Two Weeks in Austrian Defence | Nov 19

In Blog, English, Uncategorized by Bernhard Völkl

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!

Criminal charges brought against alleged former Russian spy

Criminal charges have finally been brought against a former Bundesheer officer who stands accused of having spied for Russia’s GRU since 1993. The septuagenarian has spent a year in pre-trial detention since his case has come to light in late 2018. 

Subsequent investigations have rocked the Austro-Russian relationship, and Austrian authorities have placed the accused’s alleged handler Igor Egorovich Zaytsev on top of their wanted persons list.

Bundesheer helping restore Jewish cemetery

Austrian Armed Forces personnel have been seconded to help restore a Jewish cemetery in Vienna. A platoon of engineers and Guardsmen are helping to cut trees, restore footpaths to being passable, and straighten tombstones.

Military dogs kill handler

Two Belgian Sheperds attacked and killed a military dog handler in Wiener Neustadt. The Bundesheer keeps around 70 service dogs for various purposes, with its Kaisersteinbruch Military Dogs Facility being the largest Rottweiler breeding institution in the world.

A commission has been formed to further investigate the soldier’s death.

EURAD2019 – exercise in Austria

Units assigned to 2020s EU Battle Group II are currently training on various military installations in Upper and Lower Austria. The 2.300 personnel are undergoing the first of two steps to become certified and designated mission-ready. 

Official sources describe EUBGs as ‘[…] multinational, military units, usually composed of 1500 personnel each and form an integral part of the European Union’s military rapid reaction capacity to respond to emerging crises and conflicts around the world.‘

Units from different member states are called up at an interval of six months, forming a temporary formation. With decisions of their deployment having to be made unanimously, EUBGs have not seen service since their inception in 2007.

 

Disaster relief

Following heavy precipitation in Austria’s alpine regions, Bundesheer forces have been called up.  Two helicopters were used to clear structures in Osttirol from heavy, wet snow and to survey the situation, while a platoon of soldiers is helping clear debris and mud after heavy rain in Salzburg.

 

Header image: Bundesheer/Harald Minich

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About the Author

Bernhard Völkl

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Bernhard is a reserve officer in the Austrian Armed Forces and works in the technology industry.

About the Author
Chiara Libiseller

Chiara Libiseller

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Chiara Libiseller is a doctoral candidate and Teaching Assistant at the War Studies Department, King’s College London. Her research traces the evolution of contemporary military concepts to understand broader patterns and fashions in the ways Anglo-American scholars and military professionals study and understand war. Her broad interests include military strategy, military history as well as Austrian and European defence.