Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers
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CIOR Symposium Panel on Local Governance Capacity Building for Crisis Management and Community Preparedness

Crisis management and community preparedness in the context of natural or industrial disasters, terrorist attacks, etc., in urban environments, pose growing challenges to local governments. The objective of this Panel is to discuss hands-on practices and challenges for crisis management at local level, seen by decision makers from Local Government, Military Authorities, and NATO.

In a major international city like New York City, handling a crisis starts with properly and quickly assessing its size and responding accordingly, says Commissioner Joe Bruno. It is all about having the political sponsorship, the structure, and processes ready, in order to “grow big enough, fast enough” in response to any crisis. Careful and detailed planning must be combined with developing a generic scenario. This will facilitate the alignment of many different players and agencies, such as firefighters or the military (mainly reservists from the National Guard and the Federal Armed forces) that will provide support to local governments.
Planning and establishing solid scenarios, to which you bring to life by proper exercising, are also key to managing crises where a high military or terror threat occurs within densely populated areas, according to General Gavish from Israel. Establishing a defense system against rockets, as in the case of Iron Dome, is not only a challenging and ambitious project from a defense/military perspective. It also requires a lot of cooperation with local governments and even reaching out to the inhabitants themselves for information, training, resilience and readiness in case of threats and/or attacks. This requires leadership commitment and a ready state of mind. The need for crisis management capacities must be understood by leaders, by the organizations involved in the crisis, and by the public. In Israel, most of the military capacities deployed in case of major crisis are reservists.
For Colonel Roussinov, from the NATO Crisis Management and Disaster Response Center of Excellence, the wide variety of crises and conflicts which have confronted the Alliance brings extremely valuable lessons learned. First and foremost, a comprehensive political, civilian and military approach is crucial to effectively manage a major crisis. The NATO strategic concept (2010) underlines four key areas of work: planning and conduct of operations; training, education and exercising; cooperation with external actors and public messaging. The reservists can almost be seen as key enablers to the comprehensive approach, given their unique positioning and their familiarity with both military and civilian crisis management processes.
As shown by the panel discussions and questions from the audience, in case of a major crisis, reservists are actually more than just a reinforcement that can be mobilized, through military channels. They embody skills and approaches required to manage a broad spectrum of crises, from natural disasters to war. Their presence, as individuals, in cities, should be known and leveraged by local governments. Reservists are assets of choice to perform planning, training, exercising actions, not to mention the value they add to handling crises situations as such.  Reaching out to reservists, as individual civilians, opens a new field of actions for both local government and reservists. This process is best facilitated by the associations of reservists within CIOR.



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