Home > Uncategorized > Austria: NATO Picks Off Europe’s Remaining Neutrals

Austria: NATO Picks Off Europe’s Remaining Neutrals

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe/Allied Command Operations

June 4, 2013

NATO Evaluates the Capability of the Austrian Armed Forces
Story by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class VeShannah J. Lovelace
SHAPE Public Affairs Office

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The OCC [Operational Capability Concept] team is responsible for evaluating units from Partnership for Peace nations to ensure they are combat ready by NATO standards to participate in NATO led operations…If they successfully complete the NATO evaluation process the Austrian Armed Forces will be deemed combat ready and capable of supporting NATO, European Union and United Nations led operations.

The evaluation teams were culturally diverse with members coming together from Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia, Jordan, Montenegro, Serbia, Sweden, Ukraine and Austria.

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A NATO team of evaluators from the Operational Capability Concept Evaluation and Feedback Program travelled to the military training area of Allentsteig, Austria May 21-30 to evaluate elements of the Austrian Armed Forces as part of European Advance 2013 (EURAD 13).

The OCC team is responsible for evaluating units from Partnership for Peace nations to ensure they are combat ready by NATO standards to participate in NATO led operations. Once a unit has passed the evaluation they are added to the NATO Pool of Forces. The Evaluation is performed at two levels, NEL 1 which evaluates interoperability and NEL 2 which evaluates capabilities. Once a team passes both levels they are re evaluated on NEL 2 once every three years.

If they successfully complete the NATO evaluation process the Austrian Armed Forces will be deemed combat ready and capable of supporting NATO, European Union and United Nations led operations.

“For Austria it is important to be in line with international standards due to the fact Austria has a huge contribution to missions not only for NATO but also for the European Union and the United Nations,” said the evaluation director Lt. Col. Ronald Schmied, Austrian Joint Forces Command Salzburg, Austria. “NATO provides a tool to check those standards.”

“For NATO it is important to have an overview of the capabilities of their partners,” Schmied added.

The NATO monitoring teams consisted of NATO members from Joint Forces Command Brunssum, supported by Headquarters Forces Command Madrid.

“JFC Brunssum was tasked by SHAPE to do NATO Evaluation Level 2 for Austria’s Armed Forces but not just for Austrians, there are more countries who are in the Operational Capabilities Concepts’ pool of forces,” said Bosnia and Herzegovina Army and JFC Brunssum OCC staff officer Lt. Col. Edin Fako.

The evaluation teams were culturally diverse with members coming together from Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia, Jordan, Montenegro, Serbia, Sweden, Ukraine and Austria.

“The OCC program gives my country a new experience and gives us more [opportunities to contribute to] NATO countries,” said one of the evaluators Jordanian Army Lt. Col. Aldababeh Suleiman, Jordan Forces Headquarters.

“We have evaluators from different partner countries, it’s an international partner community…so it’s very good that we are together to learn, to get some experiences from all sources of NATO countries but at the same time the partner countries can share their experiences in different fields,” added Fako.

During the two weeks of the evaluation the Austrian Armed Forces were tested in three different phases, beginning with an in barracks inspection which focused on checking the units’ documentation and plans, as well as material and communication (logistics) and some administration issues. The second phase was the field inspection followed by a live exercise.

“During the in barracks inspection part it is essential to check all the equipment, to check all the communications,” Schmied added. “Is it in line with NATO standards? We check the personnel strength. Is it in line with the Allied Forces standards? And the main focus the field inspection, are the units able to fulfill the tasks in the field?”

During this particular exercise there were eight units ranging in sizes from team level to Platoon and company level elements participating in the evaluation. Units being evaluated for the first time on NATO evaluation level 2 included a Military Police platoon, Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) Team, Human Intelligence (HUMINT) Team, Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) Team, Engineer Construction Company and an Explosive Ordinance (EOD) Platoon. The NEL2 Re evaluation centered around a Reconnaissance (RECCE) Company and a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN).

“We try to fulfill the NATO standards as good as possible. All our directives are written and translated from the NATO standards and we implemented them so that every soldier from the company is used to the NATO standards. [But] there are not so many differences between the Austrian standards and the NATO standards. We have other weapons and other uniforms but the way we execute for example a decontamination sight or we seize an assembly area is the same way like a Norwegian guy or a soldier from Great Britain, France or the United States fulfills this task,” said Austrian Army Capt. Paul Schoenbacher, Company Commander CBRN Defense Company Korneuburg, Vienna.

The OCC program does more than just serve to add combat ready units to the pool of NATO assets. It also gives partner nations the opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences in different field environments.

“We should try this in the future more and more because of that cooperation we can learn a lot. For example my chief evaluator has much more experience in real missions with real threats with injured soldiers and things like that. So with Partnership for Peace we have a lot of opportunities to learn from those other countries and we can develop our own standards, we can develop our own company. We can try to get used to our missions in a very good way,” said Schoenbacher.

“We are here mostly on our own, Austrians evaluating Austrians. When we bring in other nations it gives us some kind of neutrality. They see things a bit different, they see things that we might not see. And on the other hand we have NATO members who are very skilled and have the knowledge on all the processes that can guide us for the evaluation,” said Deputy Evaluation Director, Austrian Armed Forces Col. Werner Kross, Vorarlberg, Austria.

Overall the evaluation process was a valuable experience for all parties involved. The general consensus was that working together with all the partner nations gave everyone the opportunity to gain from each nation and each team members’ experiences and allowed the Austrian Armed Forces a sense of neutrality in the grading procedures.

“The whole evaluation organization is multinational. So no evaluation team is purely Austrian Armed Forces manned, all evaluation teams are mixed teams. That kind of evaluation organization guarantees transparency. I think that is the highlight for this evaluation,” said Schmied.

As for the CBRN company despite the hard work and training involved in preparing for the evaluation they welcomed and appreciated the opportunity to view themselves as seen through the eyes of others.

“Due to the NATO Evaluation Level 2 for us it’s a very tough time, tough days. All my soldiers try to give their best and it’s very important for each company commander for each platoon leader that there is every two or three years somebody who holds a mirror in front of you so that you can see in what things are we good and what things we have to improve and in what things we are not so good in fulfilling our tasks because otherwise no development would be possible,” added Schoenbacher.

According to members of the NATO evaluation team Schoenbacher and his team were not far off their target.

“The unit is doing very well, it’s obvious they know what to do and it’s obvious they’ve been trained well,” said Fako. Hopefully we’ll have more events like this in the future and more units will be ready for NATO led operations.”

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. rosemerry
    June 5, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Sgt. 1st Class VeShannah J. Lovelace and the whole screed show the madness we have reached. Insread of real jobs, peace and development, everyone considered a “good guy” is dragged into the NATO net, to destroy at great expense the environment and the well being of the humans of the globe.

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