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Reserves needed to boost allied capabilities

Current cuts in the number of active forces in most NATO countries make it even more important that effective use be made of reserve personnel and their experience. But reserves need proper training and preparation for missions, and their availabilty depends on the political will and the support of the civilian community in their countries. Support programmes for employers and closer civil-military cooperation and coordination are urgently needed.

It is now widely accepted that the capabilities of the standing forces of allied countries can be boosted by the effective integration and use of reserves. The current cuts being made in the number of active forces in most NATO countries, increases the need for more effective use to be made of reserve personnel and the experience they have gained in the civilian sector, especially in leadership matters. In civil-military cooperation in particular, the use of reserve officers and non-commissioned officers is increasingly welcomed.

The importance of reserves to the alliance was officially recognised in the new Strategic Concept adopted by allied leaders at their summit in Washington in April 1999, which states that the Alliance must be able to build up larger forces, both in response to any fundamental changes in the security environment and for limited requirements, by reinforcement, by mobilising reserves, or by reconstituting forces when necessary.

The importance of reserves to the alliance was officially recognised in the new Strategic Concept adopted at NATO's summit in Washington in April 1999. (CIOR photo - 10Kb)

But reserves need to be trained well and properly prepared for the missions assigned to them. Their availability depends on several factors at national level, such as political will and the support of the civilian community and employers. Support programmes for employers are urgently needed and civil-military cooperation and coordination must be secured, wherever this has not already been done. This can benefit both sides, since experience gained by reserves in military matters can also prove highly valuable in the civilian sector.

Promoting quality reserve forces

The Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers (CIOR) and the National Reserve Forces Committee (NRFC) have a common interest in promoting the quality and use of reserve forces, and work closely together. The two organisations were recognised in the 1999 NATO Framework Policy on Reserves (1) as having a direct impact on reserve issues.

The CIOR is an allied, interservice confederation of the national reserve officer associations in all NATO member countries (with the exception of Iceland, which has no army). It brings together more than 800,000 officers of 18 different nationalities, including members of the Confdration interallie des officiers medicaux de rserve (CIOMR), an affiliated confederation of medical reserve officers from allied nations.

Founded in 1948 and officially recognised by the alliance since 1976, its goals are to encourage national authorities to improve the capabilities of reserve forces, both for common defence and for new NATO missions; to promote the participation of reserves in NATO activities; and to improve the alliances understanding of the CIORs goals and potential.

Two major international meetings are organised annually, as well as a military competition for reserve officers and a workshop for young reserve officers. The CIOR is currently chaired by Belgium. Denmark takes over for a two-year term at the Berlin convention in August 2000.

The NRFC is a committee made up of national senior officials from NATO member countries. Liaison officers represent both NATOs International Military Staff and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE within it. Its main goals are to improve the preparedness of the alliances reserves, to counsel the Military-Committee in general considerations concerning reserves, and to provide the CIOR with advice and support.

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