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.

Executed

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.

IBM III – last Cyber-only Meeting?

CIOR held its autumn meeting on ‘Teams’ last weekend. With participation from most national member associations, it was business as usual – although many are now very eager to actually see each other again in person.

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

The organisers, the German CIOR Presidency, had planned for the IBM to take place as a gathering in Berlin, but when the calls had to be made, that was deemed just a little too early for the aftermath of the pandemic – and as the meeting took place, Covid-19 cases were actually again on the rise in many of the involved countries.

It is, though, expected that the organisation’s Mid-Winter Meeting (MWM) will take place as a physical meeting at NATO Headquarters at the end of January/beginning of February 2022. That will be the first time the organisation meets in any other than a pure digital format since the hybrid ”Late Summer Congress” in Tallinn, Estonia, in the fall of 2020.

The CIOR MWM 2022 will run in parallell with the NATO Reserve Forces Committee (NRFC) Winter Meeting, and with some, much-desired interaction between the two partnering organisations, during the course of the week.

Some of the participants at the CIOR IBM last weekend. Screenshot by Roy Thorvaldsen/CIOR Public Affairs.

As usual at the IBM, there were updates on financial matters, the next upcoming events and future Summer Congresses and Precidencies. There were also, among other agenda points, reports on reservist courses being offered at the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany, the joint NRFC – CIOR Cyber Working Group, and a re-vitalised cooperation with CIOMR (CIOR’s sister organisation for medics) and CISOR (non-comissioned officers).

CIOR will in 2023 be 75 years as an organisation, and the 2022-2024 Estonian Presidency could tell IBM participants that plans and preparations for the celebratory program were well underway.

Well underway are also preparations for the CIOR Seminar taking place following the February MWM. The upcoming iteration’s theme is security implications concerning developments in North Africa. Possible areas to explore, depending on available speakers: growing population/migration, climate change, influence of China.

The Summer Congress 2022 is planned as a physical event in Athens, Greece, at the end of July/beginning of August. This is the congress that was planned for last summer, which was replaced by a virtual-only event. The CIOR Language Academy (CLA) and Military Competition (MilComp) will also be held in the Greek capital in the summer, in connection with the congress.

IBM succesfully concluded

CIOR wrapped up its first virtual IBM successfully last weekend with discussions on policy revisions and the way forward – to ensure the Confederation remains fit for purpose. More than 50 delegates and other attendees online made this historic conference a success.

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

Never has CIOR organised such a large online meeting, and thanks to meticulous planning, thoughtful organisation and repeated rehearsals, everything went as good as anyone could hope for – both in terms of attendance and technically.

The outgoing British-Estonian Presidency and delegates concluded that this way of organising a meeting could be an example for future IBMs.

Although cyberspace activity is not foreseen to ever fully replace in-person meetings with face-to-face human interaction, the potential for savings in terms of both travel time and money by reducing travel is huge.

The British part of the outgoing joint UK-Estonian CIOR Presidency at the Royal Air Force base Northolt, where they ran the first ever virtual CIOR convention, with more than 50 participants.

CIOR 2030

A vetting of the CIOR constitutional foundation and strategic delivery to ensure continued – and strengthened – relevance, and to agree on an enduring business plan process for the future, was at the core of the meeting’s deliberations.

The outgoing Presidency was praised by several delegates for already having sharpened the focus of CIOR considerably, e.g. by the Romanian delegation (AORR).

“Indeed, during the Joint UK-Estonian Presidency, CIOR has renewed its attitude and ambition by delivering very good products and outputs”, their discussion paper said.

Especially mentioned was the signing of the Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with NATO’s National Reserve Forces Committee (NRFC) and the Interallied confederation of non-commissioned officers (CISOR), the re-establishment of a Reserve Advisor at the NATO operational headquarters SHAPE and the strengthened training – especially with regard to young reserve officers and Cyber.

