Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers
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Battlefield Experience-Based Training for Reserve Officers in Poland

The sun is shining and it seems to be a perfect day. Suddenly, a unit comes under a heavy complex attack by enemy forces – they request support from higher command. As the supporting party arrives, the scenario they encounter looks horrible. Several of their comrades are suffering from battle inflicted wounds classified as Category “CAT” A, CAT B, or CAT C:  CAT A basically means the soldier is probably going to die, lose a limb, or lose his eyesight if not quickly treated. CAT B is more like someone who’s been shot in the foot – debilitating, but not immediately life-threatening. CAT C might be some kind of non-life-threatening illness or a broken finger. Since the attack has been fended off by the NATO ground force, medical treatment is now the top priority. This is reminiscent of current security missions in Afghanistan where soldiers face dangerous situations on daily basis. But why in Poland?

In early August, 2011, the Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers (CIOR) held its annual summer congress in Warsaw, Poland. One premier segment is the one-week Military Competition (MilComp) which is held in conjunction with the congress. The use of reservists in the battlefields has increased in recent years. Two reasons can be stated for this: flexible capacity and a wide spectrum of competencies beyond military means. U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR), backed both aspects in a motivating video message to the participants of the congress and the competition by stipulating the undoubted value of reservists for the Atlantic alliance.

NATOs lessons learned part for Reserves pre-deployment training

From this perspective the competition has close and direct linkages to the current missions of NATO and its member and partner countries. The competition covers many aspects of pre-deployment training and contains five disciplines on a more or less real or abstracted level compared to real requirements. The competition includes fundamental basics such as first aid; Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC); obstacle course, land navigation and orientation, and a shooting qualification.
Judges, experts in their respective disciplines, ensured that all curriculum and training was based on the latest evaluation of “boots on the ground” lessons from the field.

Combat Casualty Care

During the first scenario, the competitors need to present their First Aid skills. Those who recently attended pre-deployment training experienced exactly how much First Aid has evolved within the last years and what is now more precisely described as Combat Casualty Care. Soldiers received intensive training in medical gear and techniques such as using a tourniquet, QuickClot, morphine auto injectors, thoracic puncture or intravenous infusions in order to provide the correct medical treatment. The competition was designed as a complete training course. As such, the competitors first received first all theoretical lectures from medical experts who are also reservists. This crucial knowledge was provided by reservists of the Interallied Confederation of Medical Reserve Officers (CIOMR), the medical specialized pendant of CIOR.

Language interoperability

When the soldiers arrive at the scene of the attack and resulting casualties, they have to face a hidden challenge: language. As a realistic scenario, units from different countries interoperate in the missions. Thus the importance of multilingual skills has also increased to provide the right aid. Fortunately, some of the soldiers recently participated in the CIOR Language Academy, held the week prior in Chişinău, Moldova. Besides developing the students’ ability to work on deployed multinational operations, the ability to speak English or French is also undoubtedly an important asset whenever that Reservist is called to work outside his or her home country. The prevalence of these two languages throughout NATO and the world ensures that this additional language capability will benefit both the member and his service.

Counter-Insurgency and Law of Armed Conflict

As NATO troops operate more and more in urban terrain where they got attacked by non-military actors and insurgents, the so called Three Block War scenario requires from every single soldier to be ready to conduct full scale military actions, peacekeeping operations and humanitarian aid within the space of three contiguous city blocks. This requires ongoing situation assessments as well as precise targeting and shooting only if necessary. The Counterinsurgency (COIN) Strategy claims the prevention of civilian casualties as the overall priority and builds now the basis for field operations. New codes of conduct and rules of engagement underline this approach. To make sure that the competitors understand and behave to those principles, a test of the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) is also part of the competition. This by no means impairs a soldier’s ability to use their weapons. It only guaranties that the principles give clear guidance on the use of force. Thus the proper use of weapons is a training imperative that was covered by the shooting competition. The competitors had to prove their shooting skills combined with the ability to handle weapons from different countries.

Physical Fitness and Teamwork

The obstacle course, another task of the one week competition, focused on physical fitness; team building; and overall cooperation of the competitors. Soldiers have carried heavy loads of personal weapons and equipment since ancient times. Physical fitness has always been essential to effectively carry out missions, especially while operating with additional gear such as body armor. The competitors start in teams of three members and are required to finish the
obstacle course together as a team. Only be helping each other can the competitors overcome all obstacles. The course becomes a multifaceted challenge when some of the teams start as mixed international teams, which is also a lingual and intercultural challenge to become an effective team.

The final test of the week marks the land navigation orientation run, which will be conducted in unknown terrain and where the competitors have to reach different spots as fast as they can. The only support equipment is a small map and compass. The overall aim is first, to prove their ability to operate as a team under physical and psychological stress over several hours. Second it tests the ability to survive or to orient one’s self in an unknown area.

Combat readiness is an everlasting task for both active soldiers and their reserve counterparts. After the challenging competition week the competitors have presented their upmost skills. The Military Competition is a relevant and key product of CIOR: to train reserve officers in combat readiness and prepare them for a deployment.

The Interallied Conferderation of Reserve Officers, commonly referred to by its French acronym CIOR, represents the interests of over 1.3 million reservists across 36 participating nations within and beyond NATO, making it the world´s largest military reserve officer organization. Further information is available on the CIOR website at

The Interallied Confederation of Medical Reserve Officers (CIOMR) is an umbrella organisation, in which the national existing associations of reserve medical surgeons of the NATO member states are united. As political independent and separate organisation the CIOMR makes a significant contribution to force the alliance and the further development of the military medicine, pharmacy and security policy in their homelands with the aid of further and professional training activities. Further information is available on the CIOMR website at

- More pictures of the 2011 CIOR Military Competition will be available at:
- Competition results are ready for download.

© 2012 Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers