How much money does the Bundesheer need?

The need for an Austrian military doctrine

Andreas W. Stupka

The year 2020 will probably go down in Austrian history as one of the most difficult times since the end of the Cold War. Measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic have turned social life around in a way that has not been conceivable until then for the ordinary citizen, who until now had little to deal with crises and disaster scenarios. But these events have also harmed the economy to such an extent that it is not so easy to return to normality. In addition, large sums of money must be pumped into ailing economic development in order to revive it. However, this almost certainly requires savings in other areas of government spending. It must therefore be presumed that, in the near future, no, at least substantial, investment, may be made in the area of defence expenditure by the Republic of Austria, provided that they concern the design of an efficient national defence. However, this seems dramatic in that in 2019 the Bundesheer under the then Minister of The Department, Mag. Thomas Starlinger, had pointed out in a previously unseen clarity his lack of commitment with regard to the constitutional mandate for military national defense. The question of how much money the Federal Army actually needs for the purposes of military national defense can therefore only be answered by a corresponding political assessment, which is based on a briefview of all elements of the military system. From this, the policy has to draw up a concept in which it is clearly expressed for which purposes, on the basis of the military claim, a federal army should be used, set up and equipped, i.e. how the military national defense should be structured in principle. Subsequently, an evaluation phase to define the time horizons for the achievement of the target and a financial framework plan must be drawn up in order to subsequently pour this into a national defence plan, similar to the procedure taken during the Cold War. In general, it would be possible to use this national defence plan as a basis, to revise it and to adapt it in order to document continuity in the Austrian development of security policy and to dissolve the confusion of concepts. For the military, in any case, the military doctrine then ordered should be regarded as a politically coordinated and binding basis. It would therefore be wrong to provide the army with a certain amount of money without these foundations, because it would be too much or too little - it would be money thrown out without a targeted provision. If, after an in-depth assessment, only a certain amount of money can still be made available, but which is not enough to carry out all tasks accordingly, then the policy must limit the scope of the tasks, but at least once again give clear guidelines. Otherwise, there is a risk that all prescribed tasks will be tackled and that none will be achieved accordingly. The Bundesheer would therefore be an unfinished piecemeal work - far from the claim of functioning armed forces - and it would come to exactly the very discussion that we currently find in Austria. It does not matter whether a principled or adaptive approach is chosen as access. What is essential is the clearly formulated requirement of what national defence must be able to achieve in the specific security situation. Only in this way can a viable bridge be built to bridge the gap between the different views and thus give the entire population an honest sense of security.