Late Summer Congress concludes

 

The most challenging circumstances that a CIOR Summer Congress ever faced were overcome with a successful week’s outcomes in Tallinn, Estonia. Delegates from a reduced number of countries attended in person due to the Covid-19 crisis but meetings continued online via apps like Zoom to ensure that exchanges of ideas took place. The success of this was evident on the last day when 53 people logged in as the round-up reports were being given.

By: Sqn Ldr (R) Michael Cairns, Royal Air Force/ CIOR Public Affairs

On site at the Estonian conference base were the Executive Committee, Young Reserve Officer Workshop (YROW) and Reserve Officer Workshop (ROW) participants and those taking part in the Cyber workshop. The Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC), Defence and Security (DefSec), Legal, Seminar, Symposium and YROW committees largely met online. CIMIC reported that 34 members took part in the CIMIC exercise (CIMEX) that dealt with an imaginary widespread flooding incident. Members of the Strategic Communication committee provided Public Affairs support at the congress centre along with host nation photographers.

Both CIOMR, the medical sister body of CIOR, and the non-commissioned officer body CISOR also had small, but valuable presences in Tallinn.

A younger feel

The good turnout by YROW participants gave the Congress a younger feel as they made up a sizeable proportion of those on the ground. And indeed a former YROW and young Lieutenant, Sarah Alexandra George was the face of CIOR at a significant defence conference held in Tallinn during the week, the Annual Baltic Conference on Defence (ABCD).

CIOR partnered with the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS) in Tallinn and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Bonn, Germany to host the conference, which in part focused on reserve policies and experiences across the NATO Alliance.

Praise to Estonia

As the UK Presidency transitions to the German Presidency, outgoing President, Colonel (R) Chris Argent, UK Army, paid tribute to the support he and his team has had from Estonia in hosting so many events in the past two years. Several members of the joint UK-Estonian Presidency team received the CIOR Medal of Merit for their efforts in a simple ceremony in the Council meeting room.

Estonian major (R) André Lilleleth was one of the CIOR Medal of Merit awardees due to his extraordinary efforts during the last two years’ UK-Estonian presidential period. Outgoing CIOR President Chris Argent left. Photo: Roy Thorvaldsen.

Argent said his aim was to encourage refocusing and problem solving in relation to CIOR’s position and relevance to NATO and national governments, and believed progress had been made.

As to the future of physical meetings, Argent said the Covid crisis had shown how compromises were possible and how elements of online working could contribute to cost savings where appropriate –whilst never replacing the need for face-to-face engagement.

Estonian major (R) Ülo Isberg listening to special guest UK Deputy Commander Field Army, Major General Celia Harvey speaking to Council – as the LSC 2020 draws to a close.

Resilience and visibility

Incoming president, German Navy Captain (R) Jan Hörmann said the German Presidency’s focus would be on “Resilience and Visibility of Reserves.” The incoming President said the theme had been chosen prior to the COVID crisis but was now even more relevant to highlight to communities how important reserve citizen soldiers are at times of crisis.

“We want to make our reserves more visible to our communities and to our countries, especially in times like these when we all have to stand up for democracy and freedom.”

While next year’s congress is planned for Athens, Greece, the extent of who will be able to attend will remain unclear for some time to come. But as the Tallinn congress ended, there was no doubt what all of CIOR wanted, and that was to look forward to the time when relationships and exchanges can once again be built face to face. Keep safe!

Limited Numbers but still a Great YROW Experience

This year’s late summer congress was not a normal one due to the Covid-19 crisis, as fewer nations understandably decided to attend in person. Despite this, the organisers of the YROW (Young Reserve Officer Workshop) and ROW (the new Reserve Officer Workshop for the age level above YROW attendees) managed to pull off a great event in which junior officers learned valuable lessons and built cross-Alliance friendships.

By: Sqn Ldr (R) Michael Cairns, Royal Air Force/ CIOR Public Affairs

Officers attending both the YROW and ROW combined to become one group whilst others joined sessions from their home countries online.

Those that travelled to Tallinn included delegates from Austria, Greece, Sweden, the Baltic states and the UK – and they carried on the important CIOR tradition of broadening knowledge of key military issues and learning how best to work with reservists from across NATO.

The cultural learning element of the workshop included a personal tour of the Estonian Parliament and representatives chamber with the former Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas who is now himself a Reserve Lieutenant.

He outlined to the workshop attendees the nature of Estonian democracy, and the concerns the country has in relation to exterior threats. The nation has a deep pride in its identity.

The cultural learning element of the workshop included a personal tour of the Estonian Parliament and representatives chamber with the former Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivass who is now himself a Reserve Lieutenant.

Amongst those attending was Lieutenant Natalie Gardner (34) who reflected on how fortunate she was to become aware of the YROW programme in light of what she will take away from the Congress:

“I really think this programme should be more widely publicised,” said Lt Gardner,” as it allows for great junior officer networking and learning.” “Being able to gather in Estonia’s Freedom Square in uniform with those from other nations was a real highlight. I have no doubt that this is something every young reserve officer should try and come on, and knowing it is there could be an excellent retention tool as an activity you would not get to attend as a civilian.”

An unusual event in which YROW participated was the Annual Baltic Defence Conference (ABCD) enabling them to hear from key defence leaders in Spain, Sweden, the US, the UK and elsewhere about how reservists are being best used during the Pandemic, and on wider aspects of assessing future threats.

YROW participants following the ABCD event online from the Late Summer Congress venue.

 

Getting acces to such an event is not something which comes along easily, so yet another reason to remember Estonia 2020 as a key year in the YRO and RO workshop members’ development.

On top of this, long-time YROW participant, Lieutenant Sarah Alexandra George, UK Army Reserve, was entrusted with the role of moderator in one on the three ABCD sessions – the one dealing with ‘The role of reserves in the foreseeable security environment’.

Lieutenant Sarah Alexandra George, UK Army Reserve, moderating one on the three ABCD sessions.

Late Summer Congress kicked off

The ‘CIOR Late Summer Congress 2020’ was kicked off with an opening ceremony in Tallinn’s ‘Freedom Square’ Sunday afternoon, and Monday morning the Executive Council and various committees started their work.

By: Sqn Ldr (R) Michael Cairns, Royal Air Force/ CIOR Public Affairs

A photo gallery from the opening ceremony can be found here !

Seven national Vice Presidents participated physically in the Council meeting, and 15 participated remotely via the “Zoom” online video conference tool.

The essential work of CIOR as the body which links reservist organisations across NATO has taken a key step forward with the start of a COVID crisis delayed Summer Congress in Tallinn, Estonia.

The COVID crisis has changed the way the world works and CIOR, which advises NATO on reservist issues is no different, with the Congress being a mix of face-to-face and online participation in order to reduce the risk of virus contamination.

Twenty-two countries participated in the opening Executive Committee, 15 of them via digital conferencing and 7 represented in person in the congress meeting room.

CIOR President, Col. Chris Argent of the UK who was amongst those who travelled to Estonia, acknowledged the unique circumstances and paid tribute to the work of those who had made the event possible and stressed that the work had to go on.

“Shutting down completely would have been a serious blow to CIOR with serious consequences,” said Colonel Argent.

“The COVID situation is one we will have to live with for the forseeable future and it is deeply disappointing that I can’t meet you all in person as I regard you all as friends and colleagues. But I want to pay tribute to our Estonian hosts who have put in so much terrific effort to ensure that the Congress could take place and for those of us in Tallinn that we can do so safely,” said Col Argent in his address to the delegates on screen and in the room.

Nations that had sent delgates included, the UK, Spain, Sweden, Albania, Austria, Greece and of course hosts Estonia. Estonia will take over the CIOR Presidency following Germany in 2022.

Also meeting in the Congress hotel were participants in the Young Reserve Officers and Reserve Officers programme in which junior officers get to meet and learn from colleagues around the NATO alliance and to work through exercises to build mutual understanding.

Col Argent said the Executive Committee was looking forward to attending a seminar run by the International Centre for Defence and Security during congress week because of the high calibre of attendees and the opportunity to raise CIOR’s profile with key figures such as Defence and Foreign Ministers from many NATO countries.

One of the three topics at the seminar , titled ABCD 2020, is the role of Reservists – so having the body which represents and reflects reservists from across the Alliance in the room could hardly be more relevant.

“This will be a great opportunity to create a new contact for CIOR,” said the President. “It gives us a unique opportunity to present ourselves and build relationship.”

Estonian armed forces photos from CIOR LSC.

CIMEX started in Tallinn: Sixteen online participants

There’s another first for CIOR, as the 2020 CIOR CIMEX (civil-military cooperation exercise) has 16 online participants from North America and Europe along with 18 in Tallinn. A distinguished panel of speakers are due over the three days, discussing a variety of topics including NATO energy strategy, the HADR (humanitarian aid and disaster relief) mission from a EUCOM (US European Command) perspective and supporting the exercise for the delegates – enabling both virtual and physical attendees to contribute equally.

