Paradigm shift in the armed forces development of the Austrian Armed Forces

Philipp Eder


Global trends and as security-political developments with their consequences, which are perceptible in Austria as well, have led to a paradigm shift in both task formulation and armed forces development of the Austrian Armed Forces (AAF). The following analysis by the Austrian Federal Government is reflected in the concrete military-strategic adaptations: New security-political developments pose new challenges for the Austrian security policy. This can be seen in increasing dangers by hybrid threats, international terrorism, or in connection with mass migrations followed by dangers for social peace and social cohesion. Because of wars, destabilisation and lacking perspectives for great parts of the population in Europe it can be assumed that Austria’s security will be endangered for an unforeseeable timespan. This essay describes some of the basics and effects of this paradigm shift, examining the security-political developments and outlining the armed forces development resulting from it. The depicted challenges require the capability of rapid command and control procedures in all operational conditions from the military strategic management, from the new command levels of the higher tactical commands (land, air, logistics, as well as command and control and cyber defence), and from the territorial commands. From the individual soldier up to the brigade level, standby, rapidly available forces, capable of acting - depending on the situation - logistically independently, self-subsistently and resiliently. As can be seen internationally, the capability of having forces and resources of different services cooperate in space and time remains basically on the brigade level. The future character of missions at home and abroad, however, increasingly requires the capability of a battalion, and in particular cases even of a company, of commanding different services according to demand, mandate and/or allocation of relevant capabilities, limited in time and space and independently. The imponderabilities of the development of the strategic situation, the expectable significant technological developments as well as the cooperation orientation maxim require high innovation and action flexibility. For this reason, it is necessary that the Austrian Armed Forces increasingly get involved in defence research, international organisations and other national and international institutions, and to enhance the development of capabilities within international co-operations. The capability of self-subsistent exploration of the relevant technological innovations relevant for the military is also to be improved. Additionally, the training of military leaders has to remain as comprehensive and manifold as possible. Fighting in the form of having forces and resources of different services cooperate in space and time will remain the core competency and unique characteristic of the Austrian Armed Forces. The service spectrum of the Austrian Armed Forces is and will be voluminous.