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CIOR and NATO’s Connected Forces initiative

CIOR and NATO’s Connected Forces initiative - Strategic lines for the future of Reserves - Interview of the President of CIOR on the Connected Forces Initiative.

Cpt (R) Maronneaud: Mr. President, just back from a visit to Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT) in Norfolk, can you describe the Connected Forces Initiative? How is it linked to the current agenda of NATO and of NATO nations?

CDR Roll, President of CIOR: Well, the NATO Chicago Summit, in the spring of 2012, endorsed existing initiatives, such as “Smart Defence”, and essentially came up with the so-called “Connected Forces Initiative” (CFI). While it has always been NATO’s “raison d’être” to enable and promote interoperability among nations, this time the aim is to boost the effectiveness and efficiency of how national forces actually train and perform operations as well as exercise with NATO. In addition, an important part of CFI addresses concepts, doctrine, organizational structures, equipment and systems.

In a July 2012 letter to the Military Committee and NRFC, SACT asked for advice on how the Reserves can contribute to this key NATO initiative. In accordance with the MC documents describing the respective missions and mutual cooperation of CIOR and NRFC (National Reserve Forces Committee of NATO), the Chairman of the latter has also asked CIOR for advice.

As a result, a working process has been initiated, facilitated by the French Presidency of CIOR, and specifically tackled by the Defense and Security Committee of CIOR. All CIOR nations have been asked to contribute, and more than 12 have actually done so, which is an outstanding achievement in just a few weeks. The CIOR so-called “in-between meeting” in Paris, which gathered over 60 CIOR heads of delegation, committee chairs and delegates mid-November 2012, has helped to move forward what has become the CIOR Memorandum 28/11/2012 on “Reserve and Connected Forces”. This Memorandum can be downloaded on

I will come back on my meetings at the Headquarters of Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in Norfolk during the upcoming CIOR Mid-Winter Meeting in Brussels between January 31st and February 2nd. At this point I can already share that the welcome and interest of SACT and his team have been just extraordinary, and that the Reserve and CIOR are definitely on their agenda more than ever now. They expect deep cooperation with us on e-learning, communication, selected Smart Defence projects. Connected forces is seen by SACT as the natural vehicle to move the reserve forward within the Alliance, and we will definitely follow his advice.

Cpt (R) Maronneaud: Can you outline the main ideas contained in the 28/11/2012 CIOR Memorandum on Reserve & Connected Forces?

CDR Roll, President of CIOR: In essence, CIOR’s Memorandum starts from the assumption that in a time of uncertainty, a new focus on Reserve forces is mandatory. How to implement the professionalization of the Reservist, being “twice a citizen” and able to cope with both his civilian life and his military duty, has proved a key issue. 

Actually, CIOR advocates that a way to foster interoperability is to help Reservists be better educated, trained and exercised. The CIOR Memorandum focuses on the following specific domains:
• Improve language skills: NATO should encourage Member States to support their military personnel – esp. the Reservists – to develop these vital skills, by either funding or supporting the faculty and operational means of the CIOR Language Academy;
• Increase the possibility for Reservists to attend NATO schools or Education centers. In addition, CIOR has developed or promoted a range of common education and training concepts, most of them linked to the CIOR Summer Congress, such as the civil-military (CIMIC) Concentration, the Summer Symposium or the very popular Young Reserve Officers’ Workshop. These training and exercising opportunities need to be supported by nations in order to be continued and further developed;
• Promote Reserve positions within national and international e.g. NATO Staffs and widen the possibility to access to, and share “specialists” from the Reserve: the NATO Response Force (NRF), Joint Headquarters (JHQs) activities, European Union Battle Groups (EUBGs) exercises, just to name a few. Reservists “augmentees” should always train with the Regular staff to foster mutual knowledge. NATO, whether at SHAPE or ACT (both in Norfolk and in Europe) could look into the development of international pools of reservists in support of the conduct of  NATO major exercises and experiments.
Last but not least, one of the key missions of the Reserves is to bridge the gap between society and defense. Being not only twice a citizen, but also a volunteer in a lot of other associations (religious, sports, economic, trade unions, local or national politics), the Reservist represents a large social network, also on-line on the Internet. This is exactly what we are doing day-in, day-out at CIOR.

Cpt (R) Maronneaud: What is the way forward?

CDR Roll, President of CIOR: As mentioned before, SACT sees CFI as the right frame for our CIOR action in favor of the reserve.  In essence, there will be a North Atlantic Council meeting in ministries of defense format in February 2013. After getting the endorsement of the CIOR Council, I see a clear way forward paving the way for strategic lines for an operationalized CIOR Reserve for the years to come:
• Employer support focus this Summer (CIOR Symposium expected to be on this subject);
• Promoting e-learning (in liaison with nations and with ACT);
• Promoting high-level education of reservists, from senior-strategic levels (war academies, well-known bodies such as the NATO Defence College or the George Marshall Institute;
• Promoting participation in exercises, by developing international pools of reservists at FHQ level, but also at the level of the 2 strategic commands of NATO, ACT (both in the US and in Europe) as well at SHAPE / SACEUR level, leveraging the network of training & exercising facilities of NATO and cornerstone multinational exercises and experiments.
Together we can help shape the future of CIOR. This is what we owe the younger generations who are already actively involved in the reserves and CIOR and will one day take the helm of this organization …

© 2012 Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers