Reserve team medals at international military competition

  • Published
  • By By retired Col. Chuck Ferguson
The U.S. military delegation earned a gold and three bronze medals at the annual CIOR Joint Forces Military Skills Competition in Madrid, Spain, July 28 – Aug. 7.

Col. Scott Branning led the team comprised of 12 Air Force Reservists, an Army Reservist and an Army National Guardsman.

All competitors mastered NATO-standard obstacle courses (running and swimming in uniform), pistol and rifle marksmanship, the land navigation sport of orienteering, and combat first aid.

After training at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the team traveled to the German Infantry School at Hammelburg to practice with the German team. It was an example of the international cooperation fostered by CIOR that will pay off big time in the future.

Open to all ranks in the Guard and reserve components, CIOR keeps its five-decades-old name from the French initials for “Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers.”

Most NATO members, and countries such as South Africa and Switzerland, send teams to the MILCOMP. Normally, U.S. training starts at the Army Guard’s Camp Johnson, outside Burlington, Vermont, but 2016’s training was entirely in Europe.

Competitors learn or sharpen military skills relevant to today’s battlefield, from small unit leadership to self-aid and buddy care, navigation, and “shoot, move, communicate.” Many in the Air Force Reserve excel at these opportunities, not easily obtainable in standard training.

Twelve counties competed in three-person teams in male and female, novice, experienced, and veteran categories or on International teams made from extra team members.

International Team 2, led by Staff Sgt Reuben Sublett, Army Reserve, won gold and three U.S. teams won bronze in novice, experienced and female categories.

Events begin with all teams shooting the host nation’s pistol and rifle.

Day two involves a 500-meter NATO standard obstacle course with 20 obstacles -- team time is when the last team member crosses the finish line -- and a 50-meter swim in uniform (no boots) over five obstacles, again with team time from the last member to touch the end.

Day three hosts a 15 kilometer “Orientation March” (land navigation) usually involving multiple maps ranging in scale from 1:10,000 to 1:50,000 and including memory legs, dead reckoning (pace and azimuth), aerial photos and any other navigation tests devised by the host country. Land navigation includes tests in military skills as grenade accuracy, map reading and distance estimation.

Once in Spain all teams showed flexibility as events changed from past years. Competitors commented that the Spanish Lama 82 pistol paled in accuracy compared to the U.S. military’s Beretta.

No matter. All teams shot similar weapons.

The scoped G-36 assault rifle on the other hand and the change from a 200-meter outdoor range to a 100-meter indoor range (with correspondingly smaller targets) led to some of the highest rifle scores in recent competitions. The land navigation course required navigating to 19 precise locations (called “controls”) over a 13-kilometer course. Two maps were provided with three controls on a 1:10,000 scale aerial photo and 16 on a 1:25,000 sport orienteering map. At control 17 competitors donned a harness to cross a stream on two wire cables, one above the other, hung across a stream.

The host nation for the 2017 MILCOMP will be decided at the Mid-Winter meeting in Brussels in February.

Complete information, including a training manual, descriptions and videos of the events, and the application process, is available online at

Reservists interested in competing in CIOR events can contact Ferguson at