CIOR 2023 Military Competition

The Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers Military Competition has been held annually among NATO nations since 1957 for the purpose of sharing training techniques and testing skills in advanced military capabilities. It involves 100 male/female military members from 12 nations competing on 3-person teams. This year the competition involved 30 teams and was held in Helsinki, Finland. The core pentathlon events are pistol and rifle shooting, land and water obstacle courses, and land navigation. Additional tests in combat casualty care and laws of armed conflict are conducted as well.

EMPO member Grant Staats retired from active service several years ago as an 06, a Navy Captain. He competed regularly in the competition from 1995 to 2010 and since 2007 has led the US training program. In 2011 he assumed additional responsibilities at the higher NATO level of organizing, mentoring, judging, and leading the Committee that oversees the annual competition. 

Each year Grant organizes and coordinates a one week training camp prior to the NATO competition which is implemented by a team of 15 trainers. This year the Team trained at Fort Dix, NJ for one week, then traveled to Southern Sweden for a week of bi-lateral training, and finally to Helsinki, Finland for the 2023 championship event.

Grant is ably assisted each year by his wife Kathy, who orchestrates Family Support (Events, Logistics, and Communication) for the US Team.

Kathy and Grant
Grant at EMPO’s Rotary NRE, 2022

Most interesting to the Orienteering community is the land navigation discipline. This event typically includes an orienteering run of approximately 12km, with contestants in military uniform, including boots, and carrying weapons. There are several map changes/formats experienced that typically include: various scale sport-o, grid, aerial photo, contour only, trail, shadow/moon and postage stamp, among others. There are orienteering type/segment challenges in line-o, pace/azimuth, plotting, score-o, canoe-o, bike-o, ski-o, etc. Additionally skills are tested in map reading, range estimation, and grenade throwing.

This year, the Finns organized an extremely challenging and complex land navigation event on world class terrain and maps some 50km north of Helsinki. The winning run time, by a Finnish team, was 161mins. Each team was real-time GPS tracked and observed by home supporters via website projections. Lead orienteers often run sport-o events for training, at the elite level, in the range of 7-8min/km.

At the time of this writing the teams GPS tracks could be viewed at

All teams run the same course with map changes occurring in the forest and additional challenges taking place in staged locations throughout the event. A collage of this year’s maps is presented below.

A short promotional video for CIOR 2023 can be seen at