Estonian reserve officers took over CIOR presidency

Estonian Reserve Officers Association took over CIOR presidency from Germany on August 5th in Athens.

By: Ingrid Mühling, Lt Cdr, Estonian Navy/ CIOR Public Affairs.

Lt Col Toomas Luman, new president of CIOR, said in his letter to CIOR committees, that in current security situation many countries pay more attention to reserve forces than years ago. „The post Cold War notion that NATO can be defended only by regular forces, is no longer valid. During our presidency we aim to harmonise NATO and partner countries understanding of the use of reserves and draw the attention of NATO`s Military Committee and Reserve Forces Committee (NRFC) to reserve forces issues. „Estonia´s defence is based on reserve force, we know what it means for a country, for employers and for the military to have a large reserve force“ he added.

Lt Col Luman emphasized that committees role in CIOR development should expand. „Committees are the cornerstone of our organization, they create value and outputs that will be visible to NATO and member nations“ he said. In order to make co-ordination between committees and presidential team smoother, committees have designated team members who help to co-ordinate their activities and solve problems if they occur.

Estonian presidential team comprises of officers from Belgium, Finland, Denmark, UK and Estonia. International members reflect the international nature of CIOR and help create synergy between member countries.

Estonian Reserve Officers Association was established 1997 and joined CIOR two years later. EROA became full member of CIOR after Estonia joined NATO. Estonia co-chaired CIOR presidency during UK´s chairmanship and organized number of CIOR events including Summer Congress 2019 and Late Summer Congress 2020. Next In Between Meeting and Summer Congress 2023 will be held in Helsinki, Finland.

CIOR Permrep handing over the flag from German presidency to Estonian presidency.
From the left: new CIOR President Lt Col Toomas Luman, Estonian Minister of Defence Hanno Pevkur, former CIOR president Capt (Navy) Jan Hörman
The incoming Estonian presidency team.


Last Day of Summer Congress

The Summer Congress drew to a close Friday morning, with only the military competition award ceremony and gala dinner left of this year’s main CIOR event. The outgoing German-led presidency summed up its achievements, and the incoming Estonian-led international management team presented their plan.

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

During the German tenure, Portugal and North Macedonia became members of CIOR. On German Navy Captain (R) president Jan Hörmann’s watch, CIOR also established a ’Cyber Reserve’ committee, in line with developing threats.

The theme for the German-led presidency was ’Visibility and Resilience’, and on the latter strand of work, the IT infrastructure of CIOR has been updated. During the pandemic, CIOR held its first ever fully virtual meetings, and – as an internal working tool – a digital phone book for the organisation.

Among the main efforts to better the visibility of the confederation, and consequently the visibility of the associated reserves, were major updates to the website content, e.g. the ’CIOR at a glance’ informational section, and the Wikipedia entry on the organisation.

The presidency has also done its bit to better stakeholder relations, and gave an update to the National Reserve Forces Committee (NRFC) head of delegations meeting, and also did a presentation to the NRFC staff officer meetings. In addition, members of the Presidency have lectured at the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany.

Two changes in the general situation

There have been two changes in the general world situation during as many years; first the pandemic and then the Russian war against Ukraine – resulting in the Wilhelmshaven Declaration condemning the Russian aggression in the strongest possible terms.

Among the military highlights was the sailing spring meeting (IBM) on board the German frigate Sachsen-Anhalt in April, where CIOR was even allowed to hoist its flag on board the vessel – the first time that a warship from a NATO country has ” sailed under the CIOR flag”.

The transformation of CIOR as a new legal entity in accordance with current Belgian law, and development of financial guidelines have been two of the biggest challenges.

Readiness and Credibility

The Estonian Presidency’s overarching theme is ’Readiness and Credibility’. Its strategic aim will be:
• Strengthening national defence of Allies by sharing experience of national reserve components;
• Ensuring the provisions of critical services in member nations’ societies through smart cyber defence capabilities;
• Protecting civil society from malign influence and disinformation at the age of digital society through social media or other digital channels.

Ambitious Programme

The cooperation of all CIOR member national associations, committees, and the international presidency team is considered necessary for the success of what is considered a very ambitious program, by a highly motivated and determined team.

