Last Day of Summer Congress

The Summer Congress drew to a close Friday morning, with only the military competition award ceremony and gala dinner left of this year’s main CIOR event. The outgoing German-led presidency summed up its achievements, and the incoming Estonian-led international management team presented their plan.

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

During the German tenure, Portugal and North Macedonia became members of CIOR. On German Navy Captain (R) president Jan Hörmann’s watch, CIOR also established a ’Cyber Reserve’ committee, in line with developing threats.

The theme for the German-led presidency was ’Visibility and Resilience’, and on the latter strand of work, the IT infrastructure of CIOR has been updated. During the pandemic, CIOR held its first ever fully virtual meetings, and – as an internal working tool – a digital phone book for the organisation.

Among the main efforts to better the visibility of the confederation, and consequently the visibility of the associated reserves, were major updates to the website content, e.g. the ’CIOR at a glance’ informational section, and the Wikipedia entry on the organisation.

The presidency has also done its bit to better stakeholder relations, and gave an update to the National Reserve Forces Committee (NRFC) head of delegations meeting, and also did a presentation to the NRFC staff officer meetings. In addition, members of the Presidency have lectured at the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany.

Two changes in the general situation

There have been two changes in the general world situation during as many years; first the pandemic and then the Russian war against Ukraine – resulting in the Wilhelmshaven Declaration condemning the Russian aggression in the strongest possible terms.

Among the military highlights was the sailing spring meeting (IBM) on board the German frigate Sachsen-Anhalt in April, where CIOR was even allowed to hoist its flag on board the vessel – the first time that a warship from a NATO country has ” sailed under the CIOR flag”.

The transformation of CIOR as a new legal entity in accordance with current Belgian law, and development of financial guidelines have been two of the biggest challenges.

Readiness and Credibility

The Estonian Presidency’s overarching theme is ’Readiness and Credibility’. Its strategic aim will be:
• Strengthening national defence of Allies by sharing experience of national reserve components;
• Ensuring the provisions of critical services in member nations’ societies through smart cyber defence capabilities;
• Protecting civil society from malign influence and disinformation at the age of digital society through social media or other digital channels.

Ambitious Programme

The cooperation of all CIOR member national associations, committees, and the international presidency team is considered necessary for the success of what is considered a very ambitious program, by a highly motivated and determined team.

To ensure that the CIOR committees are successful, it is considered paramount to staff them properly and give them a clear direction regarding their work.

The Russian War Against Ukraine

The CIOR Summer Congress Symposium “Russian War Against Ukraine” was attended by hundreds of congress participants from over 30 nations in Athens today. The Minister of National Defence of Greece Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos was among the keynote speakers.

By Capt. Christina Judd, U.S. Air Force Reserve/CIOR Public Affairs

The minister thanked the reserve forces for their participation in the annual meeting and for visiting Greece after the long hiatus.

The Minister spoke about the incredible need of reserve forces and emphasized that the Ukrainian reserves are currently fighting for their lives and their country. He said all reservists are uniquely motivated.

“You are called from deep inside and you are driven forward by sense of duty and love as a genuine volunteer force that galvanises us all in order to meet very challenging security issues,” Panagiotopoulos said.

The Ambassador of Ukraine to the Hellenic Republic, Sergil Shutenko, addressed the congress providing an intimate assessment of the current fight going on in Ukraine, noting they are in the 161st day of war. Shutenko credited the west’s swift military and humanitarian aid as a key factor in the fight against Russia’s unprovoked invasion.

“No one wanted this war, other than Russia,” said Shutenko. “No country in the world craves peace more than Ukraine.”

The Deputy Minister of Education of Greece, Angelos Syrigoa, drove home the international and security issues the current war is causing for the world. Syrigoa, a religious affairs professor of international law and foreign policy, discussed the problem of authoritarian leaders in the 21st century and the trickle-down effects their actions cause.

Tobias Gehrke from Egmont Institute said Europe and the west must protect and promote four geoeconomics elements during a time of war. He challenged members of CIOR to deter economic coercion, protect critical capabilities, shape global connectivity and boost emerging capabilities to safeguard sovereignty of nations and maintain rules-based order.

Paula Redondo from NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division gave a case study on analyzing the Russian invasion and its effect on the food and energy crises. Redondo said CIOR is a direct support to NATO, the strongest military alliance in the world.

The symposium was concluded with a case study presented by Major Dawn LeBlanc from CIOMR, the confederation for medical reservists. She and a team of 150 Canadian active and reserve forces provided medical support to Ukrainian refugees in Poland. Poland accepted over three million refugees in less than 60 days after Feb. 24. LeBlanc emphasised the need for roaming care and mental health workers to care for those who had experienced the atrocities of war.

More information about the 2022 Summer Congress in Athens can be found on our social media pages.

#nato #cior #reserves #reservists #visibilityandresilience #defence #defense #military #ciorseminar

Photos by Susanna Takamaa, 1st Lieutenant (R), Finnish Reserve Officers Association/ CIOR Public Affairs and Brig. gen. Erich Cibulka (R), Swiss Armed Forces.

CLA rocks!

Yet another successful CIOR Language Academy (CLA) has been completed, teaching English and French as a second language, emphasising a NATO military lexicon while at the same time providing an orientation towards CIOR.

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

The CLA took place at the Greek School of infrantry in Chalkida prior to the Summer Congress, and was completed on the 29th of July. It was the first courses to be held in two years, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The instructors, qualified reserve officers as well as skilled linguists and teachers, were provided by CIOR member nations and were selected through a competitive process.

The students were NATO reserve officers and active duty officers from Europe, USA and Canada. Through the CLA they have been provided with an essential and indispensable tool to carry out international NATO business – the ability to communicate in one of NATO’s two official languages.

The CLA runs annually for two weeks in a different host nation each time. Previous hosts include Estonia, Poland, Spain, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Moldova, Türkiye and The Republic of North Macedonia.

Students on both the English course (EFL) and French course (FFL) have the opportunity to qualify through the STANAG language examination run by Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) at level 2 and 3. This language qualification is required for careers and deployments within NATO, and is much sought after.

Summer Congress well under way

The Summer Congress opening ceremony took place at the Zappeion Megaron in Athens – a part of the national heritage of the Greek civilisation. Before that, wreaths were laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. By now, the first day and a half of meetings are also completed.

By: Roy Thorvaldsen, Lt. Col (R), Norwegian Army/ CIOR Public Affairs.
Photo: Susanna Takamaa, 1st Lieutenant (R), Finnish Reserve Officers Association/ CIOR Public Affairs.

The congress started with Council- and committee work on Monday morning, and continued into Tuesday. With the CIOR President’s remarks, status on the establishment of CIOR as a Legal Entity under Belgian law, and finances.

There was then an update on CIOR’s cooperation with the National Reserve Forces Committee/NRFC, CIOMR (the organisation for medical reserve officers) and CISOR (the organisation for non-comissioned officers), and a discussion on future presidencies and summer congresses – as well as CIOR’s orientation towards Cyber Defence and the establishment of a Cyber committee.

This was followed by a roundtable on Sweden and Finland becoming full members of CIOR once the countries’ NATO membership applications are accepted by the national assemblies of all the member nations of the Alliance.

Tuesday morning, representatives of all the participating national delegations visited the arena of the Military Competition (MILCOMP).

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All ready for 2022’s CIOR Summer Congress!

The first normal Summer Congress in three years is about to start. In fact, several associated activities have already begun or taken place, with dozens of participants from across the national member associations.

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

The civil-military exercise – CIMEX — started today, Friday 29 July, as a hybrid exercise with both personal attendance and digital participation. Last year’s digital ‘Covid-19 edition’ was a great success.

Thie year’s CIMEX theme: ”How do CIMIC Reservists support resilience in the immediate response to conflict and stabilisation after the conflict?”

The table-top exercise runs until Sunday, when the congress proper is kicked off with an opening ceremony, and wreath laying at the tomb of the unknown soldier.


The working sessions of the congress start Monday morning, and run until Friday lunchtime. In the middle, on Wednesday, the symposium takes place – exploring Russia’s war against Ukraine and among other perspectives looks at the reserves’ potential to strengthen a resilient NATO.

Language academy

The CIOR Language Academy (CLA) started already 18 July, and finishes today, 29 July. It has taken place at the “Velissariou Ioannis” Camp, located next to the port of the city of Chalkida. The CLA teaches English and French as a second language, emphasising a NATO military lexicon while at the same time providing an orientation towards CIOR.

Young reserve officer seminar

The Young Reserve Officer Seminar (YROS) was held in Romania in June. Over 30 participants from seven countries worked on improving their skills in intercultural leadership, diversity challenges in operations, NATO structure and activities, and concepts of human intelligence (HUMINT).

The YROS has three objectives: To improve organisational capability, to contribute to strenghtening collaboration between NATO and partner member states, and – not least – to improve the training of the nations’ young, volunteer reservists.

The YROS also has great emphasis on cultural exchange, buliding networks and devolping friendship across national borders.

Three-day military competition

Over 250 athletes participate in CIOR’s military pentathlon (MILCOMP) each year. Established in 1957, it is an internationally recognised competition, focused on military skills that truly challenge the leadership and physical robustness of reservist members from across the Alliance and its partner nations.

MILCOMP is a team competition, where each member must overcome the challenges together. It takes three-days and consists of pistol and rifle shooting, obstacle course and utility swimming and orienteering, with additional tasks like range estimation, map reading and hand grenade throwing.

The military competition provides company level officers and junior non-commisioned officers (NCOs) with the chance to create, build and strengthen relationships with peers from Allied and partner nations while allowing for individual professional development.

Promoting and enhancing NATO

CIOR contributes directly to NATO goals by promoting and enhancing cooperation and interoperability amongst Reserve Forces within and beyond NATO.

The CIOR Summer Congress Venue, Athenaeum Intercontinental. The congresses of CIOMR (for medical reservists) and CISOR (for non-commissioned officers) take place at the same time and place as CIOR’s main annual event. The latter is a result of a recent CIOR initiative to work in closer collaboration with CISOR.

Time to sign up for CIMEX!

One of the key events during the CIOR Summer Congress is the Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) Exercise, CIMEX. This year’s edition takes place between Friday 29 July and Sunday 31 July, at the InterContinental Athenaeum hotel in Athens.

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

Built on last year’s huge success when the exercise was organised solely with digital attendance, the 2022-edition will be a hybrid version with both face-to-face and virtual participation.

This year’s theme is: “How do CIMIC reservists support resilience in the immediate response to conflict, and stabilisation after the conflict?”

How to sign up

For those interested in attending in person, follow this link to sign up and pay the attendance fee:
For those interested in attending online, contact organiser Major (R) Zoe Stewart, UK Army, on

The objectives:

• Provide an opportunity to build awareness of the
role of the CIMIC Officer in Civil Preparedness (Civil
Emergency Planning)

• Provide an opportunity to act as a CIMIC Officer as
part of a NATO table top exercise simulating NATO

• Provide an opportunity to understand how Civil
Preparedness is implemented across NATO

• Build awareness of the skills required to be a good
CIMIC Officer

The event takes place over 2 1/2 days, and is a NATO approbated, table top exercise.

NATO’s Article 3

NATO’s article 3 on civil preparedness will be applied. The governing principles are: health, government, energy supplies, food and water, communications and transport.

There will be presentations from Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), an introduction to NATO doctrine, case studies, and of course the exercise – which evolves around challenges working in multinational headquarters.

Both ‘technical’ CIMIC skills and cultural experience are important in this line of military work.

Photo: Norwegian soldiers in the Telemark Task Force on a CIMIC mission in Kabul, 2004.

