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 and Bernhard Völkl.
Cross border aerial surveillance between Austria and Switzerland
Effective February 1, air assets of Austria and Switzerland are enabled to cross the two countries’ shared border when engaged in air policing operations, i.e. for the purpose of intercepting other aircraft.
UPDATE: BOATING ACCIDENT
Public prosecutors have now decided to charge the boatman involved in the accident, a non-commissioned officer, for negligence. Based on a Bundesheer commission report on the accident as well as images and videos, the prosecutors suspect that a driving error by the boatman might have caused the accident.
Shortage of Bundesheer pilots
Referring to an unnamed internal paper, the Austrian news magazine Profil reports that there is a shortage of pilots in the Austrian forces. While this fact has been public already, the magazine substantiates it with concrete numbers: whereas 200 pilots are necessary for 24/7 readiness for national and international operations, there are currently only 151 pilots. As for the causes, the magazines refers to the cutbacks between 2007 and 2016 and the limited attractiveness of this role within the armed forces: a trade unionist associated with the military airfield Hörsching is quoted stating that, last year, 10 active pilots have switched from the military to the private sector.
Kunasek pondering a lighter footprint in the Western Balkans
Defence minister Kunasek has announced a reconsideration of the number of Austrian troops engaged in the Western Balkans over the medium term; the ultimate goal is to hand over full responsibility for security and stability to the respective countries themselves. Currently, 717 Austrians are deployed with the NATO mission in Kosovo (KFOR) and the EU mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR Althea). No final decision or timeline have been announced, however.