TWIAD is your bi-weekly, English-language briefing on national security and defence affairs in the alpine republic. The most relevant news reports, press releases, articles and announcements are recapped and, where necessary, put into context for greater accessibility. Feel free to get in touch and leave us your feedback and thoughts, ask questions in the comments or join the #TWIAD raucity on Twitter!
This article has been co-authored by Chiara Libiseller, doctoral student at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London, and Bernhard Völkl.
Update: CBRN SaaS project
On November 19, the Council of the EU has adopted 17 new PESCO projects. Among them is CBRN SaaS (“Surveillance as a Surveillance”), a common project by Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic (the CEDC states) as well as, in contrast to earlier reports, France. Aiming to increase reconnaissance capabilities for chemical, radiological, nuclear and biological agents, the project is expected to achieve operational capability by 2020. In sum, Austria is now participating in 5 of 34 PESCO projects.
Update: Former Bundesheer officer accused of spying for Russia
A retired Bundesheer officer charged with spying for the Russian Federation has again been taken into pre-trial detention on November 30. The Higher Regional Court Linz has allowed the public prosecutor’s appeal against a release, based on the persisting danger of him committing a crime (Tatbegehungsgefahr).
The former officer, who denies any wrongdoing, is charged with having shared secret information with the Russian Federation from 1992 until September 2018. The charges brought against the 70 year old are the support of a secret intelligence service to the disadvantage of Austria (§ 256 StGB, Geheimer Nachrichtendienst zum Nachteil Österreichs), passing on state secrets to foreign powers or institutions (§ 252 Abs 1 StGB, Verrats von Staatsgeheimnissen) and the willful divulgence of military secrets (§ 26 Abs 2 Militärstrafgesetz, Vorsätzlichen Preisgabe eines militärischen Geheimnisses). Due to the nature of these charges, the proceedings’ details remain classified.
Update: Reform of the community service
The reform of the community service suggested by the government has been accepted by the parliamentary committee in charge of home affairs on November 29. The suggested changes in the wording of the law can be traced here.
New “security school” to replace military boarding school
On November 27, the Ministry of Defence unveiled detailed plans for a vocational secondary level school with a focus on security and leadership. The school is supposed to be a training ground for future armed forces officers, but also prepare students for other careers in public service and/or international organisations. The school offers boarding and day school options and will open its doors in September 2019, with the first graduation scheduled for summer 2024.
Final report on boating accident during recruiting event
After the capsizing of an engineer boat during a recruiting event left two women critically injured, the Bundesheer commission tasked with investigating the accident presented its report on November 28. Unnoticed by helpers, the two women were caught under the capsized boat for 39 resp, 45 minutes according to the report; six more were swiftly recovered. The boatman, a non-commissioned officer, reportedly could have avoided the accident, but was overtaxed by the situation. He remains on duty, with public prosecutors still determining whether to charge him for negligent physical injury.
Procurement: New precision rifles and housing for the Jagdkommando
On Nov 23, Soldiers of the Bundesheer‘s special forces, the Jagdkommando, were the first to receive new medium precision rifles, a batch of Steyr M1 (mSSG 08 A1). Chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum (8.6×70) and outfitted with a Kahles 24i scope, the rifle has an effective range of 1,200m. It occupies the middling position between a ‘heavy’ 12.7mm system (2000m), and a new system of ‘light’ 7.62mm rifles (800m), all set to replace the venerable SSG69 in its 50th year of service. Both new systems are projected for delivery in 2019, with the Jagdkommando enjoying priority over the more conventional Bundesheer formations.
Part of an effort to concentrate all Jagdkommando assets in one location, a new housing/administrative building was opened on the same day. First requested in 1986, construction started in 2016. The building contains administrative offices, training facilities as well as accommodation for service personnel.
With major acquisitions few and far between, the Bundesheer took the opportunity to announce the news in a short clip:
Header image: Bundesheer/Pusch
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