Austrian Officers' Association
Fore-Field Organisation of the Army
As of January 2000 the Austrian Officers' Association has an new president. Colonel A. F. Eber is the successor of Hans-Michael Malzacher, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Steyr Special Vehicles, who had been presiding the Austrian Officers' Association for more than 20 years.
Colonel Eber, you have taken over the presidency of the Austrian Officers' Association at a decisive turning-point for the Austrian Armed Forces. But to clarify this first: What exactly is the Austrian Officers' Association? What does it stand for?
The Austrian Officers' Association was founded 40 years ago. It is the parent organisation of ten Officers' Associations in the Federal Provinces, one in each, except for Lower Austria, where there are two. Approximately 10.000 career-, militia-, reserve-officers and officers retired are members of our organisation. The strategic platform of the Austrian Officers' Organisation is based on the core values of the officers, seeing officers as leaders sui generis who have to take on special responsibility of leadership both in times of peace or conflicts. The Austrian Officers' Association above all is the defence-political conscience of this country.
You have just mentioned the core values of an Officer. How would you define the core values of an officer in Austria?
Many years ago, the famous general Douglas McArthur has offered the following definition in West Point."Duty, honour, country". We have developed the so-called five Olympic rings. We consider leadership competence, responsibility of leadership, identification & loyalty as main issues. But these qualities would lead nowhere without abilities and skills and without the capability to communicate competence and solidarity. Of special importance the solidarity of those leading with those being led. We have developed a special strategy paper "The Austrian Officers' Association 2000" with the purpose of enabling the Austrian Officers' Association as a forefield organisation of the army to fulfil its tasks as a organisation not only in the year 2000 but further on, for the next decades in which tremendous changes in the scenery of defence throughout Europe, but also here in Austria can be expected. A reduction of the permanent forces, the extension of the reserve components of the forces, professionalising the reserve components are of fundamental concern to us.
Where aboye all are you envisaging changes in Austria?
During the past 10 years the Austrian Armed Forces have been assisting in securing frontiers and thus have experienced in practice what the Swiss call constabularisation of the armed forces. More than 200.000 Austrian soldiers have been serving at the EU borderlines since the early nineties and this definitely is beyond the capacity the Department of the Interior would be able to cope with.
In Austria above all the questions of professional of conscript service is being discussed? What is the position of the Austrian Officers' Association in this matter?
Our attitude in this matter is clear-cut. We are for the adherence to conscript service army, however with all possible steps of modernisation, from equipment right up to the education and leadership factor. We are for the continuation of the militia system in this country, considering the fact that most of the NATO countries have begun to reduce their permanent forces and to give reserve components new significance and importance. With more than 40.000 UN soldiers respectively partnership-for-peace operations Austria has contributed a quite essential share which should not be underestimated. Giving it due weight, it can be said that Austria through its special engagement within the scope of UN peace operations, similarly to Sweden, Ireland or Finland really occupies an exceptional position and is a factor that counts.
Since the new constellation of the government has a great influence in the development of the Austrian Armed Forces, subjects such as interceptor planes, new helicopters are under discussion. What is your attitude in this matter?
The core problem is that for many years past the Austrian Armed Forces have not received the means for investments which actually would have been a necessity. In a time of economising the Austrian Armed Forces have an enormous backlog in investments. This simply has to be considered in addition to social and other aspects. That conscript service forces, militia and a restructuring of the Armed Forces help to reduce personnel expenses in order to have funds for the absolutely necessary investments can be a short-time remedy only. In the future a clear commitment on the way to Europe is imperative.
You mentioned November 18th, as Celebration Day for 40 years Austrian Officer's association. Which are the key points of the celebration?
The way to Europe, where prominent referents from economy, politics and armed forces will give talks. Approximately 400 officers are expected. It is an opportunity for the Austrian officers to stay their ground displaying their flag. It is a defence-political outstanding event that is supposed to give impulses to and support for the necessary developments within the military realm.
Colonel Eber, you are a militia officer. What is your main profession?
My regular profession is management consultant and I am mainly engaged in the areas of strategy, marketing and human resources management. I can base my consulting services on many years of experience gained during my top management career, especially in internationally operating companies. In my career as militia officer I have been company commander, battalion commander and regimental commander of border and militia units and I am also the author of the book "Austrians Blue Berets" in which Austrian UN operations are described.
Diplomacy-United Nations- Economy-Culture
Year 55 No 315/2000
The Leading Magazine of the International Diplomatic and Civil Society in Austria
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