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Austria, Switzerland hold joint military exercises

Switzerland and Austria are staging week-long joint military exercises to test cross-border anti-terrorism efforts.

This content was published on November 10, 1999 - 08:39

Switzerland and Austria are staging week-long joint military exercises to test cross-border anti-terrorism efforts.

Swiss Defence Minister Adolf Ogi (left)and his Austrian counterpart Werner Fasslabend (right)described the “Rhine Valley 99” manoeuvres as an exercise for peace by two neutral countries in similar strategic conditions.

The manoeuvres in the Vorarlberg region involve 500 soldiers, officers and top brass from both armies, which are operating under a scenario of a series of terrorist acts that have been carried out in Austria and Switzerland. A partial mobilisation has been ordered by both nations and the military must now tackle such issues as refugees, terrorist attacks and low-intensity warfare.

Ogi underlined that the exercises, which will last until Friday, are in line with Switzerland’s policy of “Security through cooperation.”

Switzerland is not a member of NATO but currently has a SWISSCOY military unit working alongside Austrian troops in Kosovo.

Austrian and Swiss generals said it was important to regularly stage exercises in order to be ready to for an emergency. “We need to learn to speak a common language and develop a military routine,” said Swiss corps commander Ulrico Hess at Tuesday’s start of the “Rhine Valley 99” operation.

Swiss and Austrian troops have staged at least five such exercises over the past 13 years.

From staff and wire reports.

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