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.

CIOR Condemns Russian Invasion of Ukraine

”The Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers (CIOR), representing the interests of 1,3 million reservists across the NATO alliance and beyond, condemns, in the strongest possible terms, Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. CIOR deeply respects and admires the spirit ans resilience of the Ukrainian people, and urges Russia to immediately withdraw all of its forces.


Ukraine: Estonian reserve officers raise € 1 154 564

**** UPDATE: As of 11th of March, € 1 154 564 euros have been raised ****

Estonian reserve officers have raised over 700 000 euros to support wounded Ukrainian soldiers and help them get medical care. 

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

The Estonian Reserve Officer Association (EROA) together with Estonia´s oldest private defence initiative, the National Defence Foundation, have raised over 700 000 euros to support Ukrainian soldiers. The money will go towards medical treatment and cures for the wounded, in European hospitals.

– Immediate medical care is crucial to help injured Ukrainian service members and civilians who have suffered from Russian attacks, said Captain Villu Õun, Chairman of EROA.

– Raised funds can help cover hospital costs, but also expenses for prostheses or psychological care if needed. It will help  relieve the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, he added.

EROA acts as a point of contact for those business leaders who want to support Ukraine and fight the aggressor. Priit Uuemaa from Corle OÜ sent four tons of fuel, helmets, fragmentation vests and medical kits to the Ukrainian army.

– It´s better to support Ukrainians today, than fight the enemy at home tomorrow, Uuemaa argued.

Besides medical help, EROA supports procurement and delivery of emergency medical vehicles to Ukraine. Altogether ten emergency vehicles have been sent to Ukraine already. This project was initiated by Estonian Rotary Clubs and supported by various other organisations, including EROA.

There are a number of initiatives to support Ukraine in Estonia: Veterans of the National defence force help to bring Ukrainian refugees to Estonia. They volunteered to accompany refugees during transportation to Estonia, help to solve their problems and identify those who need immediate medical or psychological help.

Estonian reserve officers have vowed to continue fundraising to support Ukraine and facilitate contacts with Ukrainian forces and those who want to help.

Besides medical help, EROA supports procurement and delivery of emergency medical vehicles to Ukraine – like this ambulance.



February 8th: The 2022 CIOR Seminar: ‘North Africa and US-NATO/EU-relations’

Whilst the world is holding its breath for future developments in Ukraine, the rest of the world is not at a stillstand. For instance: North Africa and the Sahel region are trying to come to grips with ongoing political instability, population growth, consequences of climate change, and increasing involvement of China.

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

North Africa is as a matter of speaking on the border of Europe. What are the safety and security implications to our continent of these above-mentioned developments? Will it have an impact on US/NATO-EU relations? And if so, in what way will that effect these relations?

The 2022 CIOR Seminar on February 8th will make an attempt to address these issues in order to get a bit of a better understanding of what is going on – with speakers from the US Africa Command and NATO.

The seminar takes place between 15:30 and 20:00 Central European Time.

Register here!

French troops in Mali. Photo: Finbarr O’Reilly/The New York Times.

Estonian Reserve Officers acknowledged Country’s best active Servicemen  

Towards the end of last year, Estonian reserve officers acknowledged the countrys defence forces’ best service members with the Officer of the Year and Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year awards.  

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

The prizes were awarded to Major Viljar Niinepuu and Sergeant Major Ivo Petjärv. Major Niinepuu has served in the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) since 2004, and has contributed considerably to officers’ education at the Estonian Military Academy; Sergeant Major Petjärv joined EDF in 1999, and has served in numerous international military operations, as well as developed a veterans’ support system.

Photo: Reserve officers Major Seli and Lieutenant Colonel Luman, together with Lieutenant General Herem, giving the award to Sergeant Major Petjärv.

By tradition, the awards were handed out on EDF´s anniversary date in November. Chief of Defence, Lieutenant General Martin Herem, presided over the ceremony, joined by other general and flag officers of EDF.

Reserve officer initiative from 2004

The National Defence Foundation was established in 2004 by reserve officers who are also members of the Chamber of Commerce, to support the country’s defence forces and recognise outstanding servicemen.

– Outstanding role models

Lieutenant Colonel Toomas Luman speaking at the award ceremony.

Lieutenant Colonel Toomas Luman – founder of the National Defence Foundation and chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, said that Major Niinepuu and Sergeant Major Petjärv are both excellent service members and outstanding role models.

– Their exceptional service and continuous desire to learn has inspired both military and civilian colleagues, students and everybody who has worked together with them, Luman said.

All candidates to the reward were nominated by their units, and the winners were selected by a board consisting of some of the country’s most respected officers and NCOs.

