AUSBATT mission comes to an end!

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8 Jul 2013

AUSBATT mission comes to an end!

July 5, 2013 – The Austrian government had decided to withdraw all Austrian peacekeepers from UNDOF.

As a result the Austrian Battalion left the mission after 39 years of successful peacekeeping on the Golan.

Once upon a time in June 1974 contingents from Austria, Peru, Poland and Canada were deployed from UNEF II in Sinai to Syria. AUSBATT inherited the northern part of UNDOF's Area of Separation (AOS) including the Mt. Hermon area. The battalion provided three infantry companies along the AOS from Position Hermon Hotel at 2.814m above sea level (1st Coy) via Hadar village (3rd Coy) to Quneitra (2nd Coy). The Battalion's HQ and the HQ Company were located in Camp Faouar.

In 1998 Slovakian troops were fully implemented in the Austrian Battalion and took over responsibility of the 3rd Coy. Ten years later in 2008 they were replaced by soldiers from Croatia. After the Croatian withdrawal in March 2013 the Austrians again took over the 3rd Company. At the end 379 Austrians peacekeepers served in UNDOF, 360 of them in AUSBATT, 18 Staff Officers in HQ UNDOF in Camp Faouar, 1 Staff Officer in Camp Ziouani.

The high value of the Austrians within UNDOF was underlined by the delegation of four Austrian Force Commanders since 1974: The first one was MGen Hannes Philipp from December 1974 to May 1979 followed by MGen Günther Greindl from May 1979 to February 1981. MGen Adolf Radauer headed the mission from September 1988 to September 1991 and the last Austrian Force Commander was MGen Wolfgang Jilke from January 2007 to February 2010.

In total more than 26.000 Austrian peacekeepers joined the mission on the Golan Heights, approximately 75 percent of them were militia.

Coming back to the present, it started on June 6, when the B-Gate was attacked by anti-governmental-armed forces in the early morning hours. A few hours later the Austrian Chancellor Mr. Werner Faymann and Vice-Chancellor Mr. Michael Spindelegger informed the public that Austria will end his mission on the Golan Heights due to the continuously deteriorating security situation on the ground and that all Austrian peacekeepers have to withdraw from the mission area within the next weeks.

On the same day the Austrian Contingent was informed by the Deputy Force Commander UNDOF BGen Stefan Thaller and the NCC AUTCON/CO AUSBATT LtCol Paul Schneider about the government's decision. Immediately afterwards the preparation of the withdrawal as well as the planning of the hand-over/take-over started.

In his farewell address on 5th July, LtCol Paul Schneider highlighted that all Austrians as well as all Austrian peacekeepers could be proud of the long Austrian tradition serving in the Golan Heights. "The efforts of dismantling and handing over responsibilities to the Fijian successors have been done in an excellent and very professional way," he stressed. "After such a long time of successful peacekeeping we leave UNDOF with a certain degree of melancholy".

In agreement with UN HQ NY some essential Austrian personnel including UNDOF HQ Staff Officers, Military Police, logistic personnel and the crew of UNDOF Position 22 will remain in the mission area until the end of July.

Goodbye AUSBATT!

- Auf Wiedersehen!