This is an original translation prepared by DAFZ researchers based on a previously published article.
The Austrian Army (Bundesheer) presents a mixed bag of successes and failures. In one area, however, the army is flourishing:
The military dog center in North Burgenland-ish Kaisersteinbruch houses one of the largest international Rottweiler kennels. More than a hundred Rottweiler are at the service of the Austrian Army (Bundesheer) to guard ammunition storage or, act as shepherd dogs, as a nose to support Austrian soldiers abroad.
On Monday, seven Rottweiler puppies were enlisted in Kaisersteinbruch. By putting on the badge, they officially join the service.
There is no need to worry about offspring, unlike in other army areas. Federal Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein and Family Minister Ines Stilling were happy sponsors for the young military dogs, as well as the acting Minister of Defense Thomas Starlinger and Hans-Peter Doskozil, ex-army minister and the Governor of Burgendland. Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen has been a Rottweiler sponsor since March. He is not only a dog lover, but as the commander-in-chief of the army also quasi supreme chief of the military dogs.
Until mid-September a “White Paper” on the situation in the army
On the other hand, there are two unequally difficult tasks for the Minister of Defense of the Transitional Government. By autumn 47 million euros in savings must be scraped together while by September a status report of the army must be created. “It will be a kind of white paper,” explains Michael Bauer, senior spokesman for the defense department of the “Wiener Zeitung”. As a basis, the current threat scenario is presented. This is followed by what tasks the armed forces can still accomplish and – most interestingly – which duties it can no longer fulfill.
At the same time, the General Staff of the Army is engaged in an equally difficult challenge. A catalog of measures must be drawn up to fill the 47 million euro gap in the budget. The army has around 2.3 billion euros available this year. In the office, you need to save – “through a wealth of individual measures”. In addition to the slimmed-down showcase of the army on the national holiday, the savings pin is also set for business trips.
At the request of the SPÖ and FPÖ, a motion for a resolution was passed in the National Council in order to bridge the greatest financial difficulties. According to this, 2.6 billion euros and 2021 three billion euros in the coming year. But this is a mistake and brings uncertainty. A motion for a resolution is by no means binding; moreover, the final budget is decided not by the interim government but by the one formed after the Parliamentary election. In addition, Starlinger’s goal is that by 2030, one percent of economic output will go to defense, with currently around 0.6 percent committed (see chart above).
Old vehicles in use
Some purchases have already been publicly presented by the predecessors. These include 32 universal all-terrain vehicles, 34 Pandur Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) and 13 refueling tankers, three armored heavy rescue vehicles for the EU Battle Group, new assault rifles and, above all, a total of 180 all-terrain trucks.
Trucks and transport demonstrate particular deficits. Some of the vehicles are already 40 years old. In the fall, there should therefore also be talks between the Minister of Defense and Finance Minister Eduard Müller, who is negotiating an agreement to buy 150 trucks.
Between being and appearance, between Sunday speeches and everyday life in the army, there are worlds when it comes to money for Austria’s army. In the on-going election campaign, the country’s defense is pushed by the hype surrounding threat of climate change and an increase in low and middle-income pensions.
The ÖVP has confirmed its plans from the turquoise-blue period which ended in May. In the future, partial fitness for compulsory military service should also be possible, as suggested by ÖVP club chairman August Wöginger. The aim is to recruit more young men for field or civilian service.
In the 60-page SPÖ election program, the army plays a completely subordinate role. Apart from the commitment to greater use of neutrality for mediator purposes, under “Security is a public task” the only mention made is: “On the other hand, the Austrian Armed Forces are called to effectively protect the federal territory from external threats.” Whether the army can actually do this will be shown in Starlinge’s condition report.