The National Defence Foundation is the oldest and largest private initiative to support the military structures of Estonia. Besides recognising the best servicemen, the foundation has donated computers and IT-equipment to EDF, and supported IT- training of service members and volunteers.

This was the 15th time the prizes for best officer and NCO were awarded.

Officer of the year, Major Viljar Neenepuu, receives the award from the Estonian Chief of Defence, Lieutenant General Martin Herem.

The CIOR machinery is working

Towards the end of last year, the current German-led and the incoming Estonian-led Presidency met physically in Kassel, Germany, for a planning meeting. This was yet another example of CIOR keeping wheels turning during these challenging times.

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

Despite restrictions on travel and meetings, it was possible to carry through with the gathering with all key players present: CIOR President Jan Hörmann; President elect Toomas Luman; Secretary General André Roosen; Secretary General elect, André Lilleleth; Head of the CIOR Office, Mathias Krämer; next Assistant Secretary General for Organisation, Mari Uuemaa; and CIOR’s Permanent Representative at the NATO Headquarters, Ben Jonckers.

The topics that were covered included the transfer of responsibility from the German-led to the Estonian-led Presidency during the Summer Congress of 2022 – planned for Athens, Greece – the CIOR legal body situation and the general status of CIOR management at the time of the handover.

From an earlier meeting of CIOR´s next presidential team comprising of Estonian, Belgian, British, Finnish and Swedish reserve officers. Photo by Sqn Ldr Rob Wilkinson, Royal Air Force.

Contingency Plan

There was also a discussion on technical arrangements for the transfer of responsibility for the Presidency in the event of a restricted situation preventing the Summer Congress from taking place as a physical event.

Overall, the gathering in Kassel was considered important for the organisation in a situation where all CIOR-format meetings during the epidemic high tides normally are transferred to the digital domain.

Incoming Secretary General André Lilleleth.

-Will be ready

-It was agreed who is responsible for what, and we will be ready to take over the CIOR flag during SC22 even if the virus should force us to remain in the virtual world for another six months, incoming Secretary General André Lilleleth said.

Past CIOR President Argent awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire

Immediate Past President of CIOR, Colonel (Ret.) Chris Argent, UK Army, has been awarded with the title “Officer of the Order of the British Empire” (OBE). Argent receives the award for his dedicated service to the UK Reserve Forces Association (UKRFA) and his Presidency role within CIOR.

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

File photo: Colonel (Ret.) Chris Argent, UK Army.

– To have been entrusted to be the President of CIOR for two years, together with the management of our national reserves association, has been a great privilege – and now for that to be recognised by Her Majesty The Queen is humbling, Argent said when asked for a comment.

– In accepting this honour I recognise the enormous support I received from my Presidential Team from 2018 to 2020, he continued – and added:

– I very much hope that as we emerge around the globe from the Pandemic, CIOR can move forward and once again demonstrate its support to NATO with relevant outputs, as the representative body of the Reserves Community.

Buckingham Palace

The award was made public in the UK New Years Honours list. It will be presented at Buckingham Palace in due course by either Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth or another senior member of the Royal Family.

Major role

To recieve the award “Officer of the Order of the British Empire” one must have played a major local role in any activity, including people whose work has made them known nationally.

The order

The Order of the British Empire was established by King George V in 1917 to honour those who had served in a non-combative role and expanded the Order to reward contributions to the Arts, Sciences, Charitable work and Public Service. The Order is comprised of five classes across both military and civilian divisions.

The grades are: Knight/Dame Grand Cross (GBE); Knight/Dame Commander (KBE/DBE); Commander (CBE); Officer (OBE); Member (MBE).

(Source: Wikipedia.)


Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

The year 2021 is coming to an end in a few days and it has been another special year, as the Covid-19 pandemic is still present. Moreover, these harsh times are shaping our everyday life, but also our organization and its way of working.

While digitalization has brought solutions and opportunities, it has also brought its challenges. We can stay in touch with each other, but a real face-to-face conversation is still missing. So, while we can ensure the basic work of CIOR, at the same time we are missing the essential and unique aspect of this collaboration.

Nevertheless, I remain optimistic that at least a regular summer congress will take place, as we were used to before the pandemic. Even if we can only make a small contribution to this, it is worth doing. Above all, as reservists, we are twice a citizen and therefore have a specific responsibility.

I wish you and your families all the best for Christmas and a good start into 2022!

Naval Salutes,




Jan Hörmann, President

Reservists deliver agile Airpower during Castle Forge

A hulking C-130J Super Hercules sits on the moonlit tarmac at Larissa Air Base, Greece. A string of human figures emerges from a nearby hangar. Like ants, they make a quick procession into the back of the plane, which is already loaded with aircraft generators, tool carts and other bulky cargo. Moments later, the engines rev and the C-130 is airborne.

