Essential education for armed forces and soldiers

Klaus Zapotoczky


The pioneer and excellent UNESCO-Report “Learning ability: our hidden wealth”, which offers educational perspectives for the 21st century, was drawn up by a prominent commission led by Jacques Delors and contains many landmark aspects modern armed forces, and especially armed forces oriented towards democracy, which are based on general compulsory military service for all men and on a (broadly designed) militia system, must not neglect. Maria Theresia already identified the importance of compulsory school attendance for the development of Austria’s society and achieved an educational thrust. Today - and this is shown in the UNESCO-Report - the demands on education have become even more important and comprehensive, and every social class ought to take this challenge seriously and make something out of it. Education in its various forms itself must not only be designed optimally. On the contrary, it will be of decisive importance if and how we succeed on the local, regional, national and European levels to link and network education with other areas of life such as politics, economy, health, religion, etc. If “schools”, “universities”, “academic institutions” and “European armed forces” want to be places of comprehensive education and permanent learning, comprising all pillars of education, they will also have to be places of understanding and of social relationships. In schools, universities and armed forces friendships have developed time and again, which have lasted for lifetimes. One can only hope that these „future schools” will become places where friendships can develop and deepen, and where at the same time knowledge can be learned, tolerance practised, and conflicts settled peacefully, and that these schools will not become places of knowledge drill or of competition for stereotyped thinking, but dynamic nuclei of a new Europe instead. The European soldier of the future will have to be an athletic fighter, a military mediator and a peace mediator simultaneously, for otherwise the world will not need European armed forces any longer. Future European armed forces will not only have to be military-technically extremely well trained forces, but they will have to internalize attitudes corresponding with the existing European-style humanism as well.