Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers
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NATO´s Crucial Message Multipliers: The Reserves

A video message of Admiral James Stavridis (United States), Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR), stipulated the undoubted value of reservists for the Atlantic Alliance. The Admiral highlighted a key question in his address, of “how to use the Reserves effectively to support NATO´s operations around the world?” From his perspective this covers both, the operational and strategic level. The Admiral stresses clearly that “Reservists are assigned to be crucial in spreading the good message for example of Afghanistan in the capitals of the world”.

This year´s CIOR Symposium went still along the challenges NATO faces as the major security providing alliance around the world. Current and future missions require more and more a change in strategic, security and military thinking. An effective crisis management calls for a comprehensive approach involving political, civilian and military instruments and skills. The call also implements changes within military organizations – who are still essential - itself, particularly on capabilities and competences. While many armed forces in the alliance are still in progress of transformation, reservists perform two major advantages to their respective organizations. They gain flexibility on both levels – quantity and quality. First, they can be re-integrated und utilized when required. And secondly, they combine efficiently military skills with a large scale of civilian skills from various non-military fields, what multiplies the competences of military organizations especially in short and mid-term reaction challenges.

Transition in Afghanistan

To prepare a floor of sophisticated discussions the symposium kicked-off with a keynote speech by General Mieczysław Bieniek (Poland), Deputy commander of NATO´s Allied Command Transformation on the New Strategic Concept. The first panel of the day focused NATO´s primary mission. The central questions on the panel concentrated on a successful and sustainable withdraw from Afghanistan and how to spread the message that the mission is a success story? As observed many societies of contributing countries as well as the Afghan populace are becoming pessimistic about the outcome and end of the mission. The challenge for the alliance so far is to identify and to tell effectively the ongoing development, which can be observed every day in the country.

Modern Piracy

The second panel dealt with the fight against piracy primarily around the Horn of Africa. The modern maritime piracy has global impact as it is of complexity. The issue not only interlinks with the world financial crisis, it is also connected to effects of a failing state; regional instability; and limited economic prosperity. The results are an increase of transport costs and the instability of resupply with oil and resources.

Cyber warfare

As not new but of becoming more importance cyber warfare was discussed on the symposiums final panel. In a globalized and interlinked world cyber war describes the future dimension and threat of warfare. As of today, the entire issue hasn´t been explored in depth including all its consequences. For NATO and it´s member countries the shift in warfare scenarios means a huge challenge. That includes a shift from hardware such as tanks to bits and bytes like computers; and thus requires a total new security and warfare understanding. First of all, cyber attacks can be launched by a country but also by an anonymous enemy force; the attacks don´t run in accordance with physical national borders; and finally the outcome of attacks effects the real world.

CIOR Symposium in August 

In early August, the international reservist community held again an annual congress. This year the Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers (CIOR) members gathered in Warsaw/ Poland to discuss NATO´s New Strategic Concept as the overall issue. The CIOR community discussed furthermore on several panels the transition in Afghanistan; the fight against piracy; and the cyber warfare. More than several hundred delegates and reserve officers from more than 36 countries had the chance to discuss the subject with top speakers from several military institutions, NGO´s, Universities and Think-Tank´s.

Key product of CIOR

Tough but fruitful discussion arose during the entire day amongst the audience and the respective panel key speakers. The symposium relevancies a key product of CIOR and supports its mission to forge links between reservists and NATO; to national ministries of defence as well as between military; civilian and academic authorities. Keynote speakers of the day were General Mieczysław Cieniuch (Poland), Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces; Major General (ret.) Ashok Hukku (India); Mr. Sturla Henriksen (Norway), Norwegian ship-owners association; LDV Henry Delatte (Belgium), Belgian Federal Ministry of Justice; Admiral Pierre Martinez (France); Prof. Daniel Ventre (France), Centre National de Recherche Scientifique.

CIOR highlighted again the broad spectrum of Reserves and linked it with subjects which are of concern in the military headquarters. The results and recommendations of the symposium will be compiled to a report and afterwards presented to both, the SACEUR and the Military Committee, NATO´s highest military authority. Furthermore CIOR´s committees – the think-tanks of the organization - such as Defence and Security; Civil-Military-Cooperation; Partnership for Peace and Outreach or Legal Affairs will pick up the symposium results for their future work and research. In recent years the symposium´s focused on issues of “Employer Support”; “Recruitment and retention of Reservists”; and “NATO´s Comprehensive Approach - The Role of Reservists”.

The Interallied Confederation 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.

The presentations and the results of the symposium are available on the CIOR website at

Photos: Henry Plimack (US)

© 2012 Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers