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Defence Attaché Operations

Duties, function and services of the Defence Attachés

Crisis resistant and alliance-independent network, information procurement and evaluation

The Defence Attachés (DAs) build a crisis resistant and alliance-independent network that is focused on the needs of Swiss security policy and our armed forces, run and ensure its performance and effective development. This network is also the merit of the DAs and prerequisite for their further activities. It is based on their direct access to the defence ministries and general staffs. Such access is important for recognising crises at an early stage, mastering them and for bilateral cooperation.

If critical developments arise, the DA is able to fathom the options of his accredited states, assess the consequences for Switzerland and bring in the interests of Switzerland at an early stage or draw attention to developments that are contrary to the wishes of Switzerland. Willingness to share information is an expression of confidence that can only be established and maintained through permanent contacts.

As Switzerland has made agreements with many states to protect military information, experience shows that the willingness to share even confidential information amongst partners is much greater than with the media.

Relationship management 

For mastering most threats and dangers Switzerland depends on cooperation with foreign partners.

Contributions of the Chief of the Armed Forces towards implementation of military training cooperation and towards cooperation directives

For Switzerland the ability to cooperate is an essential requirement for maintaining political and military freedom of manoeuvre and solidarity.

Basic and progressive training abroad and exchange of operational experienc

To ensure that basic and progressive training of Swiss officers meet the military requirements abroad, the scope of our training must be continually evaluated. Because of the access to the permanent administrative bodies abroad or training institution commands, the DA is able to enhance Switzerland's use of future offers not only through his knowledge of courses that can be obtained from the internet anyway, but also because he is informed on the current status of planning.

Direct contacts at a high level

The Defense Attaché as Escort Officer
Official visit of the President of the Swiss Confederation, Alain Berset and Mrs. Muriel Zeender Berset, to Austria. © HBF/Karlovits.

Direct contacts and exchange of experience between political and military leaders are of central importance for safeguarding security policy and military interests. These include the contacts of the head of the DDPS and the Chief of the Armed Forces, but also contacts and staff talks on planning operations, armament, etc.

Consultation of the head of mission

As a specialist the DA is integrated into the respective embassy. In this function he provides security policy and military support in the embassy’s assessment of situation and risks and safeguarding of interests on location. 

Stationing of Defence Attachés

The following criteria and requirements for allocating attachés to their posts result from the interests of Swiss security policy and the armed forces:

  • The information requirements of DDPS and armed forces for early recognition of threats to security policy and military interests and as prerequisite for relations management
  • The cooperation needs of DDPS and armed forces, as well as
  • The management of crises and conflicts that have an effect on Switzerland and of environmental and disasters related to our civilisation.

The defence attaché

Interview Defense Attaché Cairo

The service of a defence attaché is not a career in the sense of the DFA, where young people join after completing their studies and can obtain experience during various deployments in Switzerland and abroad.

Due to the great visibility of the DA abroad immediately after their service begins the job profile demands both professional and life experience as well as a broad military experience. Furthermore the tolerance for mistakes is small from the very start.

These facts explain the importance of training and also impose high standards.

Social competence

  • Interactive and communicative skills
  • Team player and leadership qualities
  • Interest in other cultures
  • Openness towards change
  • Flexibility and ability to improvise
  • Good physical and mental health and resilience
  • Ability to question him or herself
  • Authentic personality.


Professional competence

  • Good general knowledge
  • Good understanding of Swiss security policy and the armed forces
  • Officer’s rank (colonel or lieutenant colonel)
  • Completes studies or completed apprenticeship with further education
  • Several years of professional experience
  • Broad military experience
  • Knowledge of languages (level in English: Certificate in Advanced English)
  • Command of a second national language (German, French, Italian).



Military attaché training takes several months and makes use of recent findings in adult education, focuses on a broad concept of security and takes in particular the individual needs of those being trained into account.


Armed Forces Staff International Relations
Defence Attaché Operations
Papiermühlestrasse 20
3003 Berne
+41 58 483 82 73
+41 58 463 34 71


Armed Forces Staff

International Relations
Defence Attaché Operations
Papiermühlestrasse 20
3003 Berne