On Sunday, the CIOR ‘Late Summer Congress’ (LSC) will kick off with the opening ceremony and welcome reception for physical attendees. Many more will join online when the congress meetings start on Monday.

The LSC is organised in lieu of the CIOR Summer Congress in Liege, Belgium, which was scheduled to take place in August but cancelled due to Covid-19.

This year’s CIMEX (civil-military cooperation exercise) has 16 online participants from North America and Europe along with 18 physically present in Tallinn.

Estonian armed forces photos from CIOR LSC.

CIOR partnering with distinguished Defence Institution

In place of the normal Summer Congress Symposium, CIOR is in Tallinn co-sponsoring with the International Centre for Defence & Security its internationally recognised ’Annual Baltic Conference on Defence’. This is a one-day event – this year entitled ”Strengthening Baltic Societal Resilience and Military Defence”.

 – For CIOR this is a prestigious opportunity to co-operate with an important defence institution, says President Argent.

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

The host for the ABCD is the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS) in Tallinn.

After introductions by the President and Prime Minister of Estonia, topics being covered are the COVID-19 Pandemic, NATO in the Baltics, and – in the afternoon – Reserves. The title of the latter is: ”The role of reserves in the current and likely future security environments”. Speakers include senior officers and politicians from Estonia, US, UK, Germany, Spain and Portugal.

From an earlier ABCD conference. Photo: ICDS.

All those who are attending the ’Late Summer Congress’ in Tallinn in person can participate, and virtual facilities will be provided for everyone else who wants to follow the event online.

– All of this is really relevant to CIOR, and frankly the list of speakers is such that we could not hope to rival it, says CIOR President, UK Colonel (Retd.), Chris Argent – who is hoping this might only be the beginning of  fruitful partnership.

– There is definitely a long term possibility of ongoing cooperation with the ICDS, Argent enthusiastically says.

The International Centre for Defence and Security has published a wide range of reports on international peace and security issues , in cooperation with – among others – the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, well known in CIOR through the annual winter Seminar. Photo: ICDS.

Link to the ABCD website, with the current version of the program. The conference is hosted by the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS) in Tallinn.

 

The ’Late Summer Congress’ is confirmed

The CIOR  ’Late Summer Congress’ is confirmed to go ahead as initially planned, in Tallinn, Estonia, from 27 September to 01 October 2020. Due to the COVID-19 situation, the virtual IBM held last July agreed to make a final decision by the third week of August.

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

The congress will have the option to participate remotely via video-link, for those that cannot, or do not want, to travel and be physically present. It is anticipated that a majority of delegates will choose to participate through the virtual facilities.

– It was important to show that CIOR adapts and adjusts in a realistic, military fashion, says outgoing CIOR President, UK Colonel  (Retd.) Chris Argent.

– We have conducted a thorough risk assessment and are reasonably sure that it is possible to hold this congress without exposing attendees unnecessarily to the virus, given standard precautions are followed – social distance and good hand hygiene being the most important ones.

Participants’ accommodations are available at several hotels in Tallinn for the LSC. The main hotel being the Park Inn by Radisson Meriton.

The President and the Secretary General, UK Colonel (Retd.) Adrian Walton, have been on location for a recce this week, and following a loosening of the Estonian National Policy on quarantine for visitors from countries with higher infection rates in consultation with the Estonian hosts, the congress confirmation was posted on CIOR Connect today.

In place of the normal Symposium, CIOR is co-sponsoring with the International Centre for Defence & Security, the Annual Baltic Conference on Defence (ABCD) which is a one-day event entitled ”Strengthening Baltic Societal Resilience and Military Defence” on Wednesday 30 September in Tallinn. Speakers include senior officers and politicians from Estonia, US, UK, Germany, Spain and Portugal, and proceedings will be opened by the President of Estonia.

All those who are attending the ’Late Summer Congress’ in person can participate, and virtual facilities will be provided for everyone else who wants to follow the event online. Contents will include key note speeches on the Security and Defence Implications of COVID-19, NATO’s Deterrence and Defence in the Baltic Region and the Role of Reserves in the current and likely future security environments.

CIOR President, UK Col. (Retd.), Chris Argent.

– For CIOR this is a prestigious opportunity to co-operate with an important defence institution, and we are grateful for the opportunity and the goodwill of the ICDS, says Argent.

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 it is hoped that the CIOR Language Academy (CLA) will take place at a later date.

The ’Late Summer Congress’ is held in lieu of the cancelled Summer Congress in Liege, Belgium, which was scheduled for early August.

The Estonian ’Late Summer Congress’ event page can be found here.

 

– 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

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