A Reserve Officer from 135 Geographic Squadron, Royal Engineers, currently with University of London Officer Training Corps, met with her counterparts from other NATO countries in the Czech Republic in April to discuss cross cultural communication.
2Lt Victoria Earl, from London, was one of 14 Officers from across the Army, Navy and Air Force sponsored by the UK Reserve Forces Association to attend the CIOR Conference in Prague. The three day event aimed to train reservists about the importance of cultural understanding and negotiation in military operations.
“Reservists have an important part to play in our modern armed forces, more and more so with FR2020. The opportunity to train alongside our NATO counterparts has been exceptionally worthwhile,” explains Victoria.
“There were representatives from nine countries including America and South Africa. It was great to have the chance to work alongside them.”
The event included workshops on cultural considerations, working with interpreters, negotiation and rapport building. It was set up by the Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers, an organisation representing over 36 NATO countries that advises NATO on reservist issues.
“The interactive nature of the workshops enhanced the learning experience,” said Victoria. “We had the opportunity to discuss our own cultural differences and experiences, and learnt how to utilise our own negotiation styles to maximum effect”.
“It is all about winning hearts and minds,” says Kate Smith, training specialist from the US Army Tradoc Culture Centre, who was leading some of the workshops.
“Culture training is a vital part of modern combat. It is all about influencing and communicating with others. Relationship building is a key part of modern asymmetric warfare. Negotiation is a very important skill for young officers in today’s environment. Negotiators need to know who they are and who their opponent is in order to achieve the desired outcome.
“The participation from the officers has been really good,” she added. “To watch them bring not only their military skills but their civilian expertise to the table as well has been great to see. This is something unique to the reserves.”
The event ended with an informal ceremony and attendants received certificates from the current President of the Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers, Bulgarian Army Lieutenant Colonel Dimitar Popov (Reserve).
“It is so important that we train young officers in multi-national situations to prepare them for NATO operations in an ever changing global environment,” he said.
“I have been very pleased with the feedback from this course. The officers have engaged positively and we have seen some excellent negotiation skills, which are so vital in international relations.”
Story and Photos courtesy of University of London Officers’ Training Corps