Winter survival training: First night in the field

First night in the field during last week’s winter warfare course in Sweden. The temparature was minus ten degrees Celsius and it was snowing,  but all students managed to build good shelters and get a good night’s sleep.

Behind the seven-day course is the Swedish Reserve officer association. Reservists from Sweden, Estonia, Norway and the UK participated.

The course was aimed at making participants able to survive outside in the winter – in a warfare context.

Among much else the students learned basic skiing techniques, ice breaking and emergency fire lighting – first in the classroom, and then in practice outside – in rather harsh wintery conditions.

From last week’s winter warfare course in Sweden. First night in the field: minus ten and snowing.

Winter survival Course: How to extract from Water safely

Participants at the introductory winter warfare course in Sweden have learned how to extract themselves from icy water safely – a vital part for survival.

Reservists from Sweden, Estonia, Norway and the UK have for several days been training on surviving in the field. Among much else they have learned emergency fire lighting drills.

The seven-day introductory course, organised by the Swedish Reserve officer association, has highly qualified instructors from Sweden, Norway and Finland.

The course started with basic survival and skiing techniques in the classroom and camp area, then progressed to ice breaking drills and tow nights out under the stars in temperatures around -10C.

– Thanks to The Swedish ROA and the instructors who have made the course so professional, said CIOR Secretary General Adrian Walton, Col. UK Army.

Participants at the introductory winter warfare course in Sweden have learned how to extract from icy water safely.

 

Reservist Winter Warfare Course in Sweden

Camp Ann, Sweden: Reservists from Sweden, Estonia, Norway and the UK have for several days been training on surviving in the field. Among much else they have learned emergency fire lighting drills.

The seven-day introductory course, organised by the Swedish Reserve officer association, has highly qualified instructors from Sweden, Norway and Finland.

The course started with basic survival and skiing techniques in the classroom and camp area, then progressed to ice breaking drills and tow nights out under the stars in temperatures around -10C. 

– Thanks to The Swedish ROA and the instructors who have made the course so professional, said CIOR Secretary General Adrian Walton, Col. UK Army.

Reservists from Sweden, Estonia, Norway and the UK going through emergency fire lighting drills.

Young Reserve Officers attending Seminar: Enables independent Thinking, more objective View and Understanding

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

-Extremely mind-opening

“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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Three: CIOR Seminar Dives Deep

Day three of the CIOR Seminar continued the trend of taking a deeper dive into specific areas of interest in China, with Cyber Strategy, Taiwan and the South China Sea studied further by John Lee, Dr Sarah Kirchberger and Dr Bill Hayton.

By: Lt Sarah George, UK Army and 2nd Lt Catalin Florea, Romanian Air Force, both with background from CIOR’s Young Reserve Officer program.

While the public agenda is dominated by cyber espionage, China’s real ambition in the Information and communications technology (ICT) environment is “to achieve a situation of mutual vulnerability”, believes Mr. John Lee, from the Mercator Institute for China Studies.

As the world sees Chinese digital presence increasing, especially through Huawei and Tik-Tok, the underlying reality remains that the country relies on Western companies, its strategic adversaries, for upstream technologies. It is believed to be ten-fifteen years behind the most advanced Western nations in the manufacturing of semiconductors, and currently imports almost all of the microchips it requires.

It is also dependent on the American university system for the training of its cyber experts and entrepreneurs.

                                                                 “There is no doubt about China’s intention

                                                                           to become a “cyber superpower”

However, there is no doubt about China’s intention to become a “cyber superpower” – a goal stated by president Xi Jinping himself. To this end, China has benefited from acting as a manufacturing hub for Western technology companies. It has also developed strong domestic control of the internet, turning it into a contained network where search queries are resolved locally and at least two million human censors are engaged in content monitoring and filtering.

As it pursues absolute transparency of online actions at home, the Communist Party of China (CPC) also supports stronger Chinese presence in engineering commissions setting new standards and internationally, in the developing markets which will provide the next waves of internet users, believes Mr. Lee.

