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.

Wilhelmshaven Declaration on Ukraine

“We demand that the Russian Regime ceases its activities, seen as war crimes, immediately. [Russia] must be, and will be, held accountable for its actions.”

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

A further condemnation of Russia’s warfare in Ukraine, and the involvement of Belarus, came out of the organisation’s spring meeting in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, yesterday. It was, in part, a reaction to shock and disbelief over atrocities committed towards the civilian population in Bucha and other occupied towns over the last few weeks.

The CIOR President had earlier condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on behalf of the Presidency.

Executed

Many civilians have been found killed, some with tied hands and head shots. Photo: Vadim Chirdal/AP.

Several hundred people have been found killed as Ukrainian forces have retaken suburbs north of and around Kyiv – some with their hands tied behind their backs and with execution-style gun wounds to their heads. Others were shot off their bikes on the way to the market, or gunned down in their front yard.

The tortured body of a mayor and her family were found buried in the forest, allegedly for being “informants” to the Ukrainian armed forces.

There are many more stories, and the full scale of the horror is yet to be discovered.

Russia has denied involvement in the killings, but forensic experts are currently on the ground collecting evidence and testimonies. Satellite imagery appears to show that many of the dead bodies were lying on the streets for several weeks, from when the area was under control by Russian forces.

Wilhelmshaven Declaration

An official statement, named the Wilhelmshaven Declaration, was approved by Council, CIOR’s highest decision-making body, and signed by the President and Secretary General of CIOR at the end of the meeting.

“We, as CIOR, stand together in solidarity. Our reservists are ready to bear our duty to protect our homelands and the democracies, freedoms, and human rights of the people”, the declaration reads.

In English and French

The declaration, that you can read in its entirety in English here, and in French here, was unanimously agreed to by all CIOR’s Vice Presidents – the heads of all national delegations – present at the meeting, and signed by the President and Secretary General in an official ceremony on the 5th of April. The declaration will now be published in all CIOR’s more than 30 member associations’ nations.

CIOR Secretary General André Roosen and President Jan Hörmann signing the Wilhelmshaven Declaration. Photo: Rob Wilkinson.

 

 

 

German Frigate under CIOR Flag

The CIOR spring meeting, formally named IBM, started with a situation briefing about the war in Ukraine from a Baltic perspective. The venue for the meeting was Wilhelmshaven – Germany’s only deep-water port, and its largest naval base.

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

The spring meeting (IBM = In-Between-Meeting) is meant to ensure continuity between the Mid-Winter Meeting and the Summer Congress, the organisation’s main annual event, and started on Sunday, April 3rd.

A half day initial meeting was followed by transit to the harbour and an overnight tour with the German Navy frigate ”FGS Sachsen-Anhalt” to Hamburg. While on board, there were updates and discussions to prepare the Summer Congress in Athens and the handover of the Presidency from Germany to Estonia.

A frigate under CIOR flag

CIOR was well-received by the commanding officer and crew on board the 125 class frigate, Germany’s newest, and even got to raise its flag while entering the harbour of Hamburg!

CIOR delegates on board the German frigate FGS Sachsen-Anhalt.

Following the disembarkation, there was a cultural event with the Navy Band, and a reception at the Naval Museum.

The meeting was to be continued Tuesday, with a full day’s agenda.

First in-person meeting in two years

This is the first physical meeting of CIOR since the autumn of 2020, when a hybrid (for those that wanted and could travel to attend in person, with virtual attendance for the rest) ”Late Summer Congress” took place in Tallinn, Estonia. It is the first regular meeting since the Mid-Winter Meeting in Brussels more than two years ago.

February 8th: The 2022 CIOR Seminar: ‘North Africa and US-NATO/EU-relations’

Whilst the world is holding its breath for future developments in Ukraine, the rest of the world is not at a stillstand. For instance: North Africa and the Sahel region are trying to come to grips with ongoing political instability, population growth, consequences of climate change, and increasing involvement of China.

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

North Africa is as a matter of speaking on the border of Europe. What are the safety and security implications to our continent of these above-mentioned developments? Will it have an impact on US/NATO-EU relations? And if so, in what way will that effect these relations?

The 2022 CIOR Seminar on February 8th will make an attempt to address these issues in order to get a bit of a better understanding of what is going on – with speakers from the US Africa Command and NATO.

The seminar takes place between 15:30 and 20:00 Central European Time.

Register here!

French troops in Mali. Photo: Finbarr O’Reilly/The New York Times.

Online CIOR Seminar 2022 on February 8th!

The 2022 CIOR Seminar: ‘North Africa and US-NATO/EU-relations’

North Africa and the Sahel region are trying to come to grips with ongoing political instability, population growth, consequences of climate change, and increasing involvement of China.

What are the safety and security implications to the European continent of these above-mentioned developments? Will it have an impact on US/NATO-EU relations? And if so, in what way will that effect these relations?

The 2022 CIOR Seminar on February 8th will make an attempt to address these issues in order to get a bit of a better understanding of what is going on – with speakers from the US Africa Command and NATO.

The seminar takes place online between 15:30 and 20:00 Central European Time on the announced date: February 8th, 2022.

We are very much looking forward to your registration and participation in the 2022 CIOR Seminar!

The CIOR Seminar organizing Committee.

(Registration/joining details to follow.)

You can read more about the CIOR Seminar institution here.

The CIOR machinery is working

Towards the end of last year, the current German-led and the incoming Estonian-led Presidency met physically in Kassel, Germany, for a planning meeting. This was yet another example of CIOR keeping wheels turning during these challenging times.

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

Despite restrictions on travel and meetings, it was possible to carry through with the gathering with all key players present: CIOR President Jan Hörmann; President elect Toomas Luman; Secretary General André Roosen; Secretary General elect, André Lilleleth; Head of the CIOR Office, Mathias Krämer; next Assistant Secretary General for Organisation, Mari Uuemaa; and CIOR’s Permanent Representative at the NATO Headquarters, Ben Jonckers.

The topics that were covered included the transfer of responsibility from the German-led to the Estonian-led Presidency during the Summer Congress of 2022 – planned for Athens, Greece – the CIOR legal body situation and the general status of CIOR management at the time of the handover.

From an earlier meeting of CIOR´s next presidential team comprising of Estonian, Belgian, British, Finnish and Swedish reserve officers. Photo by Sqn Ldr Rob Wilkinson, Royal Air Force.

Contingency Plan

There was also a discussion on technical arrangements for the transfer of responsibility for the Presidency in the event of a restricted situation preventing the Summer Congress from taking place as a physical event.

Overall, the gathering in Kassel was considered important for the organisation in a situation where all CIOR-format meetings during the epidemic high tides normally are transferred to the digital domain.

Incoming Secretary General André Lilleleth.

-Will be ready

-It was agreed who is responsible for what, and we will be ready to take over the CIOR flag during SC22 even if the virus should force us to remain in the virtual world for another six months, incoming Secretary General André Lilleleth said.

Past CIOR President Argent awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire

Immediate Past President of CIOR, Colonel (Ret.) Chris Argent, UK Army, has been awarded with the title “Officer of the Order of the British Empire” (OBE). Argent receives the award for his dedicated service to the UK Reserve Forces Association (UKRFA) and his Presidency role within CIOR.

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

File photo: Colonel (Ret.) Chris Argent, UK Army.

– To have been entrusted to be the President of CIOR for two years, together with the management of our national reserves association, has been a great privilege – and now for that to be recognised by Her Majesty The Queen is humbling, Argent said when asked for a comment.

– In accepting this honour I recognise the enormous support I received from my Presidential Team from 2018 to 2020, he continued – and added:

– I very much hope that as we emerge around the globe from the Pandemic, CIOR can move forward and once again demonstrate its support to NATO with relevant outputs, as the representative body of the Reserves Community.

Buckingham Palace

The award was made public in the UK New Years Honours list. It will be presented at Buckingham Palace in due course by either Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth or another senior member of the Royal Family.

Major role

To recieve the award “Officer of the Order of the British Empire” one must have played a major local role in any activity, including people whose work has made them known nationally.

The order

The Order of the British Empire was established by King George V in 1917 to honour those who had served in a non-combative role and expanded the Order to reward contributions to the Arts, Sciences, Charitable work and Public Service. The Order is comprised of five classes across both military and civilian divisions.

The grades are: Knight/Dame Grand Cross (GBE); Knight/Dame Commander (KBE/DBE); Commander (CBE); Officer (OBE); Member (MBE).

(Source: Wikipedia.)

 

US Air Force Reserve supports one of the largest Airlift Operations in History

Reserve Citizen Airmen are playing a huge role in what is being described by senior U.S. government officials as one of the largest airlift operations in history, as Airmen are supporting the evacuation of thousands of people from Afghanistan.

By: Jon Quinlan, HQ Air Force Reserve Command

(First posted on www.afrc.af.mil)

The Defense Department is getting American citizens, Afghans with special immigrant visa applications in process and other vulnerable Afghans out of the country. This will continue to be the No. 1 priority right up until the very end, according to Pentagon Press Secretary, John F. Kirby.

A Reserve Citizen Airman from the 349th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, California, board a C-17 Globemaster III prior to a mission supporting the Afghanistan evacuation, Aug. 24th. The 349th AMW is providing rapid global mobility to assist the U.S. State Department in the safe evacuation of Americans and allied civilian personnel from Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jose B. Aquilizan)

Air Force Reserve Command Airmen are contributing to the total force evacuation effort operating 17 aircraft to include, C-17 Globemaster III’s, C-130 Hercules, C-5M Super Galaxy’s, and KC-10 Extender with 73 aircrews and hundreds of maintenance, security, medical and support personnel.

These Airmen were activated to ensure safe passage of Americans and Afghan allies from Kabul to locations throughout the globe.

In many cases, Air Force Reserve Airmen are blended into Total Force crews, mixing active duty, Guard and Reserve.

“The United States is the only nation capable of rapidly deploying forces to provide nonstop airlift operations at this scale. It would not be possible without the support of our Total Force—active, guard and Reserve Citizen Airmen—seamlessing integrating to execute the mission” said Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, AFRC commander and Chief of the Air Force Reserve.

“Once again, our Air Force Reservists are proudly answering our nation’s call, responding in less than 24 hours. I’m overwhelmed with pride as all of our Service men and women take care of Americans, our allies and vulnerable Afghans.”

“Once again, our Air Force Reservists are proudly answering our nation’s call (…)”

Reserve Citizen Airmen and aircraft from multiple units around the U.S. are contributing, including, but not limited to: the 315th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina; the 445th Airlift Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; 908th Airlift Wing, Maxwell AFB, Alabama; 349th Air Mobility Wing, Travis AFB, California; 911th Airlift Wing, Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania; 452 Air Mobility Wing, March Air Reserve Base, California and more.

Air reserve component count for nearly 60% of mobility capacity

“Nearly 60% of our mobility capacity resides in the air reserve component, underscoring the importance of a Total Force approach,” said Col Mark Villacis, HQ AFRC, Chief of Mobility Operations Division (A3M). “An airlift operation of this historic magnitude can only be executed with Total Force Integration.”

“The partnership between Regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve is key to lifesaving Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO) under extreme conditions we are experiencing in Kabul Afghanistan.”

A child looks at the aircraft as he is strolled towards his flight during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 24th. Reserve Citizen Airmen are playing a huge role in what is being described by senior U.S. government officials as one of the largest airlift operations in history. The C-17 Globemaster III aircraft were operated by crews from the 315th Airlift Wing. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Samuel Ruiz).
A U.S. Air Force security forces raven and Reserve Airmen assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, maintain a security cordon around a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in support of the Afghanistan evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), Afghanistan, Aug. 24, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen)

About 88,000 American citizens, civilian allies, Afghan special immigrant visa applicants and other vulnerable Afghans have been taken out of harm’s way since Aug. 14, Army Maj. Gen. William D. “Hank” Taylor, the Joint Staff’s deputy director for regional operations, said at a Pentagon briefing.

During a 24-hour period Aug. 24, he said 42 U.S. military aircraft departed Kabul with 11,200 people and coalition and allied partners flew 7,800 people to safety. Another 10,000 people were at the airport awaiting departure.

A total of 88.000 people evacuated in one week

“88,000 in the course of just a week, a week and a half is no small feat,” Kirby said.

Additionally, on two separate AFRC C-17 air evacuation sorties out of Kabul, the crews assisted in the delivery of two Afghan babies in flight before touching down at coalition airbases. One baby was named ‘Reach’ after the aircraft call sign.

Aircrews from the 315th AW, 445th AW and a flight nurse from the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron helped in the deliveries along with ground and medical personnel at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar and Ramstein AB, Germany.

Part-time force – full-time support

The Air Force Reserve is a predominantly part-time force which, when mobilized, provides full-time support to the Joint Force. In addition to its daily contributions to global operations, it provides rapid surge capability and strategic depth for national defense.

U.S. Air Force loadmasters and pilots assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, load passengers aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III in support of the Afghanistan evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), Afghanistan, Aug. 24th, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen)

 

The Arctic – a geopolitical Hotspot

After a successful first day, anticipation for day two of the 2021 CIOR Seminar ran high. Two exciting talks waited for the participants. Dr. Duncan Depledge, Lecturer in Geopolitics and Security from Loughborough University introduced the CIOR Seminar participants to the geopolitical situation in the far north, and Dr. Pavel K. Baev, Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO) and Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institute, took a deeper look at Russia’s security posture in the Arctic.

By: Mr. Paul Strobel, Officer Cadet, Bundeswehr

Dr. Depledge set the scene by reminding participants that the Arctic is not in fact the vast cold emptiness so many of us imagine when we hear about the region. Despite that the area is dominated by water and ice, it has been inhabited for thousands of years.

The population usually is part of one of the sovereign states surrounding the Arctic. The US, Canada, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia comprise the Arctic Council, which aims to further cooperation in the area and also offers a seat for representatives of the indigenous people living in the high north.

The Arctic Council works on consensus and excludes military and security matters because they are considered to be too divisive.

The US – no more “a reluctant Arctic state”

Dr. Depledge reminded the seminar participants of the statement of former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who called out Russia’s and China’s aggressive behaviour in the region and shifted the US status from a “reluctant arctic state” to one who is heavily involved in the area.

With the Arctic now firmly on the US radar, Dr. Depledge highlighted three main interests for the US in the far north.

Firstly, there is homeland defence, mainly aimed against the missile threat from northern Russia. The second US concern is Chinese commercial and scientific infiltration, which they fear might be an excuse for a long-term military build-up in the area. Thirdly, Dr. Depledge stated: “The Arctic increasingly links the US to the rest of the world.”

“They [the US]don’t necessarily look at this space as one to conquer and hold, but as one they want to secure passage through.” …and linking this potential field of conflict to one area that is very high on NATO’s agenda, Dr. Depedge continued: “A crisis in the Baltics will undoubtedly have consequences for the Arctic as one major supply line.”

Speaking about Russia’s strategy for the region, Dr. Depledge stated three main goals for the federation: Extraction of natural resources, keeping NATO away from their territory and projecting naval forces globally. From a military perspective, Dr. Depledge explained: “What Russia doesn’t want is a) encirclement and b) a fight in the Russian arctic. So what they do is (to) project force in the Atlantic.”

Russian Special Forces in the 200th Independent Motor Rifle Brigade of the Northern Fleet training with reindeer sleds. Photo: Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.

