Motorists be warned: Those travelling on Austria’s highways in June and early July may find themselves sharing the road with a large convoy of military vehicles. Headed for the Balkans and Black Sea region, the mixed international forces will be travelling by “road, rail, ship and plane” to and from two major U.S.-led military exercises.
The rehearsals are designed to “improve the integration of multinational combat forces,” according the U.S. Army Europe’s website, and “demonstrate the strategic employment of the U.S. Global Response Forces and validate U.S. European Command’s ability to send high readiness forces into a designated area while advancing airborne interoperability among NATO allies.”
The first, “Saber Guardian”, will involve some 400 vehicles and 1,500 troops who will be sharing the A1 and A10 sometime between May 29 – June 29, as they head down to Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, and then again on their return trip. Similarly for the exercise “Swift Response 19”, 500 British soldiers in 243 military vehicles will be heading to and coming back from the Balkans sometime between May 29 and July 5.
The transit agreement is based on the 2001 Troop Residency Law, as reported in the daily Die Presse, and approved by the ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, with the costs of the entire exercise to be borne by the respective armies.
To minimum effects on civilian traffic, special measures have been taken to avoid traffic jams, according to the defense ministry. Saber Guardian will see no more than eight columns per day with no more than 20 vehicles each, while “Swift Response 19” will have no more than 15 columns of up to 20 vehicles each. Convoys will obey traffic rules and only stop at military installations – avoiding congestion at the rest stops.