Subject: Pooling&Sharing and Mountain Training Initiative
General, what should we understand by Pooling&Sharing and Mountain Training Initiative? What are the goals you want to achieve with this initiative?
In December 2012, Austria took over, based on an EU request, the lead role for the military mountain training sector as part of the European pooling and sharing initiative. Since then, all activities within this sector are referred to the term “Pooling & Sharing (P&S) Mountain Training Initiative or MTI”.
P&S MTI is an EU-wide initiative within the CSDP and is focusing on the provision of mountain and mountain combat training. It is based on three pillars: coordination, standardization, and lessons identified/lessons learned (LI/LL).
The “coordination pillar” tries to coordinate mountain and mountain combat training, including training areas. This coordination is currently being conducted by Austria; as of 2015, the coordination task will rotate among the MTI member states. Coordination will be discussed in conferences or on an internet platform (www.mti.bmlvs.gv.at).
The “standardization pillar” aims at harmonizing the European “landscape of courses” related to MTI. As a first step, we will try to make the contents of such courses comparable, thus enabling students to e.g. start a course in Italy and finish it in Austria.
Finally, the “LI/LL pillar” is meant to be used as a basis for the exchange of experiences made during operations, exercises and trainings, and as a forum for discussions on these topics. However, we will leave it to the member states how and to what extent they are willing to implement the results thereof.
In fact, the aim of P&S MTI is a closer military cooperation between the nations.
The Austrian Armed Forces have been working on this topic in the form of a project group for quite a while now. Which are the nations you have been cooperating with and what are the special challenges the project group has to meet?
The starting conference of November 2013 was visited by members of Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and of courses Austria as the host nation. Due to the different legal rules and regulations and the various programs of the partner nations, the special challenge will be to elaborate a contract that enables simple, subject-related and target-oriented multinational cooperation.
What is so unique in the mountain training of the Austrian Armed Forces that other nations are only able to learn it from us? Or, the other way round, what are the things Austria cannot achieve on its own, but still needs to get from other nations, also in terms of training?
Austria has a high competence in mountain and mountain combat training. Our training is highly recognized in other states – a fact that is proven by the high number students from abroad, but also by the positive feedback we get from soldiers of other nations during international operations.
Besides our competence, our training areas are also of interest for the EU. Thus, France, even though covering parts of the Western Alps, is showing big interest in our mountain-based live firing ranges.
We offer these areas to foreign armies in order to get from them other, non-mountain-related special training in exchange. Besides that, we are of course also interested in the exchange of experiences, especially as to real-life mountain operations conducted e.g. in Afghanistan – experiences that will allow us to draw conclusions without having taken part in such operations.
Have you already received requests from other nations? If so, how were such requests forwarded?
In March this year, a platoon of the Belgian Army deployed to the Seetaler Alpe Training and Live Firing Area where they conducted a reconnaissance and a live firing exercise. The request was forwarded by telephone via the internationally defined “points of contact”. After clearing the details and checking the availability of the requested capacities, the official request was finally forwarded via the attaché channels.