including the role of international alliances, security challenges faced by the U.S., Europe and other nations, and what lies ahead during the sixth installment of the Jackson Institute’s Virtual Discussion Forum series on COVID-19 and global affairs.

More than 380 attendees tuned in to hear from Gen. Sir Graeme Lamb, former director of UK Special Forces and Commander of the British Field Army, and Gen. Jim Mattis, former U.S. Secretary of Defense and Commander of U.S. Central Command. Ted Wittenstein, Jackson’s deputy director for leadership programs, moderated the conversation, and Jim Levinsohn, Jackson’s director, offered brief opening remarks and introductions.

The speakers offered their candid assessments in many dimensions of the issue, including the possibility of a global recession, the fragility of supply chains, the competence of leaders, and whether the social contract is in jeopardy.

“The impact will be greater than 9/11,” Mattis said. “People will be both scared and scarred by this for years to come.”

Lamb underscored the importance of international cooperation, warning that the next pandemic could be worse. “Character is really exposed in times of great crisis,” Lamb said.

Mattis emphasized the need for leaders who have both competence and empathy. “It could be what Winston [Churchill] called ‘our finest hour,” he said.

Watch a recording of the discussion