– Increasingly aggressive posture towards Taiwan

The Taiwanese “are basically incapable of becoming citizens of the PRC”, stated Dr. Sarah Kirchberger, Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University (ISPK), towards the end of a compelling presentation about the China-Taiwan relationship, in the context of an increasingly aggressive Chinese posture.

Dr. Kirchberger pointed out that Taiwan is perceived as a current threat by China on several levels – politically, geostrategically and, more specifically, as a de facto ally of the US. Indeed, holding Taiwan is regarded as the key to China’s development into a seapower, as it provides access to deep waters and a way out of the US friendly islands off the East and South East coast of China.

Therefore, “retaking Taiwan is the PLA’s [People’s Liberation Army, China’s armed forces] primary mission”, believes Dr. Kirchberger. To this end, she commented on the Chinese interest towards the Russian hybrid war in Crimea, frequent military actions and exercises around Taiwan, as well as regular cyber and information attacks on media and public institutions.

As a harbinger of an even more aggressive approach, president Xi Jinping stated that “the Taiwan question” should be solved by 2049, the centenary of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

– Appeasement has rarely worked

For the US, “this is a massive challenge in every sense”, said Dr. Kirchberger, confronting NATO’s focus on Europe and Russia to the interest of the US in preserving the current status of Taiwan. The speaker advocated for a policy of deterrence towards China, rather than appeasement, as “looking at the track record of rising powers wanting to change the status quo, appeasement has rarely worked”.

Dr. Bill Hayton’s subsequent lecture on the South China Sea and Chinese interest in the area was the perfect follow-on from Dr. Kirchberger’s talk on Taiwan.

The strategic Importance of deep sea

The key for both of the talks was the strategic importance of deep sea to create access and then an impregnable bastion for Chinese ballistic missile submarines to manoeuvre within. Looking at an aerial photograph of China, one is immediately struck by the fact that the whole coast has extended continental shelf, which isn’t deep enough for the submarines to operate in. Thus China’s strategy for retaking Taiwan has been complemented with a strategy to reclaim the South China Sea.

Man-made islands

Dr. Hayton explained how the historical claim that China has presented to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is actually based on a series of historical cock-ups by geographers with dotted lines being coloured in to create island claims where there were no islands and mistranslations.

Despite The Philippines having won the PCA award [Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration], China has refused to accept it, despite the fact it is legally binding. Dr. Hayton nevertheless concluded that there are yet grounds for optimism, as the PRC still feels the need to justify its actions in rules based language.

Screenshot from Dr. Bill Hayton’s lecture on the South China Sea

Photo gallery by Lt Col Bill Grieve (R), US Army/ CIOR Public Affairs:

China expert at CIOR Seminar: – Should keep our minds open

The annual CIOR Seminar – titled “China, Threat or Opportunity” – opened on Saturday (22. Feb.) with introductions by former Swiss Ambassador Philippe Welti and Dr. Andreas Wolfrum* on Chinese strategic interests, culture and economy, setting the scene for the rest of the week where the lectures were scheduled to take a deeper dive into more specific questions.

By: Lt Sarah George, UK Army and 2nd Lt Catalin Florea, Romanian Air Force, both with background from CIOR’s Young Reserve Officer program.

Sunday included lectures by Dr. Christopher D. Yung, Dr. Oliver Corff and Dr. Lyle Goldstein.

                                            “We should keep our mind open to the possibility of change 

                                                                                                            in Chinese Foreign Policy.”

                                                                                                                              – Dr. Lyle Goldstein

Dr. Yung opened with a baseline brief on what most China experts agree on: that China has experienced unprecedented economic growth, which has coincided with an increased defence budget: 10% growth for two decades; a constantly modernising military and finally, although it is still a point of debate whether China does indeed pose a threat to US national security, there are definitely contingencies that could involve direct conflict.

Dr. Yung then went on to discuss his own professional take on China and its intent, that it prioritises internal security over defence.

                                              “What keeps Xi Jinping up at night worrying is Xinjiang.”

                                                                                                                                                     – Dr. Yung

What keeps Xi Jinping (Chinese President) up at night worrying is Xinjiang, says Dr. Yung. Xinjiang is an autonomous region in North-Western China. A substantial part of the population are Turkish tribes with Muslim faith. The Uighurs alone constitute 45 per cent of the population in the province, and they have since long felt socially and economically marginalized in China. Human rights activists claim that that Uighurs are subject to religious persecution.

Dr. Lyle Goldstein (left) and Dr. Christopher Yung (right) with Lt Col Hans Garrels (centre), Dutch Army and Chairman of the CIOR Seminar Committee. Photo: Lt (R) Sarah Alexandra George, UK Army.

Stronger, more unified international power

Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign has aided him to consolidate power, placing China in a stronger, more unified position to act internationally.

What China really wants is not a subject universally agreed on, but Dr. Yung argued a very strong case for why China would want the period of strategic opportunity to continue: A peaceful and stable environment is key for a nation that has incredibly ambitious economic growth targets. Unlike Western nations, China doesn’t see a trade spat as equating to increased likelihood of conflict.

Wants to return to regional hegemony

Dr. Yung presented evidence for why China would want to reform the international order, however, returning to regional hegemony in a multipolar world.

As these long term objectives are contrary to US national security interests, he argued that this poses a challenge to the US, especially as China does have, and is further developing, the capability to operate ‘out of area’ in protection of overseas economic and political interests.

He argued that while China does not currently pose a global military threat to the International System, and NATO, the US is a core constituent part of NATO.

“Military-civilian fusion”

The concept of a strong China is tightly related to the “mutual dependence between economic and military strength”, said Dr. Oliver Corff during the CIOR Seminar in Bonn.

Dr. Corff spoke about military-civilian fusion as an important principle of Chinese development plans, connecting civilian areas such as manufacturing to national defence.

He pointed out stability as the most important interest of the Communist Party of China (CPC), as this enables its secure and unchallenged rule.

Territorial Integrity

Another core interest is territorial integrity, fuelled by concerns regarding regions such as Taiwan, Xinjiang and Tibet – and, more recently – Hong Kong and the South China Sea.

Finally, a third core interest would be development in all areas, from military to healthcare, rooted in Leninist historical determinism, said Dr. Corff.

China’s national security framework stands as a manifestation of this approach, as it covers not only military or territorial issues, but also extends to environment, society and culture.

“Asia’s Security Paradox”

Dr. Corff considers that China’s grand strategy is a good match to Asia’s Security Paradox – the fact that strengthening economic ties and interdependencies does not result into commensurate increases in regional security and mutual confidence.

* Dr Andreas Wolfrum works at the Center for Military History and Social Sciences of the Budeswehr, Department of Education, and is himself a Naval Reserve Officer with the rank of Commander. 

Image gallery by 2nd Lt Catalin Florea, Romanian Air Force.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Seminar 2020” launched in Bonn

The CIOR Seminar 2020 opened in Bonn Saturday morning, with over 50 participants from 13 nations.

Among many European countries represented were also Australia, South Africa and the USA. The theme for this year’s Seminar is “China – Threat or Opportunity?”, with a distinguished panel of very high calibre speakers. The audience spans from young reserve officers to CIOR Vice Presidents (heads of national delegations) and military staff specialists.

Have a look at this presentation video!

For more on the 2020 CIOR Seminar, click here!

 

Strong Outputs at Mid-Winter Meeting

The CIOR Mid-Winter Meeting was succesfully completed Friday. As tradition dictates, the two and a half days of intense and very fruitful working sessions were wrapped up with a closing session in the auditorium of the NATO Headquarters.

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

The Presidents of CIOR and CIOMR both thanked the organising staff and their teams for a productive meeting.

Looking back – and moving forward

The CIOR President, Colonel (R) Chris Argent emphasised that he had sensed a feeling of new Energy and Purpose in all of CIOR’s work during the meeting, with the enabling power of technology now in place to support communications, preparation for, and in-between meetings – and distance learning. He also emphasised the range of tasks in which CIOR is now engaged, and encouraged the Vice Presidents (heads of member delegations) to strengthen their national teams.

Argent also summed up the progress that has been done in the last 12 months from the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with NATO’s National Reserve Forces Committee (NRFC); productive outcomes within the CYBER joint work program; and development of a Reserve Advisor post at NATO’s operational headquarters, SHAPE. There has been no such post a SHAPE since the previous one was abolished in 2005.

Strong outputs

Argent said there has been strong outputs with regard to the preparations of the Civil-Military Exercise (CIMEX) and the CIOR Language Academy (CLA) – and what Secretary General, Colonel Adrian Walton called “a really promising Digital Journey with a management tool, development of Virtual Learning and, finally, “a greatly enhanced CIOR website”.

There were strong outputs at the CIOR Mid-Winter Meeting, among other areas within CIMIC. Photo: Bill Grieve, Lt Col (R) US Army/ CIOR Public Affairs.

Summer Congress re-confirmed for Liege

The CIOR President then brought the attention to the remaining activities of the UK Presidency, the next meeting of the organisation, IBM4, at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in Berkshire, UK; and not least the Summer Congress 2020 in Liege, Belgium this August.

Summer Congress 2021 in Athens

Worth mentioning is also that the Summer Congress of 2021 has been decided located to Athens, Greece.

CIOMR endorsement of intranet portal

Finally, CIOMR (medical officers) has voted to embrace a ‘CIOMR Connect’ intranet portal based on the success that CIOR so far has had with the said Facebook ‘Workplace For Business’ collaboration tool. CISOR (non-commissioned officers) is considering doing the same.

The auditorium of the NATO Headquarters was used for both the opening and closing ceremonies. Photo courtesy Henry Plimack, Capt US Coastguard Reserve (Retd.)/ CIOMR Public Affairs.

CIOR Mid-Winter Meeting opened at NATO HQ

The Mid-Winter Meeting (MWM) of CIOR opened this morning at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

By Roy Thorvaldsen, Lt Col Norwegian Army/ CIOR Public Affairs and Major Jean-Francois Lambert, Canadian Armed Forces/ CIOR Public Affairs (Photo).

The two and a half day meeting started with an opening session in the auditorium of the “new” headquarters building at Boulevard Leopold III.

CIOR Secretary General, Colonel Adrian Walton, opened the show before President, Colonel (R) Chris Argent updated the audience on last year’s progress towards the organisation’s goals and objectives.

The annual winter meeting helps shape the second half of the work year prior to the 2020 Summer Congress.

There was also an introductory session in which CIOR and it’s sister organisation CIOMR (for medical reserve officers) presented themselves to each others attendees.

The CIOR Council and the various committees then went to work on their respective programs of work.

CIOR President, Colonel (R) Chris Argent opening the mid-winter meeting in Brussels.
The CIOR President briefing on the progress towards the organisation’s goals and objectives.
CIOMR President, Major (R) Sylvano Ferracani and CIOMR Secretary General, Brigadier General (R) Francois R. Martelet.

CIOR President meets with ACT Chief of Staff

CIOR President Colonel (R) Chris Argent paid an office call on Chief of Staff Allied Command Transformation, Vice Admiral Paul Bennett CB OBE, during the CIOR Presidency’s visit to the NRFC Winter Plenary Meeting in Norfolk Virginia.
Colonel Argent briefed Admiral Bennett on the current developments in CIOR and the refocusing of the Confederation upon defined military outputs in support of NATO.
The Admiral took a keen interest in the range of activities undertaken by CIOR and recognised the important contribution made by Reservists to NATO. It was particularly agreed that the employment of the range of tools now available in Information Technology made it possible to further increase the utility of Reserves, and the President pledged to fully exploit this exciting opportunity.
CIOR President Colonel (R) Chris Argent has met with Chief of Staff Allied Command Transformation, Vice Admiral Paul Bennett.
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