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 President and Secretary General attend Estonia Defence Forces 101st anniversary

(Updated.) The CIOR President Colonel Chris Argent (UK Army Retd) and CIOR Secretary General Colonel Adrian Walton (UK Army) visited Estonia in November to attend the 101st Anniversary of the formation of the Estonian Defense Forces, and to review the 2019 CIOR Summer Congress in Tallinn last August – with Estonian members of the CIOR Joint UK-Estonian Presidency.

On 14 November the President and Secretary General attended a wreath laying with senior Estonian and other national military leaders, and took part in a celebration of the work and achievements of the Estonian National Defence Forces – hosted by Estonia’s Chief of Defence Major General Martin Herrem. In his speech General Herrem reviewed the successful outcomes of the CIOR Summer Congress in Tallinn in August 2019 – a congress which Estonia hosted with great success.

The visit was also an opportunity for the President and Secretary General of CIOR to meet with the Estonian members of the Joint Presidency and review achievements over the last 12 months, as the second year of the two-year Presidency had just started. All agreed that the first year of the Presidency had delivered substantial progress for CIOR, and expressed that they were looking forward to an equally succesful second half of the UK-Estonia Presidency tenure.

The next country that will have the CIOR Presidency is Germany (2020-2022), to be followed by Estonia (2022-2024).

CIOR Presidency members from the UK and Estonia met in Tallinn at the Estonian Defence Forces’ 101st anniversary for a 2019 Summer Congress review. On the photo also Estonian Chief of Defence, Major General Martin Herem (centre).

CIOR leadership visits South Africa

Youth, sportsmanship and friendship were central elements to the recent visit by the president of CIOR, Colonel (R) Chris Argent and the secretary general, Colonel (R) Adrian Walton to the Republic of South Africa. In meetings with senior leaders of both the regular South African National Defence Forces and the Reserve Forces, they discussed current Reserve issues of common interest.

The visit, that took place 22-26 October, came about following an invitation from the South African Reserve Force Council (SARFC), an associate member of CIOR.

The visit coincided with the South African National Defence Forces’ (SANDF) Annual Military Competition, which is run in conjunction with SARFC, and a visit to South Africa by the UK’s Deputy Commander Field Army and senior Army Reservist, Major General Bill O’Leary.

High level meetings

During the course of the visit there were meetings with senior commanders of the South African National Defence Forces, including Chief of the Army Lieutenant General Lindile Yam, Chief of Staff of South African National Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Vusi Masondo, the Chief of Operations, South African Military Health Services, Major General Ford and Chief of Defence Reserves, Major General Roy Andersen.

Potchefstroom South African National Defence Force (SANDF) base, including teams from UK Reserves, Nigeria, People’s Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany and SA regular and Reserve forces.

Major General Andersen chaired a Special Meeting of the South African Defence Reserves Board, which the visitors attended – and at which they presented on a number of Reserve issues.

There were also extensive discussions with the hosts, Major General Keith Mokoape and Brigadier General John Del Monte, chairman and Deputy chairman of SARFC.

Military competition

In addition there was a two-day visit to the SANDF Military Skills Competition at Potchefstroom in which over 250 competitors from South Africa, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Germany, United Kingdom and United States were participating.  This competition closely follows the format of the CIOR Military Competition (MILCOMP) and is run by the Chairman of the CIOR MILCOMP Committee, Lieutenant Colonel Uys van der Westhuijzen.

Competitors from People’s Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and the UK awaiting the start of the 8 km cross country event.

Commenting on the visit, CIOR President Colonel (R) Chris Argent observed:

– Valuable lessons from a valued partner

– I am grateful to the South African National Defence Force and to the South African Reserve Force Council for inviting us and hosting our visit. CIOR has traditionally focussed its activities on the Northern Hemisphere and the military history, and threats that are perceived to affect NATO member countries.

– However, the military experiences and thinking of our colleagues in the Southern Hemisphere offer valuable lessons and input for us in facing the global threats, both in kinetic warfare and cyber – as well as less conventional threats that derive from nationalism, hunger and the ownership of natural resources.

– So this visit is timely to remind us we should take notice and incorporate in our thinking and vision the views of our global partners, as they challenge many of our preconceived and established ideas, the CIOR President said.