To ensure that the CIOR committees are successful, it is considered paramount to staff them properly and give them a clear direction regarding their work.

The Russian War Against Ukraine

The CIOR Summer Congress Symposium “Russian War Against Ukraine” was attended by hundreds of congress participants from over 30 nations in Athens today. The Minister of National Defence of Greece Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos was among the keynote speakers.

By Capt. Christina Judd, U.S. Air Force Reserve/CIOR Public Affairs

The minister thanked the reserve forces for their participation in the annual meeting and for visiting Greece after the long hiatus.

The Minister spoke about the incredible need of reserve forces and emphasized that the Ukrainian reserves are currently fighting for their lives and their country. He said all reservists are uniquely motivated.

“You are called from deep inside and you are driven forward by sense of duty and love as a genuine volunteer force that galvanises us all in order to meet very challenging security issues,” Panagiotopoulos said.

The Ambassador of Ukraine to the Hellenic Republic, Sergil Shutenko, addressed the congress providing an intimate assessment of the current fight going on in Ukraine, noting they are in the 161st day of war. Shutenko credited the west’s swift military and humanitarian aid as a key factor in the fight against Russia’s unprovoked invasion.

“No one wanted this war, other than Russia,” said Shutenko. “No country in the world craves peace more than Ukraine.”

The Deputy Minister of Education of Greece, Angelos Syrigoa, drove home the international and security issues the current war is causing for the world. Syrigoa, a religious affairs professor of international law and foreign policy, discussed the problem of authoritarian leaders in the 21st century and the trickle-down effects their actions cause.

Tobias Gehrke from Egmont Institute said Europe and the west must protect and promote four geoeconomics elements during a time of war. He challenged members of CIOR to deter economic coercion, protect critical capabilities, shape global connectivity and boost emerging capabilities to safeguard sovereignty of nations and maintain rules-based order.

Paula Redondo from NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division gave a case study on analyzing the Russian invasion and its effect on the food and energy crises. Redondo said CIOR is a direct support to NATO, the strongest military alliance in the world.

The symposium was concluded with a case study presented by Major Dawn LeBlanc from CIOMR, the confederation for medical reservists. She and a team of 150 Canadian active and reserve forces provided medical support to Ukrainian refugees in Poland. Poland accepted over three million refugees in less than 60 days after Feb. 24. LeBlanc emphasised the need for roaming care and mental health workers to care for those who had experienced the atrocities of war.

More information about the 2022 Summer Congress in Athens can be found on our social media pages.

#nato #cior #reserves #reservists #visibilityandresilience #defence #defense #military #ciorseminar

Photos by Susanna Takamaa, 1st Lieutenant (R), Finnish Reserve Officers Association/ CIOR Public Affairs and Brig. gen. Erich Cibulka (R), Swiss Armed Forces.

CLA rocks!

Yet another successful CIOR Language Academy (CLA) has been completed, teaching English and French as a second language, emphasising a NATO military lexicon while at the same time providing an orientation towards CIOR.

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

The CLA took place at the Greek School of infrantry in Chalkida prior to the Summer Congress, and was completed on the 29th of July. It was the first courses to be held in two years, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The instructors, qualified reserve officers as well as skilled linguists and teachers, were provided by CIOR member nations and were selected through a competitive process.

The students were NATO reserve officers and active duty officers from Europe, USA and Canada. Through the CLA they have been provided with an essential and indispensable tool to carry out international NATO business – the ability to communicate in one of NATO’s two official languages.

The CLA runs annually for two weeks in a different host nation each time. Previous hosts include Estonia, Poland, Spain, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Moldova, Türkiye and The Republic of North Macedonia.

Students on both the English course (EFL) and French course (FFL) have the opportunity to qualify through the STANAG language examination run by Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) at level 2 and 3. This language qualification is required for careers and deployments within NATO, and is much sought after.

Summer Congress well under way

The Summer Congress opening ceremony took place at the Zappeion Megaron in Athens – a part of the national heritage of the Greek civilisation. Before that, wreaths were laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. By now, the first day and a half of meetings are also completed.

By: Roy Thorvaldsen, Lt. Col (R), Norwegian Army/ CIOR Public Affairs.
Photo: Susanna Takamaa, 1st Lieutenant (R), Finnish Reserve Officers Association/ CIOR Public Affairs.

