Strategic Assistance for Western Balkan Countries: "Regional Strategic Leadership Course" in Austria

PeopleExecutives ♦ Published: June 8, 2022; 14:33 ♦ (Vindobona)

As part of the "Regional Strategic Leadership Course," high-ranking civilian and military leaders met in Austria in early June to receive joint training in strategic decision-making. The first module of the first-ever course was held at the National Defense Academy in Vienna.

Organizing team and participants of the "Regional Strategic Leadership Course". / Picture: © Austrian Armed Forces / Photograph/Pusch

The first module of the inaugural "Regional Strategic Leadership Course" was held in Vienna in early June. High-ranking executives from the Western Balkan states met at the National Defense Academy in Vienna to train their skills in the field of strategic decision-making.

Guiding Idea

With its whole-of-government approach, the course serves as a platform for top-level leaders from participating states. In addition to providing training in whole-of-state strategic processes, it also aims to foster mutual respect and trust, the foundations for regional cooperation.


Participants include senior civilian and military leaders working at the strategic level from public administration (e.g., ministries of defense, foreign affairs, interior, and justice; offices of presidents and prime ministers; parliamentary administrations), politics (international affairs, defense, members of the National Security Council, etc.), and business and media.

A total of five participants each will be nominated from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia and Serbia, as well as two participants from Austria.

Opening with Austria's defense minister

At the end of May, Minister of Defense Klaudia Tanner and the commander of the National Defense Academy, Lieutenant General Erich Csitkovits, ceremonially opened the course at the National Defense Academy.

In addition to the high-ranking course participants, ambassadors and defense attachés of the participating countries were also present. Already on the previous day, course director, Colonel Wolfgang Baumann, welcomed the participants, followed by a lecture by defense policy director Arnold Kammel on current security policy challenges in the context of the EU.

Strategic leadership process and extensive framework program

The program included joint work on a whole-of-government strategic process in the event of a blackout, as well as visits to the Permanent Mission of Austria to the OSCE, the Federation of Austrian Industries and the Austria Institute for European and Security Policy.

The second module will take place in October in Northern Macedonia, the third module in November in Serbia. In the following years, the modules will be conducted alternately by the participating states.


The Regional Strategic Leadership Course is part of the Department of Defense's regional cooperation program with the Western Balkans. The initiative was launched on September 26, 2018, during a meeting of defense ministers from Austria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, and Serbia.

It was the first joint meeting of this kind since 2011, and the will to cooperate was most recently reaffirmed at a summit held by Defense Minister Tanner together with her counterparts from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia and Serbia in Krems on September 14, 2021.

Austrian Armed Forces