– Rhetoric and perception often exaggerate the reality on the ground

The third and final day of the 2021 CIOR Seminar promised to keep the excitement of the first two days. Two guest speakers shared their views on the Arctic and whether the area is at risk for future conflict or not.

By: Mr. Paul Strobel, Officer Cadet, Bundeswehr

The speakers were Dr. Christoph Humrich, Assistant Professor in International Relations and Security Studies and Associate Researcher at the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen, and Dr. Michael Paul, security policy expert and Senior Fellow at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) in Berlin.

Dr. Humrich first tried to capture the state of the region by distinguishing between warm peace, normal peace, cold peace, cold war and actual military engagement (“hot war”).

“Warm peace, normal peace, cold peace, cold war and actual military engagement (hot war)” – Dr. Humrich

Taking a historical perspective, he reminded participants that the area has been no stranger to change: Having seen a lot of combat activity during World War 2, this era of a ‘hot war’ was followed by the cold war in which military engagement was always looming.

From Gorbachev’s Murmansk speech in 1987 towards the founding of the Arctic Council one could speak of an era of ‘cold peace’, followed by normal peace in the region when cooperation between the regional states intensified (1996-2014), and military action seemed very unlikely. The Russian invasion of Crimea also left its traces in the high north, with tensions between Russia and the west so high that the normal peace again gave way to cold peace, meaning the military action in the area seemed possible again.

“Today we see new rising tensions, and we need to be careful not to end up back in a cold war situation” – Dr. Humrich

“Today we see new rising tensions, and we need to be careful not to end up back in a cold war situation”, Dr. Humrich said.

Importantly, though, Dr. Humrich pointed out one key fact: In Arctic scenarios, regional conflicts escalate and then spill over into other areas of the world. During the post-cold war period this was however not a very likely scenario – for various reasons. Yet, as Dr. Humrich explained: “Today we look at the exact opposite scenario. Conflict in other areas is said to spill over into the Arctic.”

He expanded on this by showing that rhetoric and perceptions of the region often have exaggerated the reality on the ground. One reason is an information bias, rooted in our media systems, where “bad news make headlines”. Also the military might have a bias as it is its task to focus on threats, sometimes leading to “institutionalised paranoia.”

Threat inflation can also be used for institutional reasons, Dr. Humrich explained: “For the Canadian, Danish and Norwegian military, to name some examples, the security situation in the Arctic has provided legitimization to ask for additional resources in the face of chronic underfunding.”

“Rhetoric and perceptions of the (Arctic) region have often exaggerated the reality on the ground” – Dr. Humrich

Dr. Humrich also reminded participants of the complexity of geopolitics and the Arctic, especially by pointing out that we often wrongly assume that geopolitical change in a region is also caused in the region. Instead, we must on the one hand take a look at factors beyond the Arctic. On the other hand, we need to understand that domestic changes within the Arctic countries, by contrast to their relations with each other, might influence their Arctic foreign and security policies, he said.

Government agencies and non-state actors within a country can have different goals and motivations. Their competition and strategies for resource access and attention can – like shifts of public opinion or different parties in power – influence the respective perception of the Arctic, the following rhetoric, and direction of policies.

This, Dr. Humrich illustrated with an example: “From 2018 the US Coast Guard and Navy used a much inflated security rhetoric regarding the Arctic to bolster their demand for new ice breakers, which was on the table already for two decades. They renamed the ice breakers ‘Polar Security Cutters’ and explicitly explained this with the traction of security to get more funding from congress”.

This was before the Trump administration had ventured the idea to repurpose money that the navy and coast guard secured in this way for the plans to build a wall on the Mexico border.

The example neatly highlighted Dr. Humrich’s remarks about internal and global factors influencing the Arctic. “We need to avoid regionalism and statism bias. Arctic security is more complicated and more contingent on global and domestic factors than many observers suggest”, he said.

“Arctic security is more complicated and more contingent on global and domestic factors than many observers suggest” – Dr. Humrich

Dr. Humrich closed his talk by warning participants to pay attention to rhetoric and perception: “NATO does not need an Arctic strategy, it’s rather the North Atlantic (e.g. Greenland-Iceland-UK gap) they need to be worried about.”

If you force the impression in Russia, that you’re encroaching on the Arctic, the alarm bells go off in the Kremlin,” he said, suggesting that the Western states and the EU should seek cooperation with Russia in the Arctic. He pointed out that there are plenty of low-cost opportunities for confidence building.