Now is the time to strengthen CIOR’s “main role of becoming a real advisor to NATO on Reserve Matters” and “a true think-tank on demanding issues regarding Reserve Forces and Reservists, including Cyber”, the AORR paper said, and delegates recognised that this role is a ‘’two way street’’ in which CIOR can play an important role in Strategic Communications from NATO to the civilian community.

This discussion will continue at the planned Late Summer Congress in Tallinn and further into the next two-year period. The strategic review is set to be concluded by 2023.

Ambitious agenda – and projects

More than 50 delegates and other attendees participated in the conference online. Photo: Lars Bak.

Other central points on the ambitious agenda for the IBM, was to ensure momentum is kept for organising a pilot ROW Course for young reserve officers in addition to the present YROW and a plan for a CIOR Language Academy Mobile Training Team (MTT) that CIOR has been asked to deliver by the International Military Staff (IMS) at NATO Headquarters in Brussels – and that is foreseen to cover a long list of countries participating in NATO’s outreach program.

The meeting also discussed the allocation of future presidencies and summer congresses, and further included reports from the various committees – which for the most part have been very active also during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

Late Summer Congress in Tallinn

Council agreed to the plan to hold a Late Summer Congress in Tallinn, Estonia, September 27th – October 1st, unless the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic worsens to the extent this might not be possible. A final “go” or “no go” will be decided upon by August 15th.

The Presidency will facilitate that participants that still do not wish to travel during the present circumstances, or that are under travel restrictions, may participate online.

 

 

 

 

 

Delayed spring meeting in cyberspace

CIOR is this first week of July in the middle of its initial virtual conference involving all member associations. The IBM (”In-Between-Meeting”) scheduled for the spring but temporarily halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, takes place without the delegates physically meeting.

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

CIOR President, UK Army Colonel (Retd.) Chris Argent.

When the Corona-virus attacked in March, it became clear that CIOR needed to regroup and come up with a battle plan – one that did not involve physical presence for its meetings to move the extensive program of work forward.

– It was paramount for me as the leader of a military organisation that CIOR also related to the threat that had occurred in a military fashion, by finding an alternative way forward. To admit defeat, surrender and sit around waiting for things to get better was not an alternative, says CIOR President, UK Army Colonel (Retd.) Chris Argent.

A huge effort has therefore gone into establishing a safe means in which to meet. Building on the success of CIOR Connect, CIOR’s new digital workspace, it was quickly decided that professional video conferencing would provide the key functionality to run a large international meeting like this.

Many of those taking part have already become proficient in using this technology in their civilian careers, but comprehensive guidelines and rehearsals were prepared as well as facilities for Vice Presidents and Committees to be able to ‘chat’ as they would do in sidebar discussions at a normal meeting.

In addition, there was a requirement for precise scheduling to enable members from both Europe and North America to participate, fully allowing for different time zones.

– The Presidency is very happy with the way the first day of the meeting proceeded, Argent said.

The Norwegian delegation listening to CIOR President Chris Argent during his report to the CIOR Council. Photo: Ole Kristian Haagenrud, Communication Manager NROF.

– A success

– Both in technical terms and with regard to attendance, which totalled 44 on the first day, and effectivity of discussions and decisions, this clearly is a success, he stressed.

Argent believes the experience has shown that virtual meetings could replace some of the annual physical meetings, most typically the IBMs, due to huge savings in time and travel costs for the 34 member national associations. However, one of the key principles of CIOR is learning about other nations’ ways of working, and much work is done outside the formal sessions, so physical meetings are vital for success.

– This is up to the CIOR Council to decide, but we believe it has merit to meet in this way some of the times. It’s not a matter of either or, but with the help of modern technology to find an ”ideal” combination of virtual meetings and face-to-face human interaction, Argent points out.

Late Summer Congress

The first day of the IBM, among other important business, discussed the plans for holding a ”Late Summer Congress”, in lieu of the cancelled congress in Liege, Belgium.

Estonia has offered to host the Late Summer Congress in Tallinn, as they also did for the 2019 Summer Congress.

Details are to be agreed upon by the CIOR Council, but the proposal is to hold a congress as normal as possible. However, in respecting the health advice for social distance and large gatherings, and adjusting for what is practically possible on short notice during this situation, the Congress will be held without the traditional military competition (MILCOMP) – and also without the CIOR Language Academy – which will be busy fulfilling an operational task for the NATO International Military Staff (IMS). The mid-week Symposium of the Congress would be a scaled down version, according to the suggestion.

Call for nominations

Another matter of high importance discussed during the first day was the successful completion of job specifications for the newly re-established Reserve Advisor at NATO’s operational strategic headquarters, SHAPE – and the Presidency’s call for member nations to nominate candidates for the post.

The second day of the IBM continues with discussions on strategy and future presidencies, and the new ROW course for young reserve officers. The meeting will conclude Saturday noon.

 

 

 

IBM3 wraps up in Edinburgh

The CIOR autumn meeting (In-Between-Meeting/IBM) wrapped up Wednesday 27 November, after two and a half days of discussing on-going business. The final day of the meeting consisted mainly of progress reports from various CIOR committees.

By: Lt Col Roy Thorvaldsen, Norwegian Army, Chairman CIOR Public Affairs Committee

The committees that presented their status reports on Wednesday were the Language Academy Committee, the Young Reserve Officer Committee, the Military Competition Committee and the Public Affairs Committee.

The latter presented the first version of the organisation’s new Communication Plan.

This was followed by an update on the next CIOR event, the Mid-Winter-Meeting (MWM), which takes place at NATO HQ the 3rd week of February – before the President brought it all to conclusion with the ‘Summary of meeting outcomes’.

NATO Reserve Forces Committee

On Tuesday the Secretary General of the NATO Reserve Forces Committee (NRFC) Col Grzegorz Krawczyk visited, along with the 1st Assistent Secretary General Lt Col Zenon Walinski, to give an update on NRFC’s on-going business.

From the Tuesday NRFC status update to the CIOR Council in Edinburgh.

CIOR and NRFC now work more closely together than they have done for several years. Key to this reinvigorated  relationship is the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two parties, signed at the last MWM at NATO HQ.

NRFC Secretary General, Colonel Grzegorz Krawczyk (number 3 from right), engaged in discussion with the US CIOR Vice President/Head of delegation, Brigadier General Michael J. Silva (far left).
Good tone: CIOR President Colonel Chris Argent (Retd) conversing informally with NRFC Secretary General Colonel Grzegorz Krawczyk and 1st Asst SecGen Lt Colonel Zenon Walinski.

Other key issues discussed Tuesday included the possible establishment of a Reserves cell at NATO’s operational headquarters, Supreme Headquarteres Allied Powers Europe/SHAPE with liaison to CIOR; Cyber; Legal structure & review of constitution (for MWM 2020); ‘CIOR 2025’; the ‘Future Young Reserve Officer’ project; the new CIOR ‘Workplace’ collaboration portal CIOR Connect; development of an online learning program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn CIOR meeting opens in Edinburgh

The autumn meeting of CIOR – also called the “in-between-meeting” opened in Edinburgh 25 November. For two days the CIOR national associations’ delegations were set to discuss their on-going business.

By: Lt Col Roy Thorvaldsen, Norwegian Army, Chairman CIOR Public Affairs Committee

The day started with the President of CIOR, Colonel Chris Argent (retd.) giving his report to the CIOR Council, consisting of heads of member associations’ delegations – also called Vice Presidents.

The President’s report focussed on the CIOR Annual Report that he recently briefed to the NATO Military Committe in Brussels, other high level meetings at both NATO and national level, and the status of key CIOR efforts and achievements.

Autumn CIOR meeting 2019 opens in Edinburgh.

The meeting took place in the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, one of the world’s oldest medical institutions. It was  founded in 1505 after receiving a Royal Seal of Cause from the town council which was ratified by King James IV 1506. It provides education and assessment for medical students, surgical trainees and consultants and supports research to advance standards of care for the future.