The CIOR/CIOMR/CISOR Summer Congress 2022 will take place in Athens, Greece, 30 July – 5 Aug. The largest annual meeting of CIOR and CIOMR is held in the summer, each year in a different country and organised by a separate member national reservist association. In 2017, the Congress was held in Prague, the Czech Republic; in 2018 in Quebec, Canada; in 2019 and 2020 in Tallinn, Estonia. In 2022, Greece will be hosting the congress in its capital city of Athens and the surrounding areas.

CIOR (Confédération Interalliée des Officiers de Réserve) is the Inter-allied Confederation of Reserve Officers. It consists of reserve officer organisations of NATO member states and other participating nations – 34 in total – representing the interests of around 1.3 million reservists. CIOR is the world’s largest military reserve officers’ organisation.

CIOMR (Confédération Interalliée des Officers Médicaux de Réserve) is the association which brings together medical reservists. It works with the COMEDS committee formed by the Heads of Medical Services of NATO member countries.

CISOR (Confédération Interalliée des Sous-Officiers de Réserve) is the Inter-allied Confederation of Reserve Non-Commissioned Officers. It consists of 14 NATO and affiliate member states. CISOR cooperates formally on various projects with CIOR and CIOMR.

Wreath Laying

The Wreath Laying Ceremony is going to take place at the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a war memorial located in Syntagma Square in Athens, in front of the Old Royal Palace. It is a cenotaph dedicated to the Greek soldiers killed during war. It was sculpted between 1930 and 1932 by sculptor Fokion Rok. The tomb is guarded by the Evzones of the Presidential Guard.

Opening Ceremony

The Opening Ceremony will take place at Zappeion Megaron. The Zappeion Megaron is a part of the national heritage of the Greek civilisation, designed by T. Hansen (1874-1888). Evangelis Zappas, a Greek patriot and benefactor from North Epirus, envisaged the rebirth of the spirit of ancient Greece and devoted his life to the revival of the Olympic Games and the promotion of the Arts. The Zappeion Megaron has been an active part of Greece’s history and that of Hellenism, for the last 130 years. Cultural events of great importance take place within the precinct. The Olympia(d) and Bequests Committee, not only highlights the historical milestones related to the Olympic activities, but also to those related to the cultural identity of Greece in general.

Gala Dinner

The closing Gala Dinner is going the be hosted at the Congress hotel, Athenaeum Intercontinental.

CIOR´s incoming presidential team visits NATO HQ

The Estonian Reserve Officers Association´s team is preparing to take over the CIOR presidency in early August, at the Athens Summer Congress. A part of that is to get familiarised with NATO headquarters.

By: Lieutenant Commander Ingrid Mühling, Estonian Defence Forces/CIOR Public Affairs

The Estonian presidential team is preparing to commence with presidential duties immediately after the congress. Last week, the delegation visited NATO headquarters in Brussels. Together with the CIOR permanent representative to NATO, lieutenant colonel (r) Ben Jonckers (Belgian Army), they met with major general Karl Ford (UK Army), who is the Deputy Director of the International Military Staff (IMS), and major general Indrek Sirel – the Estonian Military Representative to NATO and the EU.

The team introduced CIOR´s strategic programme and the Estonian goals for the forthcoming presidency to the generals, as well as discussed with them about possible co-operation and mutual assistance opportunities.

The Estonian presidential team, led by lieutenant colonel Toomas Luman, presented the first ever CIOR presidential coin to major general Karl Ford.

Sharing of experience

– Estonia is willing to share its experience with regard to reserves, as we are one of few countries in CIOR whose defence relies mostly on the reserve forces. We are especially focusing on cyber- and information warfare units, and consider protection of civil society from malign influence one of our main goals, said major (r) Andre Lilleleht – a member of both the current and the incoming presidential team.

CIOR has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NATO via the National Reserve Forces Council (NRFC). CIOR counsels NATO on matters related to reserve forces.

