In the future, the military will cooperate with the National Guard in the US state of Vermont. Secretary of Defense Claudia Tanner (ÖVP) signed an agreement with Governor Bill Scott in Montpellier this week. This is the first “State Partnership Program” (SPP) in the United States with a neutral state. “We see it as a door opener in different areas,” Tanner said in an APA interview. He also believes in opportunities for Austrian companies.
Vermont is internationally known as the home of left-wing senator Bernie Sanders. The landlocked country on the Canadian border is actually considered rural and conservative. The Trap family, known to many Americans because of the movie “Sound of Music”, left Austria for the Nazis and settled in mountainous Vermont. Surprisingly, the joint venture was “unanimously approved” in Vermont State Capitol, Tanner told the APA.
Areas of cooperation are not yet precisely defined. According to the Ministry of Defense, the military will be able to provide new co-operation partner expertise in the Alpine region and mountain warfare. But Tanner also mentioned protection against cyber attacks. In addition to the U.S. Professional Army, there are individual National Guards in each of the 50 states who report to governors and are dispatched as needed. They are very comparable to military fighters. There are 4,000 National Guards in Vermont.
When asked about the compatibility of cooperation with Austrian neutrals, Tanner said: “I do not see anything that speaks against it.” Finally, they are cooperating with NATO within the framework of the Coalition for Peace (PfP). Working with the U.S. National Guard is a “win-win situation” that, as Tanner put it, will help the military “close the gaps of ability.”
The Secretary of Defense also pointed out that there were exchanges with the US military in the 1980s. “Now it’s being laid on a broad foundation.” A visit by the National Guard to Austria in July is already planned. Since this is a first time collaboration, they are still busy “developing a lot”. But the chemistry is right. “We chose the right partner. It became clear during the visit.”
Tanner has been in the United States since Sunday, where he has appointments at the Pentagon. There he met with Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, who spoke with him about the current situation in Ukraine. Other topics include climate change and its impact on the military and the role of women. The conversation also took place with General Daniel Hoganson, commander of the U.S. National Guard. Focused on future partnership design.
In connection with the Austrian commitment to Mali, Tanner said the military would remain “in the current perspective” until the end of June. At this point, the post of commander of the Austrian Christian Rainer ends. How to conduct EU training in Mali will be discussed at next week’s meeting of EU defense ministers.
Tanner also commented on the change of government that took place during his stay abroad. “Continuity was confirmed immediately and the decision was made quickly,” Tanner said, considering the new appointments. Future Minister of Agriculture Norbert Totschnig (ÖVP) “I have known for a long time. He is talented and will do it better”. At the same time, he countered rumors that he should have been the new agriculture minister. Such speculations may have arisen “by my last activity”, the longtime president of the Lower Austrian Farmers’ Association.
(Conversation led by Stephen Vospernik / APA)
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