CIOR Secretary General Adrian Walton (Col retd.) speaking during the opening session. Next to him, CIOR President Chris Argent (Col retd.)

CIOR’s In-Between-Meetings (IBMs) take place between the Summer Congresses (SC) and the Mid-Winter Meetings (MWM) every year, once in the autumn and once in the spring, and are designated to be focussed work-meetings, to “keep the wheels turning” between the SCs and MWMs.

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, one of the world’s oldest medical institutions – founded in 1505.

CIOR – UKRFA Summit on Norfolk Broads, East Anglia

CIOR President, UK Col Chris Argent (Retd.), the President designate, German Navy Captain Jan Hormann (R) and President of the UKRFA, Major General Greg Smith.

The CIOR President, UK Colonel Chris Argent (Retd.) and president designate German Navy Captain Jan Hormann (R) this week met with the President of the United Kingdom Reserve Forces Association/UKRFA, Major General Greg Smith. The summit took place on the Norfolk Broads in East Anglia, UK.

The topics discussed included CIOR both in the UK presidential term and in the upcoming German one, to ensure a smooth transfer from one presidency to the next.

The conversation also included the continuation of the various strategic developments of the confederation, the CIOR President’s upcoming presentation to the NATO Military Committee in Brussels on 7 October and the forthcoming autumn meeting (IBM) in Edinburgh, Scotland 24 to 27 November.

Senior UK Army Reservist visits Estonian Exercise

Tallinn 9 May 2019: Major General Bill O’Leary from the UK (UK Deputy Commander Field Army and senior UK Army Reservist) yesterday visited Estonian Defence League (EDL) troops taking part in the  annual live exercise “Spring Storm”. EDL is a voluntary defence organization in defence of the Republic of Estonia, and augments the country’s armed forces. (Click here for more about EDL.)

Major General Bill O’Leary from the UK (UK Deputy Commander Field Army and senior UK Army Reservist) yesterday visited Estonian Defence League troops (EDL) taking part in the annual live exercise “Spring Storm”.

The Spring Storm exercise has some 7,500 troops from 10 NATO countries taking part.

Major General O’Leary also met with many of the national delegates at the spring meeting of the NATO-affiliated Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers (CIOR).

The spring and fall meetings serve the purpose of keeping the various workstrands of the organization going in-between the main annual meetings – hence the internal “go-by name”: In-Between-Meeting (IBM).

The main annual meetings of CIOR are the Summer Congress (SC) and the Mid-Winter Meeting (MWM). The SC rotates between the member countries, whilst the MWM always takes place at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

The Estonian capital city of Tallinn will also host this year’s Summer Congress of CIOR.

CIOR Delegates visit Estonian Battlefield Exercise

Tallinn 9 May 2019: CIOR delegates yesterday visited Exercise “Spring Storm” in Estonia. A part of the exercise was a battlefield first aid scenario after an artillery unit was hit by counter battery fire.

The delegates witnessed an artillery battery deployed in the field and undergoing realistic training scenarios during the field-training phase of the exercise.

CIOR delegates visiting Exercise Spring Storm in Estonia. A part of the exercise was a battlefield first aid scenario after an artillery unit was hit by counter battery fire.

The Spring Storm exercise has some 7,500 troops from 10 NATO countries taking part.

CIOR visit to exercise and shooting range covered by…

  • Estonian national TV news (about 7 minutes in). Click here.
  • Estonian Defence Forces newsroom. Click here.
  • Video also available on YouTube. Click here.
  • EDF ‘SoldierMagazine’ Facebook page. Click here)
  • EDF online ‘picture room’. Click here.

CIOR Spring Meeting

The visit took place in conjunction with the spring meeting of the NATO-affiliated Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers (CIOR). The meeting serves the purpose of keeping the various workstrands of the organization going in-between the main annual meetings – hence the internal “go-by name”: In-Between-Meeting (IBM).

Tallinn will also host this year’s Summer Congress of CIOR.

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