After a lively discussion with Dr. Humrich in the Q&A session, it was the turn of Dr. Michael Paul, security policy expert and Senior Fellow at the Stiftung Sicherheit und Politik (SWP), who introduced his paper “Arctic Security Environment in Flux: Mitigating Geopolitical Competition through a Military-Security Dialogue” to the participants (Link to Article).

The Murmansk Initiative and The Arctic Council

Also Dr. Paul started with the historical perspective, and reminded participants that during the cold war too, the Arctic was heavily militarised. This changed with the Murmansk Initiative of 1987, which aimed to scale down military activity in the area and sparked a de-securitisation of the high north.

Following this period the eight Arctic states saw a high potential for cooperation in the area, a spirit which ultimately lead to the creation of the Arctic Council. This body focused on sustainable development and cooperation and the signing of the Search and Rescue Agreement was an example of interstate cooperation.

The Arctic Council from the beginning focused on sustainable development and cooperation. Photo: U.S. Department of State.

But, Dr. Paul points out, as the war against Georgia started in 2008, Russia re-started its long-range air patrols into the Arctic, and patrolled Arctic waters with parts of its northern fleet.

The security dilemma

In this way, Russia reopened the militarisation in the region, which leads to a security dilemma. Dr. Paul illustrated this by pointing out two strategically important points from NATO’s perspective, called Bear Gap around ‘Bear Island’ between northern Norway and Svalbard, and the GIUK Gap between Greenland, Iceland and the UK. Near the Bear Gap Russia announced an impact area for its strategic missile tests in response to the US deployment of strategic bombers to Norway.

As far as China’s role in the region is concerned, Dr. Paul pointed out that the country is being drawn into the Arctic by the tensions between Russia and the US.

“China has established its interests in the region”, he said and continued, “Sea routes have a huge impact on the economy and development of China, and the Arctic Ocean has much less risk than the southern route through the Malacca Straight and the Suez Canal.”

Dr. Paul explained that China’s modernisation of its naval forces could play a role in Arctic security, as China is modernising its navy mainly to secure shipping lanes: “The Chinese Navy will likely promote arctic equipment by the year 2030. The Chinese Navy could potentially play a huge role in the Arctic of the future.”

“The Chinese Navy could potentially play a huge role in the Arctic of the future” – Dr. Paul

Dr. Paul ended his talk by pointing out that the Arctic is no longer insusceptible to tensions from around the world. “The Arctic Region is in flux”, he said, “It is no longer immune to great power competition.”

Dr. Paul advocated for an open dialogue and furthering cooperation with Russia to reduce tensions in the area and suggested reinviting Russia to the Arctic Security Council as a crucial step to rebuild trust and cooperation for the future.

After a discussion of this talk it fell to former ambassador Philippe Welti, who had opened the 2021 CIOR Seminar two days ago, to deliver the closing remarks.

He summed up the experts’ views of the last couple of days by stating: “We started with the question weather the Arctic is a new area of conflict and I hinted at the possibility that the answer to that question might not be so dramatic.”

German and Russian scientists working together in the Siberian Laptev Sea. Photo: Dr. Heidemarie Kassens/GEOMAR.

There are a lot of factors that speak against a conflict erupting in the far north – but, ambassador Welti pointed out, “We know that Russia has a tendency to engage in high risk and adventurism.” Mr. Welti also reiterated that there is a stark difference between the reality on the ground, political rhetoric and public perception: “If repeated often enough rhetoric can create conflict”, he warned.

Ambassador Welti finally reminded the seminar participants that the Arctic’s conflict potential, unlike in the South China Sea and in Taiwan, is very much in our hands. “We can control the rhetoric and lean on the Arctic Council as a first line of defence. The second line of defence is the existing security framework in Europe and the third is a dialogue with Russia.”

“We can control the rhetoric and lean on the Arctic Council as a first line of defence” -Philippe Welti, moderator

Lieutenant Colonel (R) Hans Garrels, the Seminar Chairman, called on all participants to share their new-found knowledge: “It is on us as reserve officers to carry this knowledge to our respective governments and institutions. We have the privilege to look beyond a purely military perspective, and we should share this view with those who need to hear it,” he said.

With these words he concluded the 2021 CIOR Seminar. While the informal get-together usually associated with the Seminar is dearly missed this year, the event organizers are hoping for in-person attendance at next year’s iteration in Bonn.

