Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers
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CIOR Language Academy (CLA) : a major contribution to interoperability and Connected Forces Initiative (CFI)

“CIOR advocates that a way to foster interoperability is to help reservists be better educated, trained and exercised.” Coming up first and foremost in these fields is the ability to master both NATO’s official languages : French and English. As the CIOR memorandum on CFI dated 2012/11/28 rightly points out :

“The CIOR Language Academy (CLA) was originally conceived as a way to improve the competence of reserve personnel from NATO and Partnership for Peace (PfP) countries. With the growing need for Reservists serving in staffs, CLA’s job is to facilitate linguistic understanding at the operational and staff levels. […] The CLA provides this improvement at minimal cost and delivers much for little money, mostly during the period when military school infrastructures and facilities are underutilized.

Moreover, and given the fact that interoperability sometimes encounters the inability to share common languages, NATO should encourage Member States to support their military personnel – esp. the Reservists – to develop these vital skills, by either funding it or supporting the faculty and operational means of the CLA.”

With the help of CLA administrative and financial officer, Dr Isabella Zanetto, a simple survey of former CLA students’ feedback was launched in February 2013 :

1 - Why did you attend CLA?
2 - Did you enjoy it? Why?
3 - Was CLA useful for your civilian/military life?

Answers from students of 11 different nationalities were fast and numerous. They are mind-opening and, if need be, fully justify CIOR’s commitment to CLA.

It is right and fitting to start with the current director of CLA (and a student at three CLA sessions), Capt USNR(Rtd) David Epstein. Capt Epstein enthusiastically speaks of " furthering his understanding of French and European culture” and being “much more useful to my country in the international forum of CIOR than I would be as a monolingual person.”

Behind the concise, verging on the terse military style of most answers to the survey lie treasures of commitment, open-mindedness, willingness to learn and train which, irrespective of a sometimes painstaking expression, do credit to students and faculty alike. The opportunity to practise languages, particularly to speak with other fellow-officers and thereby discovering the organization of their own reserve forces, thus having a specific insight into their histories and cultures, is a trademark of CLA.

Certification by means of the STANAG tests is a definite plus of CLA. It serves as a powerful incentive for students and maps out a progression made possible. Furthermore it is a well-recognized qualification in military activities. Having attended one or more sessions of CLA, students report having taken part in CIMIC exercises or Public affairs assignments.

The same applies to civilian jobs. 2nd Lt and Dr Polina Taleva Rusinova of Bulgaria states : “I attended seven times. My first CLA was at 2004 in Bulgaria and my last CLA was at 2010 in Vyskov. I started at beginner level and finished at advanced level. I also passed STANAG level two in the Czech Republic” and “Thanks to my improved English I found a job abroad as a doctor.” What an achievement !

Thus it appears that over the years many students from NATO and Pfp countries have successfully and profitably attended CLA courses. It is the first time that such a survey was carried out. It should not be the last. Extensive reporting on the outcome of CLA sessions should promote a renewed interest in this highly valuable contribution to CFI.

2013 event : CIOR Language Academy 2013

© 2012 Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers