Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers
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Comprehensive Approach (5/5) … New roles for Reservists.

This is a publication of the Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers (CIOR).

Read the first article in the series.


The Comprehensive Approach is the biggest issue in NATO today. For that reason the Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers (CIOR) organized a Symposium, highlighting this subject during its 2010 Summer Congress in August in Stavanger, Norway. The intention was to educate reserve officers on this topic; as one of the objectives of CIOR, reservists can bring these messages home to their respective stakeholders in the 36 countries that are member of CIOR. The role of the Reservists as they relate to the Comprehensive Approach was seen as critical to creating valuable insights for a successful end state in current operations.
The CIOR Symposium was held under the Chatham House Rules, meaning that no information or discussion could be subsequently attributed to an individual speaker. Accordingly, the opinions as stated in this article are not specifically referenced to their source.
This is the last of a series of articles where the Comprehensive Approach was addressed and elements of this new approach were explored. I want to thank my reviewers: Michael Ervin (Cdr CAN Navy reserve) who not only reviewed but also was the one who started it all by organizing such a great symposium in Stavanger (NOR) and Marie Michelle Faucher (Maj USAF reserve) who gave me lots of input as a native speaker and communication specialist. 
This series is a very good example of how CIOR, through a small Combined Joint Working Group, can produce CIOR products “in between meetings”! The tremendous help of the NATO IMS translation office and specifically Mme Sylvie Martine in not only translating the articles into French but also (and in the meantime) acting as reviewer must also be acknowledged with gratitude.

New roles for Reservists

And then now finally we come to the sub-title of the CIOR Symposium in Stavanger – "New Roles for Reservists". The Comprehensive Approach is not new, but the approach of NATO and its role within the Comprehensive Approach has changed.
As we saw in this series of articles, the Military Commander has always worked with others actors in the field, but he did that more or less from a position where “he was in charge”.  In the Comprehensive Approach, from a certain stage on, the Military Commander is no longer in charge of the full spectrum. Other actors will take over and the military will simply then be responsible for a safe and secure environment.
That will mean that the Military Commander will need other skills and related resources. As we saw in this series, in the initial stages he will need to do "whatever is necessary” to start activities to get to the next stage. That could mean he needs an overall development plan – where Reservists can bring the civilian skills he needs. The same applies for the start of development. All kinds of projects need to be started, and Reservists who can run projects and who have the civilian skills, can do that for the Military Commander. In the subsequent stages, the Military Commander will need to communicate and coordinate with all kinds of civilian organizations. In that field, Reservists can “speak both languages” and can help the military by “translating”, as members who have a foot in both the military and civilian worlds. 

Legal & Organization

Of course, theory and practice are two different things. First of all, not all countries are at the same legal level. If the legislation of a country is fully directed to reservists being the follow-on fighting force of the army, these new roles cannot be performed. It will need adaptation of the legislation to these new roles to make it happen. The same applies for organization. Organization at al levels should be adapted to take in these roles for reservists and to get it working.
For as long as all this official work is not done, we as reservists should try to make it happen anyway; finding the possibilities in legislation instead of dwelling on the hurdles, can help you along the path of evolution towards a solution.
In this change process NATO can help, but even more, CIOR can!! In the CIOR Constitution it is written:
2.2 Its (CIORs) objectives shall be as follows:
2.2.2 Generally (and primarily through the Members of CIOR) to study and (where appropriate and always respecting national differences and traditions) to promote harmonization in the roles, duties and rights of reserves in the allied countries.

So CIOR could study these problems, give advice to countries how to change legislation and organization in such a way that the use of the civilian capabilities is made possible and more effective.
Many countries already made a CIMIC Organization in several different ways. In the recent CIMIC Capabilities Study of the CIOR CIMIC Committee, one will find these organizations. If you don't know yet what your priorities in the CIMIC field are and if you are looking for the best organizational structure, please let your Reservists join this Committee and work with their peers to study the best organizational structure for you.
For the Legal world, the same applies. In CIOR’s Legal Committee there is a world of Legal knowledge. Its members have easy access to the legislation of their respective countries and through their committee work, can help a member to make proposals to change the legislation to make better use of the reservists in the Comprehensive Approach.
So we say to Reserve Officer Associations: please convince your Council and/or your Ministry of Defense of the importance of joining the CIOR Committees and Working Groups to exchange information on Legislation and practices!!

International use of Reserves

Last but not least, I would like to refer to the idea the President of CIOR presented to NATO’s Military Committee in July 2010 in Brussels during his yearly briefing. The President then presented the possibility to use the civilian skills of Reservists in joint operations. 
The President referred to the Senior Civil Emergency Planning Committee (SCEPC) that operates within the NATO Headquarters. This Committee recruits specialists from all over NATO and uses them to brief the SCEPC whenever necessary in times of crisis.
Of course these specialists are called for with consent of their national authorities.
One can imagine the same with reservists. If NATO should have a database with civilian skills of reservists, every country in any NATO operation could call for use of reservists in a joint operation. Of course the reservist could only be used with permission of his national authority, but all capabilities could be available to all NATO nations. This would entail a NATO-wide consensus to use reservists for this purpose, but it would help development in several ways. First, it would help countries that are struggling now with reforms to work directly with reservists from other countries in operations so that they can use civilian skills right away. Second, it would help those countries with the development itself. They can experience the use of reservists in these roles and could convince their government to organize and change legislation in such a way that they can use their own reservists in the same way. And thirdly, more NATO countries could be involved in operations at a reduced level by only participating with their reservists in the area of operations of another NATO country.
What would this mean to the NATO organization? NATO first of all should reach consensus on this concept to work jointly with reservists. Most countries are only starting some kind of cooperation in this field by bi-lateral agreement mostly to give reservists opportunities to participate in exercises abroad. But this concept goes further and deeper. So that would be the first challenge.
Then, NATO should make and operate a database just like the one for SCEPC, and all countries should participate in filling that database with the civilian skills of the reservists they want to make available for joint operations.
Finally, NATO should – maybe through the Legal Committee of CIOR – help countries that want to participate in this joint endeavor, to adapt their legislation in such a way that their reservists can participate in joint operations.
This could be a way to speed up the use of reservists in NATO Operations but especially in the Comprehensive Approach where civilian skills are needed in several ways to assist the Military Commander. The common goal that is inherent in the Comprehensive Approach will mean much more co-operation and coordination, and for that reason, much more use of civilian skills – to start development but above all to talk with the other actors in a way they can understand, and with skills they will recognize. 
This is the last of a series of 5 articles from CIOR on the Comprehensive Approach, derived from the CIOR Symposium on “NATO’s Comprehensive Approach and the Role of Reservists” held on the 11th of August 2010 in Stavanger (NO).  

© 2012 Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers