Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers
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The CIOR solar system

To understand the work of CIOR it might help to picture the complex structure as a solar system – not more but not less. Depending on your point of view, CIOR could be seen as a constellation of national delegations – e.g. German, Czech or American and more than 30 others. Alternatively, CIOR can be viewed from a (1) functional perspective – for example Public Affairs Officer, convention organizer, athlete or delegation leader; or (2) from content driven perspective – such as discussing the Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) within the CIMIC Committee, working on the legal framework at Legal Committee or the others.  No matter the vantage point, it is easy to detract a variety of perspectives about the CIOR structure, which may provide evidence that CIOR’s organization structure is somewhat elastic from one presidency to the next.

As the attending reserve officers usually play several roles in the different subsystems of CIOR, every participating Reserve Officer experiences a unique matrix without a command structure or a counter part to hold on to. You would yet like an example? Take my case: German Air Force Major, Member of the Public Affairs Working Group, supporting the current presidency in public relations, at the same time Member of the German Delegation, responsible for media relation on national level, supporting the preparations for the upcoming congress in Germany. Take another example: The French project officer, who is in charge of the Symposium Working Group, is a member of international team which runs the symposium, at the same time he is member of the French delegation and supporting the presidency.

Without doubt the annual summer conference is the centre of the CIOR solar system attracting all working bodies. As all the work and energy has been concentrated towards this fixed star, the culminating point is comparable to an exploding supernova. Shortly after last year's Congress, the upcoming Congress is already influencing the trajectories of all CIOR luminaries and the latest on the Mid Winter Meeting to which they find an orbit, although it is not identical, has a common core. The committees as well as the delegation prepared the agenda, convention organizers and athletes are working flat out, and even CIOR members, who have not participated in the MWM, are moving towards their designation.

While on paper the agenda looks to be the same for all Congress participants, the trajectories of the celestial bodies are still vastly different.  For example, traveling as a group the American delegation typically arrives ahead of the planned activities to catch up from the time change. Some events take place before the Congress starts, such as the Academie Languace (CLAC) and the workshop on civil-military cooperation (CIMIC EXercise - CIMEX). Other parts of the Congress, such as the Young Reserve Officers Workshop (YROW) as well as the Military Competition usually start earlier and follow their on agenda even during the Congress week. The CIOR Symposium is indeed part of the Congress but for one day it opens to the general public.

There are not only the Reserve Officers of CIOR, but also reserve medical officers of CIOMR (Confédération Interalliée des Officiers Médicaux de Réserve) and the representatives of the ministries entrusted with the Reservists work, who are organizing the National Reserve Forces Committee (NRFC). They each meet with their own agendas, very different types of people are circulating at the Congress – some will be attracting, some colliding, some will never meet.

The luminous melting point for all celestial bodies of the CIOR solar system is the gala dinner. This is where the exhausted athletes meet the ambulance corps, Germans gather with the Danish, organizers meet up with the presidency and Ministry staff join the veterans.  For one evening all boundaries are overcome and the weightlessness of the black hole leaves the participants for the wing beat of a butterfly commonly lost in time and space.

But with the break of dawn the gravitation pulls back everyone into their daily life, which is often far from any military subjects, back to their families, back into their "civilian" orbit of friends. One is almost tempted to doubt whether this force of nature has just taken place at all - if it were not already the fast increasing attraction of the next Summer Congress.

The image of the supernova raises a question every Soldier with deployment experience is familiar with: Is there a deeper meaning to all of this? Is the effort taken - as an individual and as a community - worth doing it and if so, what for? There are operation areas like Kosovo, which make it easier to draw a positive balance - others such as Afghanistan or Iraq make it already difficult. Often lacking tangible metrics to definitively measure outputs of the commitment to CIOR is not always easy to explain, but to continue the metaphor, there are indirect benefits:
As well as all the other celestial bodies change our trajectory, we change the trajectory of our friends, of people we meet in our everyday lives and fellow comrades in the Reserve. The experience we gain with international cooperation within the framework of CIOR, we pass on to others. We encourage others to get involved in the society, we change the perspective of comrades on our NATO partners, bring in the experience in international cooperation into international missions, shape the image of the Reserve in professional life ...

CIOR Congresses - a personal and metaphorical view

Photos Released NASA / ESA

© 2012 Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers