Many challenges awaited this year’s competitors in Prague, but have been mastered very successfully
CIOR Military Competition
Concurrent with the CIOR Summer Congress 2017 in Prague, more than 200 athletes were scheduled to participate in CIOR’s military competition – MILCOMP. Established in 1957, MILCOMP is considered one of the most important military sport challenges worldwide. Each year, reservists from NATO countries and associated countries such as Switzerland and South Africa come together to compete in a highly specialized military pentathlon and to identify the world’s fittest reservists. The competition focusses on military skills that truly challenge the leadership and physical robustness of its participants. The disciplines are shooting with rifle and pistol (precision and rapid fire), a 500m long obstacle course, a 50m long water obstacle competition to be mastered in uniform, a military orienteering march event with map reading and range estimation as well as grenade throwing. In addition to the physical challenges, all competitors compete intellectually in tactical first aid and Law of Armed Conflicts (LOAC) competitions. A comprehensive test of physical and mental readiness!
Thus, if you are successful in the CIOR competitions, you can be sure to be one of the world’s fittest reservists in every respect.
Training for the Unpredictable
Teams participating in MILCOMP follow an intense training schedule during the months leading to the CIOR Summer Congress. They prepare the different disciplines with great attention to detail in order to master them for the competition. However, this year’s MILCOMP started with a surprise: A few days before departure to Prague, the teams received the message that competition grounds will not be available and thus, all disciplines have to be improvised spontaneously. As a result, preparation changed to a few hours on the day of the competition instead of an elaborate training concept, which was followed for several months. Despite this unpredicted challenge, teams mastered it greatly as their disciplined training enabled them to adapt quickly – a realistic test of changing conditions, as they happen in military operations and combat.
MILCOMP is also an ideal opportunity to promote and expand one’s own linguistic and intercultural skills. Despite the competition between the nations, sporting fairness ranks first. All teams, instructors and referees are in continuous exchange. The exchange is particularly intense in international teams as individual reservists of different nations compete. An entire week of English-speaking teamwork, especially in situations of physical and mental stress is a unique learning experience for everyone.
Arrival in Prague
After arriving in Prague, the competition began immediately. No detailed tests of competition grounds and material, but instead only a short inspection and then the immediate start of the competition.
In the late afternoon, all teams, together with the other participants of the CIOR / CIOMR Summer Congress, participated in an opening ceremony high above Prague’s old town.
Building an Obstacle Course…
On the first day of MILCOMP, all teams drove to the former Soviet military training ground “Tankodrom Milovidze”. Throughout the next days, they got to know the area well; obstacle course, hand grenade throwing, shooting and orientation took place here. The obstacle course was created after privatization and did not meet military competition standards. 20 obstacles made of wood, ropes and tires, had hitherto only been able to endure recreational usage. 15 minutes of the CIOR competitor’s test were sufficient to proof that not even half of the obstacles could withstand – they were not designed for that much strength and speed. Renovation and reinforcement began immediately. Three hours before the start of the first team, motor saws and hammer-hammering boomed over the course. With success, the reinforced track survived almost all 26 teams. In the end, Team Netherlands 1 finished just ahead of Team Germany 4, followed by Team Finland 1.
… and Set-Up a Shooting Competition
Day 2 of MILCOMP was all about shooting. First, participants shot the rifle disciplines, followed by the pistol disciplines – at around 37°C in the shade. The shooting discipline resulted in yet another unforeseen challenge: The lack of time to adjust the weapons’ sights as usually. But in the end, they mastered it well and Team International 2 finished just ahead of Team France 4, followed by Team Germany 1. Best marksman became Brian Mdlalose from South Africa.
Water Obstacle Course
The third day of MILCOMP offered a very contrasting program: A full day in the swimming pool. However, neither water obstacle course nor enough uniforms for swimming were available. So once again, the jury improvised: US Navy SEAL Commander Grant State developed an alternative based on SEAL training: 12.5m swimming sprint, releasing a fixed buoy, 12m sprint with the buoy in hand or between the teeth, dive and attach the buoy under water, out of the water, twist, head jump, 12.5m sprint, dive and take a 10kg heavy AK47 dummy under water and 12.5m final sprint with the rifle. Team Great Britain 5 scored 829.73 points and thus became first, followed by Team France 2 and Team Germany 4.
In the evening, all participants enjoyed a special entertainment program: The “National Evening” offering Czech specialties at the Hotel International – best food, folkloric performances and music in the heart of Prague.
The final highlight of every CIOR competition is the orienteering race. Once again, competitors went to the former Soviet military training ground in Milovidze. The practical test in Combat Casualty Care took place at the beginning of the run: First aid to injured players in bunker systems while being under strict supervision of the referees, doctors and paramedics of CIOMR. Then 14km through the rough terrain: Hot, sultry, thorny and overgrown, accompanied by heavy rain towards the end of the run. Some of the maps were from Soviet Union times and thus, required a lot of imagination: How did the tree structure develop over 30 years? Which paths are new and which are no longer recognizable? Which buildings on the military training ground were probably secret and never displayed on a map? At the finishing line, the competitors faced another exciting surprise: Each team had to master a trench full of obstacles carrying sandbags on the shoulders.
Team Germany 4 was the fastest team to run the orienteering course, but were placed 2nd after Team Great Britain 5, that showed superior performance in throwing hand grenades. Team Germany 3 was placed 3rd.
After the Competition
Back in the residence, the athletes celebrated their own achievements with an athletic evening.
The last day started intellectual: 3 hours of presentation, videos and discussion on Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) with the CIOR Legal Committee and subsequent team-based test.
In the evening, the award ceremony made this year’s MILCOMP results official: Overall, the first place of the MILCOMP went to members of Team Germany 4 who also became the overall winner of the category “Veteran“. The second place was awarded to Team Finland 2, followed by Team Germany 2 placed 3rd, but winning the category “Experienced“. Team International 2 ranked first within the category “International team“. In the category “Novice“, Team Netherlands 1 was able to foster its lead and thus placed first. Team France 3 became the winner of the category “Female team“.
We congratulate all competitors for these excellent results!
Many thanks to the German MILCOMP team for providing pictures and experience reports from the MILCOMP 2017 in Prague.