Summary: Austria’s Defense Policy for European Security
Since the end of the Cold War the threat scenario has fundamentally changed. In order to meet the new challenges, network-centric multinational security policy in all areas, including the military part of the spectrum, is needed. This is exactly what is understood by the term "Europeanization of national security and defense policy" and signifies the probably most drastic turning point in the European, and therewith also the Austrian, security-political concept.
The adoption of the Enlarged Petersberg Spectrum reflects the European Union’s understanding that it will have to confront the current and expectable challenges with a truly comprehensive security policy. This will require the readiness and the will, on European as well as on national level, to actually deploy troops, if need be. In this respect, there still seems to be a yawning gap between reality and necessity on both levels, that of the EU as well as that of the national states.Austria will be well advised to do anything it can to consistently contribute to the further development of the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). It is, therefore, also in Austria’s very own national interest that the European Constitution Treaty be adopted. At present, Austria is already actively contributing to European Security Policy by participating with approximately 1,100 servicemen and servicewomen in operations abroad, which meets with international recognition.
According to its size and economic capacity, Austria will have to maintain armed forces that are also qualitatively comparable to those of other modern states of similar potential. The altogether positive reactions to the work of the Austrian Armed Forces Reform Commission indicate that the need for a force reform has been widely recognized and that the intended orientation is meeting with as much approval.
More specifically, it is a question of creating an operational force capability by 2010 that will guarantee adequate Austrian participation in operations of multinational conflict prevention and crisis management across the entire spectrum of the Petersberg tasks. In doing so, the principle structures will have to be established in a manner that also allows for fulfilling the tasks at home, i.e. ground and air defense of national sovereignty and the population.
As Austria’s security and defense policy is facing great challenges, the public as well as the decision-making bodies and the respective military leaders are called upon to consider the needs of the reform with responsibility and understanding.
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