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Austria Military
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General

The main branches of the Austrian Armed Forces ("Bundesheer") are Joint Forces (Streitkräfteführungskommando, SKFüKdo) which consist of Land Forces (Landstreitkräfte), Air Forces (Luftstreitkräfte), International Missions (Internationale Einsätze), and Special Forces (Spezialeinsatzkräfte); next to Mission Support (Kommando Einsatzunterstützung; KdoEU) and Command Support (Kommando Führungsunterstützung; KdoFüU). In 2004, Austria expends about 0.9% of its GDP for defence. The Army currently has about 45,000 soldiers, of which about half are conscripts. As head of state, Austrian President (currently Heinz Fischer) is nominally the Commander-in-Chief of the Bundesheer. In practical reality, however, command of the Austrian Armed Forces is almost exclusively exercised by the Minister of Defence, currently Norbert Darabos.

With the end of the Cold War, and more importantly the removal of the former heavily guarded 'Iron Curtain' separating Austria and Hungary, the Austrian military have been assisting Austrian border guards in trying to prevent border crossings by illegal immigrants. This assistance will come to an end when Hungary joins the EU Schengen area in 2008, for all intents and purposes abolishing 'internal' border controls between treaty states. Some politicians have called for a prolongation of this mission, but the legality of this is heavily disputed. In accordance with the Austrian constitution, armed forces may only be deployed in a limited number of cases, mainly to defend the country and aid in cases of national emergencies, such as in the wake of natural disasters etc. They may generally not be used as auxiliary police forces.

Despite, or perhaps because of, its self-declared status of permanent neutrality, Austria has a long and proud tradition of engaging in UN-led peacekeeping and other humanitarian missions. The Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit (AFDRU), in particular, an all-volunteer unit with close ties to civilian specialists (rescue dog handlers, etc) enjoys a reputation as a quick (standard deployment time is 10 hours) and efficient SAR unit. Currently, larger contingents of Austrian forces are deployed in Bosnia, Kosovo and, since 1974, on the Golan Heights

Overview

Military branches:
Land Forces (KdoLdSK), Air Forces (KdoLuSK)

Military service age and obligation:
18-35 years of age for compulsory military service; 16 years of age for male or female voluntary service; service obligation 7 months of training, followed by an 8-year reserve obligation (2006)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 1,914,800
females age 18-49: 1,870,134 (2005 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 1,550,441
females age 18-49: 1,515,365 (2005 est.)

Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males age 18-49: 48,967
females age 18-49: 46,633 (2005 est.)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
0.9% (2005 est.)