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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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!

 

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.

Romanian Reserve Officer Association awarded by President of Romania

The Romanian Reserve Officers Association (AORR) has been awarded by the President of Romania with the Memorial Medal “Centenary of the War for National Unity”.

The Romanian Reserve Officers Association (AORR) was recently awarded the Memorial Medal “Centenary of the War for National Unity” by the President of Romania, HE Klaus Johannis, at the Cotroceni Palace. AORR was represented by its president, Lt. Gen. (R) dr. Virgil Bălăceanu, the current Secretary Geeneral, Brig. Gen. (R) Iulian Burticioiu and the former, Maj. Gen. (R) dr. Dan Grecu.

The event brought together several military and civilian institutions, supporters of the Romanian military tradition, which all received recognition for their merits.

– The gratitude of the State of Romania

– By awarding the medals “Centenary of the War for National Unity” I wish to express the gratitude of the State of Romania for the sacrifice enacted by the generation of the Great Union on the battlefield of the War for National Unity, stated the Romanian President in his speech.

Major project

One of the major projects of AORR, in the year of the Centenary of the Great Union (2018), was the development of the Mobile Expo-Memorial Complex

“Glory to the Romanian Soldier” is dedicated to those heroes who sacrificed themselves in World War I. Being materialised as an impressive structure, the Expo-Memorial complex serves as historic testimony, heroes memorial, homage to the Romanian Armed Forces and public history lesson.

The monument was inaugurated on November 30th, 2018 in the city of Alba Iulia and it measures 23 meters in height, same as the Monument of the National Union, unveiled at the same historic place and time. This ambitious project wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Ministry of Culture and National Identity, as well as the European Association “Dimitrie Cantemir”.

An active player at the intersection of military life and society

At the same time, AORR has been an active player at the intersection of the military life and society, involved in several actions, including: a Workshop concerning National Defense readjustment, in cooperation with the Romanian Defence Staff and the National Defense University “Carol I”; a Public Debate in partnership with the Committee for Defence, Public Order and National Security from the Chamber of Deputies, regarding the status of the Romanian Armed Forces and the necessity of developing Reserve Forces/Territorial Forces; active involvement in the program for the recruitment and training of voluntary reservists.

International Eexperts’ conference

The most recent large-scale project of AORR was the International Experts’ Conference SECDEF19, in partnership with the Military Technical Academy “Ferdinand I”, the Romanian Business Association of the Military Technique Manufacturers – PATROMIL and academic institutions from Poland.

At the Cotroceni Palace, the Romanian Reserve Officers Association (AORR) was recently awarded the Memorial Medal “Centenary of the War for National Unity” by the President of Romania, HE Klaus Johannis. AORR was represented by its president, Lt. Gen. (R) dr. Virgil Bălăceanu, the current Secretary Geeneral, Brig. Gen. (R) Iulian Burticioiu and the former, Maj. Gen. (R) dr. Dan Grecu.

Link to Romanian Reserve Officer Association with a video of the above event at the bottom of the page here.

From the construction of the monument “Glory to the Romanian Soldier”.

The monument “Glory to the Romanian Soldier”.
From the construction of the monument “Glory to the Romanian Soldier”.

 Link to Romanian Reserve Officer Association with a video of the above event at the bottom of the page here.

Spanish Reserve Association with Parliament seminar on NATO Reserves

Spain’s Reserve Forces Association FORE (Federación de Organizaciones de Reservistas de España) recently held a seminar in the Parliament in Madrid, on NATO’s Reserve Forces. The seminar was well attended by members of Parliament – amongst whom a substantial number are either serving or past members of Spain’s Armed Forces – and by the responsible people for the Reserve management of the Ministry of Defense and the Army.

The proceedings were opened by Pedro Argüelles Salaverría, a former member of the Spanish and European parliaments, former Vice Minister of Defense and President of the Asociación Atlántica Espanola. He stressed the ongoing need for Reservists.

Key-note speaker from NATO HQ

essing NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, Ms. Carmen Romero, referring a question to CIOR President Colonel (Retd.) Chris Argent, UK Army during the Q&A session.

The key-note speaker was Ms. Carmen Romero, NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, who gave a broad overview of current key issues in NATO. She briefed on the wide range of current threats to peace and security in the Alliance’s area of interest, and the challenges that come with emerging technologies falling into the “wrong hands”.

Ms Romero stressed that whilst there were, as always, tensions within the Alliance, all member nations agree that NATO is ’’better together’’ and remains a bulwark for peace in the free world.

Case studies

Four reservists, Florentien Braat from the Netherlands, John Carolan-Cullion from the UK, Ronny Vossen from Denmark and Francisco Muñoyerro from Spain then presented their own experiences on operational tours in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Afghanistan and Turkey – covering a wide spectrum of military skills and environments.

CIOR President, Colonel (Retd) Chris Argent UK Army addressing the seminar attendees.

 

ARRC with good Reservist experiences

Brigadier General Melchor Marin Elvira reported on the increasing role for Reservists both in training and on operations within the General Staff of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) of NATO, and spoke positively of his experiences with Reservists as a valuable component in the Headquarters.

CIOR President in Q&A session

The Seminar concluded with a Question and Answer Session chaired by Luis Placencia, FORE President, which was joined by Colonel Chris Argent, President of CIOR, who in turn spoke of his own experiences over many years as a Reserve Infantry Officer in the UK Army.

Speakers and panelists at the Reserve Seminar in the Spanish Parliament, including CIOR President Colonel (UK Army Retd) Chris Argent to the far left.
Group photo with participating speakers and panelists at the Reserve Seminar in the Spanish Parliament.

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 – 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.

CIOR Language Academy precursor to Summer Congress

The CIOR Summer Congress takes place 4-10 August in Tallinn, Estonia. The forerunner has been the CIOR Language Academy (CLA). The CLA held classes in French and English from July 20 to August 4, at the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences in Tallinn.

Photo by: MajorJean-François Lambert​, CIOR Public Affairs Committee, Canadian Armed Forces.

The CIOR Language Academy (CLA) teaches English and French as a second language, emphasizing a NATO military lexicon while at the same time providing an orientation to CIOR. The instructors, qualified reserve officers as well as skilled linguists and teachers, are provided by CIOR member nations and are selected through a competitive process.

The students are NATO reserve officers and active duty officers of the new democracies of Eastern and Central Europe. Through the Language Academy, they are provided an essential and indispensable tool to carry out international NATO business – the ability to communicate in one of NATO’s two official languages. Established in 2000, CLA was a CIOR initiative in support of the Partnership for Peace program and has matriculated more than 300 officers from every nation of Eastern and Central Europe.

Photo by: MajorJean-François Lambert​, CIOR Public Affairs Committee, Canadian Armed Forces.

CIOR Language Academy is open to Reserve Officers or Active Officers below 60 years of age. NCOs, civilians with military affiliations and Retired Officers will have lower priority according to availability.

For more about CLA, click here.

CIOR President attends NRFC Summer Plenary: Warm reception and praise for MOU implementation

CIOR President Colonel (R) Chris Argent (UK) attended the National Reserve Forces Committee (NRFC) Summer Plenary Meeting in Warsaw on 10 and 11 July. The President was warmly welcomed as a ‘special guest’.

Brussels, 11 July 2019: The Chairman of NATO’s National Reserve Forces Committee (NRFC), Brigadier General Robert Glab (Poland), introduced Colonel Argent to his colleagues as a ‘special guest’ to the meeting. He spoke warmly of the work done by the President in ensuring that the new NRFC-CIOR Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was completed and signed at the CIOR ‘Mid Winter Meeting’ in Brussels in January this year.

CIOR President Colonel (R) Chris Argent (left) and National Reserve Forces Committee (NRFC) Brigadier General Robert Glab signing the MOU between the two organizations in January this year. Photo: NATO HQ.

The President was accompanied to the meeting by CIOR Assistant Secretary General (SO1 Plans), Lieutenant Colonel Mark Coburn (UK).

Progress on first common project

On the morning of 11 July Colonel Argent informed NRFC on progress already achieved to operationalise the MOU, in particular in launching the NRFC/ CIOR Joint Project on Cyber Defence.

The first outputs from this work will be published around the time of the CIOR Summer Congress in Tallinn Estonia between 4 and 9 August. Then CIOR will progress with the development of an entry-level practitioners course on Cyber Defence, with the aim of holding the first course in the summer of 2020 – under the patronage of a joint NRFC-CIOR committee.

Two more projects awaiting CIOR Council support

The two additional projects, Recruiting & Retention and Employer Support, are already being progressed in CIOR and now await the early decision of CIOR’s Council to provide technological support – which can then be accessed both by NRFC and CIOR, and potentially third parties.

The CIOR President also informed NRFC about upcoming events commencing with the organization’s Summer Congress in August, with an estimated attendance of some 550 serving Reservists.

The two reserve organizations have agreed that a CIOR Liaison Officer (ASG Plans) should attend the NRFC Staff Officers Meeting in October, in Budapest, along with the lead of the CIOR Cyber Defence Working Group, and that a CIOR Delegation of about 10 officers will attend the NRFC Winter Plenary Meeting being held in 2020 in Norfolk, Virginia (USA).

An invitation is being extended to the Chairman and Secretary General of NRFC to attend the CIOR autumn meeting, also known as the ‘In-Between-Meeting’ in Edinburgh in November.

Looking forward to further co-operation

Both the NRFC chairman and the CIOR president recognised these 2 days as an important milestone in delivering the intent of the MOU, and said that they were looking forward to further close co-operation as the various strands of work develop.

CIOR Delegates visit Estonian Battlefield Exercise

Tallinn 9 May 2019: CIOR delegates yesterday visited Exercise “Spring Storm” in Estonia. A part of the exercise was a battlefield first aid scenario after an artillery unit was hit by counter battery fire.

The delegates witnessed an artillery battery deployed in the field and undergoing realistic training scenarios during the field-training phase of the exercise.

CIOR delegates visiting Exercise Spring Storm in Estonia. A part of the exercise was a battlefield first aid scenario after an artillery unit was hit by counter battery fire.

The Spring Storm exercise has some 7,500 troops from 10 NATO countries taking part.

CIOR visit to exercise and shooting range covered by…

  • Estonian national TV news (about 7 minutes in). Click here.
  • Estonian Defence Forces newsroom. Click here.
  • Video also available on YouTube. Click here.
  • EDF ‘SoldierMagazine’ Facebook page. Click here)
  • EDF online ‘picture room’. Click here.

CIOR Spring Meeting

The visit took place in conjunction with the spring meeting of the NATO-affiliated Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers (CIOR). The meeting serves the purpose of keeping the various workstrands of the organization going in-between the main annual meetings – hence the internal “go-by name”: In-Between-Meeting (IBM).

Tallinn will also host this year’s Summer Congress of CIOR.

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