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The EU’s fundamental aim in the Balkans is to create a situation where military conflict is unthinkable. The area of peace, stability and freedom established over the last 50 years by the EU and its member states has to be extended to this region.

This is the reason why the Austrian Presidency aims at enhancing the integration perspectives of the states of the Western Balkans.

Focus on the operations on the Western Balkans has been a particular concern of the Austrian Armed Forces since Austria joined the European Union. The Austrian Armed Forces put emphasis on this region as Austria’s security is strongly intertwined with the security in its environment. Therefore, it has been most natural for the Forces to assume responsibility over a brigade-size force like the MNTF-N in the EU-operation EUFOR - ALTHEA.

Contributing to the continuing stabilization of the Balkans is an important aspect that gives the Austrian Armed Forces an opportunity to further their reputation as a reliable and effective partner in international operations, particularly since the main effort of Austria’s operations has been in this region for a long time.

On the occasion of the Austrian Presidency, TRUPPENDIENST, the periodical of the Austrian Armed Forces dealing with operations, command and control, and training, has decided to produce another TRUPPENDIENST International in order to promote knowledge on the background of the EUFOR - ALTHEA mission.

This issue of TRUPPENDIENST International aims at understanding the historical developments of the Western Balkans from ancient times to the 20th century. Especially in the last decades of the past century we find the roots of the conflict.

A description of the collapse of Yugoslavia and the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the period from 1980 to 1995 answers the basic question, why EUFOR - ALTHEA is there.

Accomplishing peace support missions successfully requires not only professional military skills but also a wide knowledge of the country, its population, its culture and religions, its political and administrative system, and so on.

TRUPPENDIENST International No. 2 provides background information to this highly important European Union operation in the Western Balkans.

The editor wishes to thank all those who supported this project, in particular the former COS EUFOR, Brigadier General Peter Goebel (DEU-A), for the initiation of the project and Colonel Michael Pesendorfer, JD (AUT-A), who constantly kept the contact between EUFOR and the editorial office of TRUPPENDIENST in the preparation phase and who contributed significantly to the chapter on the EUFOR - ALTHEA mission.

Colonel Jörg Aschenbrenner, ScD, Editor-in-chief

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