The congress started with Council- and committee work on Monday morning, and continued into Tuesday. With the CIOR President’s remarks, status on the establishment of CIOR as a Legal Entity under Belgian law, and finances.

There was then an update on CIOR’s cooperation with the National Reserve Forces Committee/NRFC, CIOMR (the organisation for medical reserve officers) and CISOR (the organisation for non-comissioned officers), and a discussion on future presidencies and summer congresses – as well as CIOR’s orientation towards Cyber Defence and the establishment of a Cyber committee.

This was followed by a roundtable on Sweden and Finland becoming full members of CIOR once the countries’ NATO membership applications are accepted by the national assemblies of all the member nations of the Alliance.

Tuesday morning, representatives of all the participating national delegations visited the arena of the Military Competition (MILCOMP).

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All ready for 2022’s CIOR Summer Congress!

The first normal Summer Congress in three years is about to start. In fact, several associated activities have already begun or taken place, with dozens of participants from across the national member associations.

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

The civil-military exercise – CIMEX — started today, Friday 29 July, as a hybrid exercise with both personal attendance and digital participation. Last year’s digital ‘Covid-19 edition’ was a great success.

Thie year’s CIMEX theme: ”How do CIMIC Reservists support resilience in the immediate response to conflict and stabilisation after the conflict?”

The table-top exercise runs until Sunday, when the congress proper is kicked off with an opening ceremony, and wreath laying at the tomb of the unknown soldier.


The working sessions of the congress start Monday morning, and run until Friday lunchtime. In the middle, on Wednesday, the symposium takes place – exploring Russia’s war against Ukraine and among other perspectives looks at the reserves’ potential to strengthen a resilient NATO.

Language academy

The CIOR Language Academy (CLA) started already 18 July, and finishes today, 29 July. It has taken place at the “Velissariou Ioannis” Camp, located next to the port of the city of Chalkida. The CLA teaches English and French as a second language, emphasising a NATO military lexicon while at the same time providing an orientation towards CIOR.

Young reserve officer seminar

The Young Reserve Officer Seminar (YROS) was held in Romania in June. Over 30 participants from seven countries worked on improving their skills in intercultural leadership, diversity challenges in operations, NATO structure and activities, and concepts of human intelligence (HUMINT).

The YROS has three objectives: To improve organisational capability, to contribute to strenghtening collaboration between NATO and partner member states, and – not least – to improve the training of the nations’ young, volunteer reservists.

The YROS also has great emphasis on cultural exchange, buliding networks and devolping friendship across national borders.

Three-day military competition

Over 250 athletes participate in CIOR’s military pentathlon (MILCOMP) each year. Established in 1957, it is an internationally recognised competition, focused on military skills that truly challenge the leadership and physical robustness of reservist members from across the Alliance and its partner nations.

MILCOMP is a team competition, where each member must overcome the challenges together. It takes three-days and consists of pistol and rifle shooting, obstacle course and utility swimming and orienteering, with additional tasks like range estimation, map reading and hand grenade throwing.

The military competition provides company level officers and junior non-commisioned officers (NCOs) with the chance to create, build and strengthen relationships with peers from Allied and partner nations while allowing for individual professional development.

Promoting and enhancing NATO

CIOR contributes directly to NATO goals by promoting and enhancing cooperation and interoperability amongst Reserve Forces within and beyond NATO.

The CIOR Summer Congress Venue, Athenaeum Intercontinental. The congresses of CIOMR (for medical reservists) and CISOR (for non-commissioned officers) take place at the same time and place as CIOR’s main annual event. The latter is a result of a recent CIOR initiative to work in closer collaboration with CISOR.

Time to sign up for CIMEX!

One of the key events during the CIOR Summer Congress is the Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) Exercise, CIMEX. This year’s edition takes place between Friday 29 July and Sunday 31 July, at the InterContinental Athenaeum hotel in Athens.

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

Built on last year’s huge success when the exercise was organised solely with digital attendance, the 2022-edition will be a hybrid version with both face-to-face and virtual participation.

This year’s theme is: “How do CIMIC reservists support resilience in the immediate response to conflict, and stabilisation after the conflict?”

