Austrian Armed Forces in UN Missions for 45 Years
On this date, 50 years ago, Austria became a member of the United Nations (UN) with its Army in existence for just two months. Since 1960, approximately 60,000 soldiers have served in 70 peacekeeping missions.
"The soldiers of the Austrian Armed Forces have guaranteed safety and help on foreign and domestic sites for five decades", Günther Platter, Minister of Defence, states. "They have made a major contribution to maintaining peace and stability in regions of crisis around the globe."
In these missions, the Austrian soldiers have earned themselves a well-merited international reputation of excellence. The Armed Forces, according to Platter, have always been able to solve given problems, be it in Sri Lanka, on the Golan Heights, in Kosovo and Bosnia or, most recently, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Army provided a field hospital already in 1960 during a UN mission in the former Belgian Congo, where doctors and medics looked after the locals’ well-being. Austrian medics were employed in Cyprus in 1964; military observers were stationed in the Middle East during the events of 1967.
Cyprus, Golan Heights, Bosnia and Kosovo
1972 saw the first deployment of troops to actual UN operations, the first being an infantry battalion to Cyprus (1972-2001), which was followed by a further battalion for the Middle East in 1973, first to serve in Egypt and subsequently on the Golan Heights since 1974. From 1973 onwards, Austria participates in foreign assignments with at least two battalions and other assistance (e. g. observers).
In the nineties, the Austrian Army engaged in the UN mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (IFOR, SFOR 1996-2001) with a transportation unit. Other recent missions include KFOR (1999- ) with a battalion in Kosovo and the stationing of battalion-sized troops in Bosnia starting in 2004.
Currently, more than 1,220 Austrian soldiers participate in 14 worldwide peacekeeping missions.