On April 10, 2019, Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan welcomed the Austrian Federal Minister of Defense Mario Kunasek to the Pentagon for consultations.
”Austria has demonstrated a continuing commitment to global peace and stability”, stated Secretary Shanahan. The leaders discussed a broad range of defense issues, including efforts to address shared security challenges presented by China and Russia, and Austria's leadership role for stability and EU-integration efforts in the Western Balkan countries. They agreed to continue working together to further enhance training opportunities between the U.S. and Austrian militaries and increase contributions to European and regional security.
Minister Kunasek also met with the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Joseph Lengyel at the Pentagon. The two agreed upon the initiation of a permanent partnership between the Austrian Armed Forces and the U.S. National Guard. Besides, they discussed current domestic missions like border management operations in Austria as well as in the United States.
Minister Kunasek also met with the Under Secretary of the Navy, Thomas Modly to arrange for an exchange of cadets between the Austrian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. In addition, they explored options to offer military mountain training activities in Austria to members of the U.S. Marine Corps.
On the following day, Mario Kunasek visited the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. After an introductory briefing by UN Ambassador Jan Kickert, Minister Kunasek met with the Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, about ongoing UN Peacekeeping Operations with a main focus on Africa.
On April 12, 2019, Minister Kunasek arrived in El Paso, Texas on the final leg of his tour: He visited the NCO Center of Excellence in Fort Bliss to initiate the participation of Austrian non-commissioned officers at the U.S. Army Sergeant Major Course from 2020 onwards.
On the last day, Minister Kunasek visited ports of entry between the United States and Mexico to get an on-site impression about the border management efforts of the U.S. authorities at the South Western border.
First set of photos (c) U.S. Department of Defense/U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith, more on flickr
All other photos (c) Austrian Federal Ministry of Defense