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Delayed spring meeting in cyberspace

CIOR Public Affairs 03.07.2020

CIOR is this first week of July in the middle of its initial virtual conference involving all member associations. The IBM (”In-Between-Meeting”) scheduled for the spring but temporarily halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, takes place without the delegates physically meeting.

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

CIOR President, UK Army Colonel (Retd.) Chris Argent.

When the Corona-virus attacked in March, it became clear that CIOR needed to regroup and come up with a battle plan – one that did not involve physical presence for its meetings to move the extensive program of work forward.

– It was paramount for me as the leader of a military organisation that CIOR also related to the threat that had occurred in a military fashion, by finding an alternative way forward. To admit defeat, surrender and sit around waiting for things to get better was not an alternative, says CIOR President, UK Army Colonel (Retd.) Chris Argent.

A huge effort has therefore gone into establishing a safe means in which to meet. Building on the success of CIOR Connect, CIOR’s new digital workspace, it was quickly decided that professional video conferencing would provide the key functionality to run a large international meeting like this.

Many of those taking part have already become proficient in using this technology in their civilian careers, but comprehensive guidelines and rehearsals were prepared as well as facilities for Vice Presidents and Committees to be able to ‘chat’ as they would do in sidebar discussions at a normal meeting.

In addition, there was a requirement for precise scheduling to enable members from both Europe and North America to participate, fully allowing for different time zones.

– The Presidency is very happy with the way the first day of the meeting proceeded, Argent said.

The Norwegian delegation listening to CIOR President Chris Argent during his report to the CIOR Council. Photo: Ole Kristian Haagenrud, Communication Manager NROF.

– A success

– Both in technical terms and with regard to attendance, which totalled 44 on the first day, and effectivity of discussions and decisions, this clearly is a success, he stressed.

Argent believes the experience has shown that virtual meetings could replace some of the annual physical meetings, most typically the IBMs, due to huge savings in time and travel costs for the 34 member national associations. However, one of the key principles of CIOR is learning about other nations’ ways of working, and much work is done outside the formal sessions, so physical meetings are vital for success.

– This is up to the CIOR Council to decide, but we believe it has merit to meet in this way some of the times. It’s not a matter of either or, but with the help of modern technology to find an ”ideal” combination of virtual meetings and face-to-face human interaction, Argent points out.

Late Summer Congress

The first day of the IBM, among other important business, discussed the plans for holding a ”Late Summer Congress”, in lieu of the cancelled congress in Liege, Belgium.

Estonia has offered to host the Late Summer Congress in Tallinn, as they also did for the 2019 Summer Congress.

Details are to be agreed upon by the CIOR Council, but the proposal is to hold a congress as normal as possible. However, 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 also without the CIOR Language Academy – which will be busy fulfilling an operational task for the NATO International Military Staff (IMS). The mid-week Symposium of the Congress would be a scaled down version, according to the suggestion.

Call for nominations

Another matter of high importance discussed during the first day was the successful completion of job specifications for the newly re-established Reserve Advisor at NATO’s operational strategic headquarters, SHAPE – and the Presidency’s call for member nations to nominate candidates for the post.

The second day of the IBM continues with discussions on strategy and future presidencies, and the new ROW course for young reserve officers. The meeting will conclude Saturday noon.

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