As far as China’s role in the Arctic is concerned, Dr. Depledge called for caution. “We often hear that China is trying to buy its way into the high north. But we don’t see much evidence of that. We also don’t see a military effort there.”

What China does do however is trying to expand its reach by diplomatic and mostly scientific means. Dr. Depledge explained: “What China ultimately wants is geopolitical influence. So if and when the Artic becomes more important, China wants to be in a position where they have a say in matters. They don’t want to be excluded.” Science and some economic investment in the area are their way to make sure they have a seat at the table, he explained.

A detailed look at Russia’s role

After a lively discussion, the Seminar reconvened for the second talk of the day – with Dr. Pavel K. Baev of PRIO, who took a more detailed look at Russia’s role in the region.

Right from the beginning Dr. Baev emphasised: “Russia is the arctic superpower. In the rest of the world it may not be able to keep up, but as far as the arctic is concerned they are a superpower and they are very proud of that position.” This, Dr. Baev showed, is emphasised by the attention the far north gets from Putin personally and the strong public feelings about the Arctic in Russia.

Dr. Baev detailed two tracks of Russia’s arctic policy: Firstly, collaboration based on politics and economic development in the area, and secondly, a strong military build-up.

“On the military track, confrontation feels good for Russia. The more NATO activity in the north, the more Russia emphasises the need for a military build-up there”

Concerningly, Dr. Baev pointed out, the collaborative spirit hasn’t shown any major rewards for Russia recently, while the military aspects have. “On the military track, confrontation feels good for Russia. The more NATO activity in the north, the more Russia emphasises the need for a military build-up there”, Dr. Baev explained on the security paradox in the region.

Particularly the nuclear super-concentration on the Kola Peninsula is a great concern in this regard. A high concentration of ballistic missiles and nuclear submarines in the area are not only dangerous in a direct military sense, but have proven accident prone in the past with catastrophic consequences often only narrowly avoided. But, as Dr. Baev explained, “Russia sees risk taking as a strategic advantage vis-à-vis a reluctant west.”

Svalbard at risk

One risk Russia might be tempted to take, in Dr. Baevs opinion, would be a Crimea-style invasion of the Norwegian territory of Svalbard, which would guarantee Russian access to the western seas. With the island being demilitarised, Dr. Baev raised concerns about its security and NATO’s ability to protect and retake it, should conflict arise.

But Dr. Baev also pointed out that Russia is currently distracted and preoccupied in other strategic theatres, which are a lot more pressing. His hope is that Russia’s presidency in the Arctic Council this year will further the collaborative spirit of Russia’s engagement in the Arctic.

Dr. Baev pointed out that Russia’s position in the Asia-Pacific sphere is extremely weak and although China isn’t currently pressing at these weaknesses, we don’t know how this situation will develop over time.

– China wants access, trade and economic value

With regard to China’s activity in the arctic itself, Dr. Baev pointed out: “China is not interested at all in the Russian military build-up in the Arctic. What they want is access, trade and economic value.”

Like the first day, the second day also ended with a very lively discussion among seminar participants, with participants linking together the two lectures and furthering their understanding of the Arctic and its strategic ramifications.

 

International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

Today is the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. CIOR and NATO celebrates the anniversary together with the United Nations. The theme this year is  ‘Women in peacekeeping: A Key to Peace’.

“The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, 29 May, offers a chance to pay tribute to the uniformed and civilian personnel’s invaluable contribution to the work of the Organisation and to honour more than 3,900 peacekeepers who have lost their lives serving under the UN flag since 1948, including 102 last year.

This year, the challenges and threats faced by UN peacekeepers are even greater than ever, as they, like people around the world, are not only having to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, but also support and protect the people in the countries they are based in. They are continuing their operations to the best of their abilities and supporting the governments and the local populations,  despite the risk of COVID-19.

The theme for this year’s Day is “Women in Peacekeeping: A Key to Peace” to help mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.” (Source: UN website)

Read more @ https://www.un.org/en/observances/peacekeepers-day

 

 

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