By: Capt. Andrew Layton, U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa Public Affairs (edited for CIOR use by Capt. Christina A. Judd, USAF, Media Operations Branch, U.S. European Command Public Affairs)

This flight is part of Castle Forge, a U.S.-led joint, multinational training operation in the Black Sea region. The training event provides a dynamic, joint, partnership-focused environment that affirms U.S. commitment to NATO allies and security in the Black Sea region while increasing partnership capacity alongside Bulgarian, Hellenic, and Romanian air force counterparts.

U.S. Air Force Reserve C-130J Super Hercules pilots assigned to the 815th Airlift Squadron, 403rd Wing, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, fly Airmen and cargo from Greece to Romania on Oct. 18, 2021. The airlift supports Castle Forge’s objective of demonstrating the joint force’s combined ability to respond in times of crisis with a flexible, reassuring presence (U.S. Air force photo by Senior Airman Jessica Blair).

“We provide the agile combat airlift that the fighters require to operate from austere locations,” said U.S. Air Force Reserve Capt. Michael Plash, C-130 pilot, assigned to the 815th Airlift Squadron, 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. “Our aircraft are equipped to carry their personnel, cargo, fuel and support equipment to execute any mission set the fighters demand.”

Reservists demonstrate flexibility, contribute to reassuring presence

Soon, the C-130 will touch down at Borcea AB, Romania, where the personnel and cargo will receive a package of F-15E Strike Eagles from the 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., inbound the next day. The reservists are just one component that demonstrates the joint force’s combined ability to respond in times of crisis with a flexible, reassuring presence.

– Prime example of active duty and reservists working together“The airlift movements associated with Castle Forge are a prime example of our active duty and Reserve teammates working together to get after the mission,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, NATO Allied Air Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander. “Together, we were able to quickly forward-deploy the F-15s and generate combat-credible airpower in two key locations.”

U.S. Air Force Airmen and cargo are transported from Greece to Romania in an Air Force Reserve C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 815th Airlift Squadron, 403rd Wing, Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, Oct. 18, 2021. The airlift supports Castle Forge’s objective of demonstrating the joint force’s combined ability to respond in times of crisis with a flexible, reassuring presence (U.S. Air force photo by Senior Airman Jessica Blair).

Two weeks ago, Plash had no idea he would be in Eastern Europe. By definition, Castle Forge is meant to be carried out at short notice, but when other events in the U.S. European Command theater of operations put a high demand on airlift capability this autumn, planners at U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa turned to the U.S. Air Force Reserve for a solution.“By the time the 403rd Wing received the official notification we were going to Castle Forge, that left us with only two weeks to prepare,” Plash said. “We needed to find Reservists who were capable of participating and then had to coordinate with USAFE, Air Force Reserve Command, the 22nd Air Force, and numerous other agencies to meet the demands of Castle Forge, plus ensure all of our members were properly trained and funded to execute the required tasking.”

Deployed on short notice when neededPlash is a full-time Air Reserve technician with the 815th AS, but many of his teammates are traditional Reservists, serving only one weekend a month and two weeks a year for training. This means that many had to leave civilian employers and families at short notice, with few details about what their mission during Castle Forge would entail.Against all odds, they made it happen. Now, alongside their active-duty counterparts from Ramstein AB’s 37th AS, they are supporting a key initiative that has become central to how the U.S. engages with its NATO allies and regional partners to strengthen interoperability.

Agile Combat Employment (ACE)“Agile Combat Employment, or ACE, is the ability to quickly reposition to austere airfields and quickly generate aircraft and missions, so that we can keep potential adversaries on their toes,” said Lt. Col. Harry Starnes, Castle Forge project officer for the 4th Fighter Wing. “The reason it is important to train with our allies is that we are going to count on them and they are going to count on us to make this happen if we are ever actually called to fight in a conflict.”

U.S. Airmen load cargo onto a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, during operation Castle Forge at Larissa Air Base, Greece, Oct. 15, 2021. Castle Forge is a U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa-led joint, multi-national operation. It provides a dynamic, partnership-focused training environment that raises the U.S. commitment to collective defense in the Black Sea region while enhancing interoperability alongside NATO allies. (U.S. Air force photo by Senior Airman Jessica Blair)

Greece, Romania and Bulgaria

As Castle Forge continues this month at Larissa AB, Greece; Borcea AB, Romania and Graf Ignatievo AB, Bulgaria, the ability to rapidly move personnel and support equipment between these locations will remain a central enabler of the F-15s’ ability to generate airpower anytime, anywhere.Meanwhile, Air Force leaders are recognizing the advantage of total force solutions like the one provided by Plash and teammates at the 815th AS.