The Arctic – a geopolitical Hotspot

After a successful first day, anticipation for day two of the 2021 CIOR Seminar ran high. Two exciting talks waited for the participants. Dr. Duncan Depledge, Lecturer in Geopolitics and Security from Loughborough University introduced the CIOR Seminar participants to the geopolitical situation in the far north, and Dr. Pavel K. Baev, Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO) and Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institute, took a deeper look at Russia’s security posture in the Arctic.

By: Mr. Paul Strobel, Officer Cadet, Bundeswehr

Dr. Depledge set the scene by reminding participants that the Arctic is not in fact the vast cold emptiness so many of us imagine when we hear about the region. Despite that the area is dominated by water and ice, it has been inhabited for thousands of years.

The population usually is part of one of the sovereign states surrounding the Arctic. The US, Canada, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia comprise the Arctic Council, which aims to further cooperation in the area and also offers a seat for representatives of the indigenous people living in the high north.

The Arctic Council works on consensus and excludes military and security matters because they are considered to be too divisive.

The US – no more “a reluctant Arctic state”

Dr. Depledge reminded the seminar participants of the statement of former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who called out Russia’s and China’s aggressive behaviour in the region and shifted the US status from a “reluctant arctic state” to one who is heavily involved in the area.

With the Arctic now firmly on the US radar, Dr. Depledge highlighted three main interests for the US in the far north.

Firstly, there is homeland defence, mainly aimed against the missile threat from northern Russia. The second US concern is Chinese commercial and scientific infiltration, which they fear might be an excuse for a long-term military build-up in the area. Thirdly, Dr. Depledge stated: “The Arctic increasingly links the US to the rest of the world.”

“They [the US]don’t necessarily look at this space as one to conquer and hold, but as one they want to secure passage through.” …and linking this potential field of conflict to one area that is very high on NATO’s agenda, Dr. Depedge continued: “A crisis in the Baltics will undoubtedly have consequences for the Arctic as one major supply line.”

Speaking about Russia’s strategy for the region, Dr. Depledge stated three main goals for the federation: Extraction of natural resources, keeping NATO away from their territory and projecting naval forces globally. From a military perspective, Dr. Depledge explained: “What Russia doesn’t want is a) encirclement and b) a fight in the Russian arctic. So what they do is (to) project force in the Atlantic.”

Russian Special Forces in the 200th Independent Motor Rifle Brigade of the Northern Fleet training with reindeer sleds. Photo: Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.

As far as China’s role in the Arctic is concerned, Dr. Depledge called for caution. “We often hear that China is trying to buy its way into the high north. But we don’t see much evidence of that. We also don’t see a military effort there.”

What China does do however is trying to expand its reach by diplomatic and mostly scientific means. Dr. Depledge explained: “What China ultimately wants is geopolitical influence. So if and when the Artic becomes more important, China wants to be in a position where they have a say in matters. They don’t want to be excluded.” Science and some economic investment in the area are their way to make sure they have a seat at the table, he explained.

A detailed look at Russia’s role

After a lively discussion, the Seminar reconvened for the second talk of the day – with Dr. Pavel K. Baev of PRIO, who took a more detailed look at Russia’s role in the region.

Right from the beginning Dr. Baev emphasised: “Russia is the arctic superpower. In the rest of the world it may not be able to keep up, but as far as the arctic is concerned they are a superpower and they are very proud of that position.” This, Dr. Baev showed, is emphasised by the attention the far north gets from Putin personally and the strong public feelings about the Arctic in Russia.

Dr. Baev detailed two tracks of Russia’s arctic policy: Firstly, collaboration based on politics and economic development in the area, and secondly, a strong military build-up.

“On the military track, confrontation feels good for Russia. The more NATO activity in the north, the more Russia emphasises the need for a military build-up there”

Concerningly, Dr. Baev pointed out, the collaborative spirit hasn’t shown any major rewards for Russia recently, while the military aspects have. “On the military track, confrontation feels good for Russia. The more NATO activity in the north, the more Russia emphasises the need for a military build-up there”, Dr. Baev explained on the security paradox in the region.

Particularly the nuclear super-concentration on the Kola Peninsula is a great concern in this regard. A high concentration of ballistic missiles and nuclear submarines in the area are not only dangerous in a direct military sense, but have proven accident prone in the past with catastrophic consequences often only narrowly avoided. But, as Dr. Baev explained, “Russia sees risk taking as a strategic advantage vis-à-vis a reluctant west.”

Svalbard at risk

One risk Russia might be tempted to take, in Dr. Baevs opinion, would be a Crimea-style invasion of the Norwegian territory of Svalbard, which would guarantee Russian access to the western seas. With the island being demilitarised, Dr. Baev raised concerns about its security and NATO’s ability to protect and retake it, should conflict arise.

But Dr. Baev also pointed out that Russia is currently distracted and preoccupied in other strategic theatres, which are a lot more pressing. His hope is that Russia’s presidency in the Arctic Council this year will further the collaborative spirit of Russia’s engagement in the Arctic.

Dr. Baev pointed out that Russia’s position in the Asia-Pacific sphere is extremely weak and although China isn’t currently pressing at these weaknesses, we don’t know how this situation will develop over time.

– China wants access, trade and economic value

With regard to China’s activity in the arctic itself, Dr. Baev pointed out: “China is not interested at all in the Russian military build-up in the Arctic. What they want is access, trade and economic value.”

Like the first day, the second day also ended with a very lively discussion among seminar participants, with participants linking together the two lectures and furthering their understanding of the Arctic and its strategic ramifications.


Exciting first Day of CIOR Seminar

With the Coronavirus still looming, the first day of the 2021 CIOR Seminar kicked off online. The chairman of the CIOR Seminar Committee, Lieutenant  Colonel (R) Hans Garrels opened this year’s Seminar, titled “The Arctic: New Area of Conflict?”, with 64 participants from 19 nations attending.

By: Mr. Paul Strobel, Officer Cadet, Bundeswehr

It fell to long time CIOR friend and expert on strategic affairs, ambassador Philippe Welti to introduce the topic, which is an unfamiliar field for most participants. Ambassador Welti set the scene right away in highlighting that the Arctic is in fact only an ocean and the smallest in the world:

“It consists only of water, some of it frozen.” This icy part of the world has not produced much conflict potential in the past, but recent political rhetoric suggests that the areas’ peaceful days might be nearing their end. Reason enough, that NATO’s reserve officer association should inform itself about it.

While the Arctic in itself, at first glance, holds only a limited potential for conflict, there is one fundamental change at work which might upset what some call the strategic balance in the north: Climate change.

Seminar Chairman, Lieutenant Colonel (R) Hans Garrels. Screenshot by Paul Strobel.

While most economic activity in the far north was struggling to become profitable, having to operate under harsh climate conditions with the ice caps melting, new trade routes have become accessible. Previously unreachable natural resources have been attracting attention, possibly changing the region’s strategic equation.

Ambassador Welti highlighted the various limitations to the conflict potential of this, but also noted the stark difference between the regional strategic facts and the political language surrounding the Arctic as what he called “A case of rhetoric irresponsibility”.

“Conflict will erupt if you speak often enough about it.”, he stated, “But that shouldn’t stop us from taking a deeper look at the issue.”

The participants then discussed the issue in a Q&A session. One participant from Norway, who has extensive experience in the Arctic, highlighted his concern for the region: “From the Bering Sea to the North Cape, an ice curtain has descended across the polar sea. The Russian Federation is testing us and acts very forcefully in the region,” he said.

After a short break it was time for the first guest speaker: Nikos Tsafos, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), also focused on Russia and drew the participants’ attention to the economic factors at play in the Arctic in his talk on Russia’s oil and gas exploration in the Arctic.

Mr. Tsafos introduced the historical context of resource exploration for oil and gas in the region, which was only explored for these purposes in the 1960’s and 70’s as a response to the Arab oil embargo. After this introduction, Mr. Tsafos offered insights in the oil and gas production numbers from Russia and concluded for anyone not following the large charts: “There are A lot of resources in the Arctic”.

He then expanded on three fields of Russian resource exploitation in the far north: Oil exports, gas exports via land pipelines, and LNG gas exports via ships. His talk highlighted that Russia’s big plans for oil exploitation in the arctic were foiled by the sanctions following the invasion of Crimea and the changing oil market with low oil prices.

This is not the story with gas, however. Mr. Tsafos explained: “All the projects we get fussed about, like Nord Stream, Nord Stream 2, pipelines through Ukraine, all of that is gas from the Arctic.”

He then went on to show the development of major new gas fields in Russia for pipeline and ship export. He also explained how vital Arctic development is to the Russian state: “These projects are a matter of necessity. The geological decline of the older gas fields is so stark, that they have to go to the arctic to keep production steady. The move north is a matter of survival for Gazprom and the state.”

Mr. Tsafos’ talk also highlighted an interesting connection between Russia’s plans for arctic development and China. “The LNG development in the far north was financed largely by Chinese money”, Mrs. Tsafos said.

While China invests in the gas fields, the Russian state is also heavily involved by supplying ice breaker ships to the private companies, giving tax brakes and contributing to other investments in the area. They hope that by 2027 the northern route to China will offer year around passage for ships accompanied by ice breakers, which would half the time required for ship exports from Russia to China, he noted.

Nikos Tsafos’ sharp analysis was followed by a lively discussion by all participants, which offered a nice round-up of the first day of the 2021 CIOR Seminar. Although the informal get together after the Seminar was sorely missed, the participants were looking forward to an exciting second day.

Private Drew Olson, an infantryman assigned to 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, rehearses Stryker dismount techniques with his company during exercise Arctic Edge 2018 near Fort Greely, Alaska. Photo: Capt. Richard Packer/US Army.


Successful opening of Mid-Winter Meeting

CIOR today opened its Mid-Winter Meeting (MWM), which normally takes place in Brussels. This time, however, the meeting took place on Zoom. The attendance was “record breaking”.

By: Roy Thorvaldsen, Lt. Col (R), Norwegian Army/ CIOR Public Affairs.

CIOR has excisted for 73 years, working tirelessly for international friendship, peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic area – representing the interests of up to 1,3 million reservists within the NATO alliance and beyond. Twice a year the member associations’ representatives meet on a large scale – during the Summer Congress, rotating between member nations, and the Mid-Winter Meeting, normally taking place at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.

This time, due to Covid-19, the meeting was all virtual – for the first time ever. Nevertheless, more than 70 attendees had tuned in to participate in, or to follow, the deliberations of the CIOR Council, which consists of Heads of Delegations (formally known as Vice Presidents) from its 34 national, reservists’ organisations, supported by other delegation members. Other attendees include subject matter and activity organizing  committee chairmen.

This time, due to Covid-19, the CIOR Mid-Winter Meeting was all virtual – for the first time ever. Photo: Roy Thorvaldsen.

The opening speech of the CIOR President, German Navy Captain Jan Hörman, naturally focused on the special circumstances in which the organisation currently operates. Many reservists in the member associations’ home countries have been actively helping out during the pandemic, be it as border guards assisting the police, as medics – in military or civilian capacities – or otherwise.

Left meeting due to Mobilization

In fact, the UK Head of Delegation had to leave the meeting after the opening remarks, himself been mobilized to aid national relief efforts.

Anniversary Planning

Furthermore, the attention was on CIOR’s 75th anniversary coming up in 2023 – during the next, Estonian presidency. The organisation is one year older than NATO. Founded in 1948 by the reserve officer associations of Belgium, France and the Netherlands, CIOR is a NATO-affiliated, non-political and non-profit umbrella organization of member nations’ national reserve officer associations.

Celebrations should among other key efforts focus on publishing an anniversary book, and on developing an exhibition, to tour member nations’ capitals before being permanently put on display at NATO headquarters or another prominent place, the meeting suggested. To establish an anniversary medal of merit being another, along with a souvenir medal.

Developing key Partnerships

Two major partners of CIOR, NATO’s National Reserve Forces Committee (NRFC) and the Interallied Confederation of Reserve Non-Commissioned Officers (CISOR) presented their view on further developing relationships with CIOR, fostering mutually beneficial partnerships in the interests of both the individual reservists and the member nations’ reserve forces.

NRFC Chairman Michael H. Busse, Rear Admiral German Navy, on NRFC priorities.

– The CIOR president and I have very similar ideas, and I am keen to deepen the cooperation significantly, NRFC Chairman Michael H. Busse, Rear Admiral German Navy, said, during his remarks. – We’re on a path to success together, he said.

– NATO has two important driving factors, resilience and enablement, and all member nations have an increased dependency on reserve forces, Busse said.

Multinational Reserve Network

One project where NRFC has requested CIOR to consider taking over the responsibility for the Multinational Reserve Network (NMRN), iniated by Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation – one of NATO’s two strategic commands.

This initiative “contributes to effective utilisation of Alliance resources, leads to the development of improved reserve capabilities across NATO and promotes the meaningful contributions of national Reserve forces. Additionally, increased collaboration among multiple NATO Members’ Reserve forces further enhances the exchange of best practices/lessons learned and leads to the development of improved reserve capabilities across NATO. The Committee’s Members support this initiative and some of them provide reservists on a voluntary basis to the identified NATO requirements.”

CIOR’s stand on this is that it currently cannot take on such a large commitment alone, and assesses that the initiative is best served with a cooperation between CIOR and NRFC.

”The Arctic: New Area of Conflict?”

It’s soon time for the CIOR Seminar again – which last year proved to be a great success. The exciting theme to be explored is the growing strategic importance of the Arctic. The event is going to be entirely virtual, with no physical attendance – due to Covid-19.

By: Roy Thorvaldsen, Lt.Col. (R) Norwegian Army/CIOR Public Affairs

The seminar will cover strategic and security related questions concerning the Arctic region, like: Who are the stakeholders and what interests do they have in the area? What conflicts could emerge, and how would they impact the rest of the world? How could conflicting interests be resolved?

Photo: US Navy seals on exercise in the Arctic. Photo: US Navy.

The event takes place over three days – starting in the afternoon of Monday, February 22nd and concluding in the evening of Wednesday, February 24th.

– Like last year’s seminar on China’s growing strategic importance, this year’s event on the Arctic should bring about a wide range of perspectives on the evermore important region of the high north, says the Chairman of the CIOR Seminar Committee, Lieutenant Colonel (R) Hans Garrels, Dutch Army.

– We have great speakers, acclaimed experts in their fields. They will both draw the big picture and do a deep dive into all the most relevant issues concerning the Arctic region. Attendees at this event will after the seminar both understand the matter better and be properly ”armed” for future discussions in a field that’s only going to grow in significance.

– We are also very happy that Philippe Welti, a former Swiss-Ambassador and a well-known expert on geopolitical and strategic affairs, will moderate the seminar, says Garrels.


For more information, see the Seminar Section.

Sign up on Eventbrite.


CIOR Seminar 2021 coming up

The 2021 CIOR Seminar under the title “The Arctic” will  take place as a virtual event Monday, Febuary 22nd – Wednesday, February 24th.

It covers strategic and security related questions concerning the Arctic region:

  • History of the Arctic, meaning and strategic relevance
  • Stakeholders and their interests
  • Relevance of conflicts of the Arctics for the rest of the world and possible solutions to it

The tickets include the participation in the 3-day live seminar on Monday (3pm – 7pm), Tuesday (3pm – 7pm) and Wednesday (3pm – 7pm).

Refund policy: Full refund is possible til February 14th; later cancellations are not entitled to a refund.

More details, including on logistics, to follow.

For more information on the CIOR Seminar, go to the Seminar Section.

Sign up on Eventbrite.

Estonian Reserve Officers prepare for Presidency from 2022

The Chief of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF), Major General Martin Herem and the Chairman of the Reserve Officers´ Association, Major (R) Andre Lilleleht, have signed the cooperation agreement that will set down main support lines provided by EDF to the Estonian reserve officers during Estonia´s Presidency term in CIOR from the summer of 2022. 

By Lieutenant Commander Ingrid Mühling, Member of Board, Estonian Reserve Officers’ Association.

Germany took over the CIOR Presidency on the 2nd of October this year from the UK during a part physical, part virtual late Summer Congress in Tallinn, Estonia. The German Presidency term will

last until the summer of 2022.

The German presidential team consists of six officers, Major Lilleleht from Estonia and Lieutenant Colonel (R) Ben Jonckers from Belgium, who is CIOR’s permanent representative at NATO Headquarters, are also associated members of the German team.

– The CIOR Presidency is an opportunity to make international reserve service visible. Working with other countries and presidential teams strengthen cooperation and mutual understanding, Lilleleht said.

– The recent CIOR congresses held in Tallinn have given us confidence that we can carry the burden of presidency after such great powers as the UK and Germany, he added.

Read more about the Estonian Reserve officer association here!

Despite the Coronavirus, the March goes on!

The first distance marching event of the Reserve Sports Association (RESUL) of Finland mobilised more than seven hundred marchers this past summer. Marches were performed not only in Finland but also in other countries around the world.

By 1st Lt. Susanna Takamaa, Finnish Reserve Officer Federation/ CIOR Public Affairs

The Vierdaagse 2020 march in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, was canceled in the spring due to the prevailing corona situation. In different marching groups, both on social media and in groups of friends, alternative events were considered, but organising marches in exceptional circumstances seemed difficult in principle.

March participants walked by themselves, when and how far they wanted – and at their own pace. Photo: Susanna Takamaa.

An army and outdoor store from Finland called Varusteleka organised a long-distance military march in April and this served as a good starting point for the national long-distance marching idea amongst other long-distance marches.

Organised in just four months

Eventually, RESUL carried out a four-day marching event organised in just two months, mainly by volunteers. The Finnish Reserve Officers ‘Association, the Reservists’ Association and the National Defense Guilds Association constituted the ‘background forces’, and the More Movement (“Lisää liikettä” in Finnish) was added as an important partner.

The event was set up to be an easy marching event to take part in, that everyone could attend according to his or her own fitness level. The long-distance march was held during Vierdaages week, and two of the four marching days were scheduled over the weekend so that as many people as possible would be able to participate. Participants could chose whether they’d like to walk for one, more or all of the four days.

Flexibility for participants

The lack of pre-registration provided flexibility for participation, as one could leave for the march even on the last day of the march. The minimum requirement was set at ten kilometers and there were no time limits for completing the march. Everyone was encouraged to join, regardless of military rank – or even without one.

For many marching reservists, the RESUL Four Day March became the marching event of the summer to replace the canceled ‘Vierdaagse’. Similar events were organised all over Europe to uphold the marching spirit of the Nijmegen event.

Surprised by high attendance across the world

The popularity of the RESUL Four Day March eventually surprised the organisers. During the four days, about 750 participants took part in the march, of which as many as a hundred marched abroad, for example in Germany, Switzerland, UK, the United States and Japan.

If much else was different this time, the 2020 marching event was recognisable in at least one way – sore feet! Photo: Susanna Takamaa.



German CIOR Presidency Logo

The declared goal of the two-year German presidency of  #CIOR, which officially commenced on October 2nd, is to increase and underline the resilience and visibility of the reserves. For this purpose, the Presidency has developed a modern logo and thus a distinctive “trademark”.

By: Dr.  Dennis Bürjes, Lieutenant Colonel (R) German Army/Assistant Secretary General CIOR

The designated motto “#Resilience and #Visibility of our #Reserves” as well as the German leadership is symbolically reflected therein. The German national colours are integrated in the design of the escutcheon of the @Reservistenverband der @Bundeswehr (reservist association of the German armed forces) enclosed by an implied “parachute” in the blue of #NATO.

Through the combination of the heraldic shield and “parachute”, the logo symbolically reflects the motif of “resilience”. The ring of grey spheres enclosing the “parachute” stands for the CIOR Council of member associations and its numerous committees, reflecting the holistic community structure of the organisation.

Furthermore, this arrangement in itself ought to be interpreted as a nod to the human “eye” – the universally accepted symbol for “visibility”.

Stronger together

The German presidency is firmly convinced that all national reserve organisations under the CIOR umbrella benefit most when we stand together, outline our common goals, and pursue them as one – instead of each member pursuing narrow national self-interests. Thus, we are committed to furthering this sense of togetherness and community amongst the CIOR members throughout the next two years.

The CIOR Presidency has developed a logo to symbolise German leadership, and resilience and visibility of the Reserves.


Germany takes over CIOR Presidency

Today, 02 Oct 2020, Navy Captain (R) Jan Hörmann – as President – and Major (R) André Roosen as Secretary General – officially assumed the CIOR presidency from the UK during a virtual meeting.

By: Dr.  Dennis Bürjes, Lieutenant Colonel (R) German Army/Assistant Secretary General CIOR

The motto of the German presidency is “Resilience and Visibility of our Reserves”, which the honorary Presidency team – consisting of six other German reserve officers – will implement. They are supported by a Belgian and an Estonian reserve officer.

By taking over the chairmanship, the German Reserve Association is doing its part to make the reserves internationally visible.

Germany will hold the Presidency for the next two years, 2020-2022.

In the upcoming weeks and months, further information about CIOR, its projects and the German presidential team will follow.

– We look forward to the next two years. It will be exciting, said Secretary General André Roosen on the occasion of the handover.

German Presidency of CIOR 2020-2022. Photo: German Reserve Association/Sören Peters.