How to sign up

For those interested in attending in person, follow this link to sign up and pay the attendance fee:
For those interested in attending online, contact organiser Major (R) Zoe Stewart, UK Army, on

The objectives:

• Provide an opportunity to build awareness of the
role of the CIMIC Officer in Civil Preparedness (Civil
Emergency Planning)

• Provide an opportunity to act as a CIMIC Officer as
part of a NATO table top exercise simulating NATO

• Provide an opportunity to understand how Civil
Preparedness is implemented across NATO

• Build awareness of the skills required to be a good
CIMIC Officer

The event takes place over 2 1/2 days, and is a NATO approbated, table top exercise.

NATO’s Article 3

NATO’s article 3 on civil preparedness will be applied. The governing principles are: health, government, energy supplies, food and water, communications and transport.

There will be presentations from Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), an introduction to NATO doctrine, case studies, and of course the exercise – which evolves around challenges working in multinational headquarters.

Both ‘technical’ CIMIC skills and cultural experience are important in this line of military work.

Photo: Norwegian soldiers in the Telemark Task Force on a CIMIC mission in Kabul, 2004.

The CIOR/CIOMR/CISOR Summer Congress 2022 will take place in Athens, Greece, 30 July – 5 Aug. The largest annual meeting of CIOR and CIOMR is held in the summer, each year in a different country and organised by a separate member national reservist association. In 2017, the Congress was held in Prague, the Czech Republic; in 2018 in Quebec, Canada; in 2019 and 2020 in Tallinn, Estonia. In 2022, Greece will be hosting the congress in its capital city of Athens and the surrounding areas.

CIOR (Confédération Interalliée des Officiers de Réserve) is the Inter-allied Confederation of Reserve Officers. It consists of reserve officer organisations of NATO member states and other participating nations – 34 in total – representing the interests of around 1.3 million reservists. CIOR is the world’s largest military reserve officers’ organisation.

CIOMR (Confédération Interalliée des Officers Médicaux de Réserve) is the association which brings together medical reservists. It works with the COMEDS committee formed by the Heads of Medical Services of NATO member countries.

CISOR (Confédération Interalliée des Sous-Officiers de Réserve) is the Inter-allied Confederation of Reserve Non-Commissioned Officers. It consists of 14 NATO and affiliate member states. CISOR cooperates formally on various projects with CIOR and CIOMR.

Wreath Laying

The Wreath Laying Ceremony is going to take place at the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a war memorial located in Syntagma Square in Athens, in front of the Old Royal Palace. It is a cenotaph dedicated to the Greek soldiers killed during war. It was sculpted between 1930 and 1932 by sculptor Fokion Rok. The tomb is guarded by the Evzones of the Presidential Guard.

Opening Ceremony

The Opening Ceremony will take place at Zappeion Megaron. The Zappeion Megaron is a part of the national heritage of the Greek civilisation, designed by T. Hansen (1874-1888). Evangelis Zappas, a Greek patriot and benefactor from North Epirus, envisaged the rebirth of the spirit of ancient Greece and devoted his life to the revival of the Olympic Games and the promotion of the Arts. The Zappeion Megaron has been an active part of Greece’s history and that of Hellenism, for the last 130 years. Cultural events of great importance take place within the precinct. The Olympia(d) and Bequests Committee, not only highlights the historical milestones related to the Olympic activities, but also to those related to the cultural identity of Greece in general.

Gala Dinner

The closing Gala Dinner is going the be hosted at the Congress hotel, Athenaeum Intercontinental.

Job well done: Digital Summer Congress a Success!

The first 100% digital Summer Congress of CIOR was successfully concluded Sunday, with a lot of compliments from national delegations to the German-led Presidency. The entire agenda was adressed and discussed during the limited two-day timeframe, and all required decisions made by Council.

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

More than 70 delegates and supporting staff were logged on throughout the two-day event, alongside committee chairs and other participants. During the Symposium on Saturday there were actually almost twice as many as this, around 130 people, logged on.


The digital meeting format works well for the CIOR Council. Also on the second day over 70 participants were logged on.

The timetable was well managed, and only a few minutes over the estimated end-time for Council deliberations, President Jan Hörmann, Captain (R) German Navy, could thank heads of delegations for a job well done. Or (Bravo Zulu, normally abbreviated to ”BZ”, an old navy expression signalling thumbs up) as he probably would have preferred to put it.

Efficient and effective

Council meetings in CIOR have a reputation for being quite ”wordy”. Discussions have traditionally been very long. However, this has changed a lot with recent years’ streamlining and efficiency reforms. Digital meetings have contributed further to this change, which most will say is an improvement.

Day 2 of the Council meetings started with committee chairs’ reports to Council. It was an uplifting exercise, and a show of force in agility and adaptability.

Impressive committee work

Screenshot from the CIMIC exercise (CIMEX) presentation by the chairperson, Major (R) Zoe Stewart, UK Army.

Very succesful events have been carried out under the limitations of the Covid-19 pandemic: The CIOR Seminar last February; more recently the Young Reserve Officer Workshop (YROS); and CIOR Language Academy (CLA) that carried out a very impressive Mobile Training Team (MTT) deployment during a difficult period; and, closest to the Summer Congress, the Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) exercise CIMEX and the partly decentralised military skills competition (MILCOMP).

Also the other committees that do not run an external activity, have performed remarkably well during the pandemic: Legal, Defence Attitudes and Security Issues/ DEFSEC, Cyber and Outreach.

The nexy point on the agenda was dedicated to future summer congresses and precidencies.

Future summer congresses

The plan is that Greece will host the 2022 Summer Congress (regular, with physical attendance), followed by Finland in 2023 and Estonia in 2024. With regard to future leadership, less is confirmed – but options are on the table. Firstly, Estonia takes over from Germany in the summer of 2022 and will be in charge for the next two years.

Forward leaning on information technology

CIOR has also become a forward leaning organisation with regard to IT, be it the public website and social media, or intranet and information management. A plan for staying abreast of the developments in this are was dedicated a separate presentation towards the end of the day, as part of the Strategic Foresight updates.

The German-led CIOR Presidency, with the CIOR President, Captain (R) German Navy, Jan Hörmann, front and left.

Virtual Summer Congress kicked off

The first ever fully virtual Summer Congress in CIOR started with an inspirational keynote speech from Rear Admiral Ralf Kuchler, German Navy, to set the tone – before the President moved to more ordinary agenda points like the budget plan for the next fiscal year.

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

Last year’s Summer Congress had been cancelled at the planned venue in Ghent, Belgium, before Estonia offered to hold a ‘Late Summer Congress’ in Tallinn. That one was hybrid, meaning that quite a few delegates and committee chairs were on site, whilst the majority was online – taking part in the discussions via the Internet.

This time, the only people physically in the same room were the current German Presidency, which actually were gathered for the very first time since they took over from the British Presidency last fall. All the other about 70 participants called in via the video tele conference tool that so many of us have been familiarised with over the last year and a half – “Zoom”.

North Macedonia confirmed

The discussion on finances was followed by an update on the enrollments for the Non-Profit Organisation CIOR has moved to be, the new membership of North Macedonia, which later was confirmed by Council, and adjustments to the CIOR constitution/by-laws.

Symposium shared Best Practices

The symposium this time was a 90 minutes embedded event consisting of two lectures:

Wing Commander Graham Banks, Royal Air Force, lectured on Best Practices in use of Reservists during the pandemic. (Photo: Squadron Leader (R) Robin Wilkinson, Royal Air Force.)
  • How various countries have been using their Reserve Forces during the pandemic, and;
  • Sharing ideas about future preparation on Reserves to increase national resilience and readiness

The content of these two lectures will be shared later.

Future Meetings

The day was rounded off with an outlook to future meetings. The first one, the fall IBM (“in-between-meeting”) with Council and committee chairs, will – if possible at all, be held as a physical meeting in Berlin 28-31 October.

The next one after that will be the Mid-Winter Meeting (MWM) at NATO Headquarters some time during the second half of January – and the venue for the spring IBM is planned for Wilhelmshaven on Germany’s North Sea Coast. The latter event is planned for April or May. Finally, Greece has offered to host the Summer Congress of 2022 in Athens, in lieu of this year’s cancellation.

However, before all that, there’s another day left of the virtual Summer Congress 2021.