First meeting since pandemic

It is customary for the CIOR president to meet with the Deputy Director General of the International Military Staff regularly. Due to COVID restrictions, the regular meetings have not taken place over the recent years.

Will foster relations

– Last week´s meeting was a good opportunity to refresh friendly relations in this current, challenging security environment. CIOR has worked in close co-operation with NATO since the very first days, and we are set to keep up the good working relationship, major Lilleleht said.

Wilhelmshaven Declaration on Ukraine

“We demand that the Russian Regime ceases its activities, seen as war crimes, immediately. [Russia] must be, and will be, held accountable for its actions.”

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

A further condemnation of Russia’s warfare in Ukraine, and the involvement of Belarus, came out of the organisation’s spring meeting in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, yesterday. It was, in part, a reaction to shock and disbelief over atrocities committed towards the civilian population in Bucha and other occupied towns over the last few weeks.

The CIOR President had earlier condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on behalf of the Presidency.


Many civilians have been found killed, some with tied hands and head shots. Photo: Vadim Chirdal/AP.

Several hundred people have been found killed as Ukrainian forces have retaken suburbs north of and around Kyiv – some with their hands tied behind their backs and with execution-style gun wounds to their heads. Others were shot off their bikes on the way to the market, or gunned down in their front yard.

The tortured body of a mayor and her family were found buried in the forest, allegedly for being “informants” to the Ukrainian armed forces.

There are many more stories, and the full scale of the horror is yet to be discovered.

Russia has denied involvement in the killings, but forensic experts are currently on the ground collecting evidence and testimonies. Satellite imagery appears to show that many of the dead bodies were lying on the streets for several weeks, from when the area was under control by Russian forces.

Wilhelmshaven Declaration

An official statement, named the Wilhelmshaven Declaration, was approved by Council, CIOR’s highest decision-making body, and signed by the President and Secretary General of CIOR at the end of the meeting.

“We, as CIOR, stand together in solidarity. Our reservists are ready to bear our duty to protect our homelands and the democracies, freedoms, and human rights of the people”, the declaration reads.

In English and French

The declaration, that you can read in its entirety in English here, and in French here, was unanimously agreed to by all CIOR’s Vice Presidents – the heads of all national delegations – present at the meeting, and signed by the President and Secretary General in an official ceremony on the 5th of April. The declaration will now be published in all CIOR’s more than 30 member associations’ nations.

CIOR Secretary General André Roosen and President Jan Hörmann signing the Wilhelmshaven Declaration. Photo: Rob Wilkinson.




German Frigate under CIOR Flag

The CIOR spring meeting, formally named IBM, started with a situation briefing about the war in Ukraine from a Baltic perspective. The venue for the meeting was Wilhelmshaven – Germany’s only deep-water port, and its largest naval base.

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

The spring meeting (IBM = In-Between-Meeting) is meant to ensure continuity between the Mid-Winter Meeting and the Summer Congress, the organisation’s main annual event, and started on Sunday, April 3rd.

A half day initial meeting was followed by transit to the harbour and an overnight tour with the German Navy frigate ”FGS Sachsen-Anhalt” to Hamburg. While on board, there were updates and discussions to prepare the Summer Congress in Athens and the handover of the Presidency from Germany to Estonia.

A frigate under CIOR flag

CIOR was well-received by the commanding officer and crew on board the 125 class frigate, Germany’s newest, and even got to raise its flag while entering the harbour of Hamburg!

CIOR delegates on board the German frigate FGS Sachsen-Anhalt.

Following the disembarkation, there was a cultural event with the Navy Band, and a reception at the Naval Museum.

The meeting was to be continued Tuesday, with a full day’s agenda.

First in-person meeting in two years

This is the first physical meeting of CIOR since the autumn of 2020, when a hybrid (for those that wanted and could travel to attend in person, with virtual attendance for the rest) ”Late Summer Congress” took place in Tallinn, Estonia. It is the first regular meeting since the Mid-Winter Meeting in Brussels more than two years ago.