The CIOR Seminar last week on ‘China, Threat or Opportunity?’ was a great success, judged by statements from participants. Here are some perspectives from the Junior Ranks that took part in this year’s edition of the annual event.
By: Roy Thorvaldsen, Lt Col (R) Norwegian Army/ CIOR Public Affairs
“(The) Conceptual study enables independent thinking and a more objective view and understanding. I’m currently undertaking an MA in Conflict Resolution at King’s College London as it’s far too easy to succumb to military groupthink.
China as the next great threat is the buzz phrase of the moment, especially at NATO events. I found it very refreshing that the CIOR Seminar provided a much more unbiased take on the Chinese threat to global security.
A briefing on the strategic importance of access to deep waters for ballistic submarines was enlightening when assessing the territorial dispute between People’s Republic of China and Taiwan. Dr Yung’s lecture was the highlight for me, analysing not just Chinese defence numbers but the actual distribution and defence capability, which, coupled with China’s intent, led to some very eye opening conclusions.
Has NATO been too quick to label China as a global foe? From the UK perspective, possibly so. However the US is the cornerstone of NATO and as Dr Kirchberger questioned if NATO doesn’t support US interests, how committed would the US be to NATO?
I shall combine this learning with my academic study to continue furthering my awareness and stimulating my thinking.”
Lt Sarah George, 30, United Kingdom, Army
“Overall this seminar has been extremely mind-opening. The fact that there are officers from 13 different countries is huge. I learned a lot about their countries, culture and military side as well.
The seminar was organised very well, all the speakers are very professional and know what they are talking about. The topic is very interesting and learning about China’s culture gives me as a young officer from a small country a bigger picture about what really is going on in the world.
Even though we are a small country we are still affected by China’s actions and the fact that there is also going on a future alliance between China and Russia would affect the Baltic significantly. I have made a lot of new contacts and I would not trade this experience for anything.”
Ensign Valmar Alve, Estonia
– Learned more about perspectives, values, and concerns
“I attended both the MWM and the Seminar for the first time this year. I found the sessions at the Seminar to be extremely valuable. The panelists were uniformly knowledgable, and were able to communicate their expertise to a generalist audience.
The discussion helped me learn more about the perspectives, values, and concerns from allied countries, particularly where vested business interests functionally restrict national policy – such as Huawei’s embedding itself in Europe, and American companies’ need for access to the Chinese market to fund R&D.
Equally, if not more valuable, was the ability to interact with officers from across the Alliance. I look forward to developing these professional relationships over the next several years with CIOR.”
Capt Dr. Aaron Petty, 37, USA, Army
Mix of military and academic thinking
“What sets this seminar apart among CIOR events is the mix of military and academic thinking on strategically relevant topics. Young reserve officers may be more concerned with tactical matters, but this serves as an eye-opener, setting a much wider context for our actions.
It is also an excellent networking opportunity, and I appreciate the fact that some time is reserved for social activities, enabling us to know each other.
Last but not least, the Gustav Stresemann Institute (GSI) is a perfect setting for this recurring event, as it provides comfort and focus, while also being reasonably close to the centre of Bonn.”
2Lt Catalin Florea, Romania
-Gives a 360 degree understanding
“The conference is the perfect opportunity to dive into a current topic. The excellent speakers each elaborate on their own speciality and this allows you as a conference attendee to get a 360 degrees understanding of the topic.
Next, the conference is a perfect opportunity to meet new people from different countries sharing the same interest: being a reserve officer. So if you have the opportunity to attend the conference, I would highly recommend it!”
Lt Desi Van Der Laar, 33, The Netherlands, Air Force
-A great way to learn more about NATO’s strategic concerns
“The CIOR seminar is a great way to learn more about NATO’s strategic concerns. Expert speakers, good workshops and interesting debates. I highly recommend it.”
Lt Reitze Wellen, 34, The Netherlands, Army
Photo gallery by Lt Col Bill Grieve (R), US Army and 2nd Lt Catalin Florea, Romanian Air Force/CIOR Public Affairs