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.
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.
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’.