CIOR (UK) competitors in the South African National Defence Forces’ (SANDF) Annual Military Competition, the SA equivalent of the CIOR Military Competition (MILCOMP).
From left: Major General (R) Keith Mokoape, Chairman South African Reserve Force Council; Lieutenant General Lindile Yam, Chief of the South African Army; Major General Bill O’Leary, Deputy Commander UK Field Army; Colonel Chris Argent, CIOR President; Brigadier General Gerhard Kamffer, Director South African Army Reserves.

Estonian ‘snap exercise’ for over 800 Reservists

The Estonian government last week decided to invite on short notice 823 armed forces Reservists to an additional training exercise, ‘Okas 2019’. Members of the 61st Combat Service Support Battalion were required to rush to rally points specified in their invites.

TALLINN, Estonia, October 23rd, 2019 (Text & photo: Estonian Defence Forces)

Okas 2019 is a readiness exercise with a purpose to test the chain of command from the decision of the Estonian government to the gathering of Reservists in their units. There is no immediate threat to Estonian security in the scenario.

Members of the 61st Combat Service Support Battalion were required to rush to rally points specified in their invites for last week’s exercise.

The mission of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) is to be ready for different scenarios, including these that are very unlikely to happen. EDF is ready to defend Estonia and is practicing it during exercises.

Efficient and viable deterrent measure

The Estonian national security concept is based on Reserve service that has proved itself to be an efficient and viable deterrent measure. The reason for this kind of peacetime exercises is to maintain and improve rapid reaction capabilities.

Being equipped right is an important part of getting ready to fight! From last week’s Reservist exercise in Estonia.

Snap exercises for Reservists at least once a year

EDF is inviting reservists regularly to different military training exercises on a longer 120-days-notice. Snap exercises have been carried out since 2016 at least once or twice a year.

Almost 80 percent of the Reservists who received the invitation, showed up. Some of them arrived to their units from places all over Europe where they work or study.

– Eighty percent response rate shows motivation to defend country

„The high numbers of reservists who immediately responded to the the call, shows that our Reservists are motivated to defend their country,“ Major General Indrek Sirel, Deputy Chief of Defence said.

For more photos from last week’s snap Reservist exercise in Estonia click here.

CIOR President briefed Military Committee

Brussels, 10 October 2019: The CIOR President, UK Colonel Chris Argent (Retd.) last Monday presented the CIOR Annual Report 2018- 19 to the NATO Military Committee (MC). The report – the first in four years – highlighted the breadth of work being undertaken by CIOR on Reserves Issues.

The report included Cyber, The Young Reserve Officer and Reserves’ ‘Best practice’ and the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the NATO Reserve Forces Committee (NRFC) that agreed closer working ties to further Reserves issues within NATO.

The President reiterated that the primary task of CIOR is to be in support of NATO and in the preparation of Reservists for participation in NATO missions.

Photo, NATO HQ: General view of a NATO Military Committee meeting. CIOR President Colonel Argent (UK Army Retd.) inserted.

NATO’s reserves higher in demand

In his introduction, the Chairman of the MC, Air Chief Marshall Sir Stuart Peach (UK) highlighted the 2012 NATO Framework Policy on Reserves, and noted that most military operations now involved reservists – as regular force numbers have declined and developing niche trades often play into the reservists’ skill set.

Compliments for milestone achievements

Following the report from Colonel Argent, a number of Countries’ MC Representatives asked questions – and compliments were paid to CIOR for its process of transformation now being undertaken, that its future strategic vision was affirmed as presented by the President to the MC, that an MoU with NRFC was achieved, and how CIOR were supporting the development of Reserves across the Alliance.

Supported re-establishment of link to SHAPE

In addition, all speakers endorsed the proposal to re-establish the link between CIOR, the Reserves and the NATO operational headquarters SHAPE [Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe], and to address resource consequences of CIOR’s new level of activity – as well as to maximise CIOR’s effectiveness and Strategic Communications work.

In conclusion the Chairman of the MC, recognising the vital role now played by Reserves within NATO, was keen to see closer relationships with both CIOR and NRFC.


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.

– The Millennial is the Reservist of tomorrow

– In character, Russia and terrorist groups are different, but both want the same thing – from order, through disorder to new order that is more to their advantage. So, who is going to compete on our behalf? Our Reservists. The Millennials.

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

The Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe/ DSACEUR, General Sir James Everard (KCB; CBE, UK Army) speaks eagerly of the need to engage the 25-35 year olds in the Reserves of tomorrow – a generation that has a lot of other interests than serving in the military. He says:

– What do we (think we) know about these men and women? They are butterflies, always looking to the next opportunity; they are technically excellent, but socially less secure than previous generations; they recognise the terrorist threat [but] struggle to see Russia in the same way; they cannot believe we will fight another large-scale ground war, (but accept that counter-insurgent missions and train, advise, assist and accompany missions are possible).

DSACEUR, General Sir James Everard (UK Army) speaks eagerly of the need to engage the 25-35 year olds in the Reserves. Photo: Henry Plimack, Captain US Coast Guard Reserve (Retd.)/CIOMR Public Affairs.

In the opening speech of the CIOR Summer Congress Symposium, which focused on “The Millennial Reserve Officer”, general Everard said of the importance of the age group:

More than two thirds of NATO’s forces are Millennials

– As at 2015 I estimate that 72% of NATO active duty and Reservists are Millennials.

For the 2nd in command of all NATO military operations, Reservists will provide an indispensable and valuable contribution in the efforts to win any 21st century military conflict. And more and more of those Reservists are Millennials.

– Need to convince them of the need to serve

– So, we need to convince them of the need to serve. I think we can explain to these men and women that you can find reference to a new conception of warfare, warfare without battlefield, in Soviet thinking as early as 1953 in which – from a position of military strength – espionage, infiltration, subversion and sabotage – ensure the outcome of a campaign before battle is joined, he says.

CIOR Summer Congress Symposium about “The Millennial Reserve Officer”. Photo: Henry Plimack, Captain US Coast Guard Reserve (Retd.)/CIOMR Public Affairs.

– We can explain that Hybrid Warfare/ New Generation Warfare is just the latest evolution of this approach, part of a wider strategic approach that is not about direct confrontation, but long-term strategic competition.

– We can continue the message on Terrorism. We need to explain that Russia is also building a highly capable conventional force, backed by dual-use missile technologies and nuclear forces. This complementary component of hybrid warfare cannot be overlooked.

– Why complementary? Hard power threatens, intimidates and provides space in which to conduct hybrid warfare in order to influence and limit Alliance decision-making on military responses.

Sales pitch to Millennials

So, what is then the sales pitch to Millennials?

– We have work to do to safeguard our Nations. We need them. The flexibility and variety of Reserve service can counter the reluctance to stay on one job for too long. And Reserve service allows citizens to manage two careers and can add a sense of purpose to their working lives, whilst an increasingly modern personnel structure and retention tools can better offer flexibility and choice, says General Everard.

Photo: Henry Plimack, Captain US Coast Guard Reserve (Retd.)/CIOMR Public Affairs.
DSACEUR’s speech at the symposium clearly engaged the participants from the “Millennial” age group. Foto: Henry Plimack, Captain US Coast Guard Reserve (Retd.)/CIOMR Public Affairs.

DSACEUR speaks warmly about Reserves, CIOR

I like the Reserves. My Father was a Reservist in the UK Territorial Army for 21 years. I also like Reservists because Reservists win wars. Small Regular Armies need reinforcements and regeneration.

With these words, NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR), General Sir James Everard (KCB; CBE, UK Army) opened the CIOR Summer Congress Symposium, which focused on “The Millennial Reserve Officer”. For the 2nd in command of all NATO military operations, Reservists will provide an indispensable and valuable contribution in the efforts to win any 21st century military conflict.

By Roy Thorvaldsen, Lieutenant Colonel (R) Norwegian Army/ CIOR Public Affairs

But it goes a long way back:

– Small armies are often decimated in the early stages of a conflict, with Reservists then used to create the experienced spine of a new, replacement Joint Force, with conscripts providing the mass. It works: 21 of the first 30 Divisions established by the British in 1939 as we raced to build a proper Army were created in this way, General Everard said.

NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR), General Sir James Everard spoke warmly about Reserves and CIOR in his opening remarks at the CIOR Summer Congress Symposium. Photo: Estonian Defence Forces.

– Reservists important to compete with Russian hybrid warfare

– I like Reservists because in Russian thinking, the ratio of non-military and military measures in Hybrid Warfare is 4:1 – with non-military strategic competition coming under the aegis of the military, Everard said.

– It falls to Nations to combat these threats – and this takes engagement with, and the involvement of civil society. This is your world – and my experience is that you are often best placed to explain the threat and the necessity of our response to Government and the Civilian community, he continued.

– Much to learn from Reservists – importance is increasing

– I like Reservists because amongst you are Masters of the dark arts, associated with Emerging & Disruptive Technologies that are now coming of age. Today (21.2 – the second decade of the 21st Century) these capabilities support the rest of the Joint Force. Come 21.4, it will increasingly be the other way around – and we have much to learn from you, the general stressed.

– CIOR plays an important role advocationg and promoting

– I like the Confederation of Reserve Officers, and your role advocating for, and promoting, capabilities and skills of Reserve Officers, not only with strategic events like this – and your Winter Seminar – but also through the Young Reserve Officer Workshops, your Military Skills Competitions, CIMEX and the Language Courses. And all with a focus on that Millennial Generation who directly contribute to our preparedness to compete across the spectrum of conflict.

Close to 600 attendees at the CIOR Summer Congress symposium listened to DSACEUR’s remarks on the increasing role and importance of Reservists in any 21st century military conflict. Photo: Estonian Defence Forces.

Praised cooperation with NRFC

DSACEUR also praised the recent revitalisation of the relationship between the Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers and NATO’s committee on Reserves:

– I must stress the importance of the [cooperation between the] NATO Reserve Forces Committee (NRFC) and this Confederation. Following the 2019 MOU [Memorandum of Understanding], you are well placed to provide united policy advice on Reserve issues to the Military Committee.

– [This advice will be] on – for example – Cyber Defence, Reserve Component Recruiting & Retention, Employer Support and the Future Young Reserve Officer. [This work will] provide the Military Committee, NRFC and our stakeholder nations with a valuable insight into both the Millennial Generation and what comes next, including how we might better engage, recruit and retain Reservists, the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe concluded.

CIOR President Colonel (Retd.) Chris Argent thanking NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR), General Sir James Everard for his opening remarks at the CIOR Symposium. Photo: Estonian Defence Forces.



Germany best nation in military competition

The military skills competition that took place Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week, was yet another success for one of the most tangible outputs of the interallied confederation of reserve officers (CIOR), namely MILCOMP. Athletes from the CIOR member and partner associations competed in a wide range of disciplines, such as shooting, First Aid, Law of Armed Conflict, obstacle course and water obstacle course. The best nation overall was Germany (DEU3). In 2nd place: Finland (FIN2). In 3rd place: Estonia (EST2).

For a Photo Gallery from the competition, and the awards ceremony attended by the Republic of Estonia’s President Her Excellency Ms. Kersti Kaljulaid click HERE!

For results and more photos (EDF), click HERE!

For more about the 2019 MILCOMP, click HERE!

Germany (DEU3) came in as the best nation in the 2019 CIOR military skills competition (MILCOMP). The athletes received their medals from the Republic of Estonias President, her excellency Ms. Kersti Kaljulaid. Photo: Susanna Takamaa, Finnish Reserve Officer Association/ CIOR Public Affairs. (Photo corrected.)


YROW brings young reserve officers together

The Young Reserve Officer Workshop (YROW) is a platform for younger officers to gain knowledge and to build mutual understanding between reserve officers from different NATO and partner nations. Reserve officers usually the age 30 or younger come together every CIOR summer congress to work through different topics and seminars. The workshop takes place during the Summer Congress of CIOR each year.

Topics that the young reserve officers will face throughout their career are explored and debated during the workshop, for example the Law on armed conflict, cultural differences and information warfare.

Among the speakers at this year’s workshop was Lieutenant Colonel (R) K.M. Kjoeller, Danish Army, who gave YROW a lecture on how to tackle information in a rapidly changing news- and social media environment from a military point of view.

Photos by 1st Lt. Susanna Takamaa, Finnish Reserve Officer Association/ CIOR Public Affairs