Vienna . It is a bleak picture that draws Thomas Starlinger of the future of the Austrian army. And the new Minister of Defense is making drastic comparisons: "It's like a big tree the beaver has nibbled on in recent years. Now the tree is so far that it tilts. "This means, as Starlinger directly says: If not more funds are made available to the army, it will be broke next year. By 2020, only operating and staffing costs would "break the budget line."
At an appointment with journalists, the Minister of Defense of the Transitional Government sets out to Bierlein what the consequences would be: "Then there is no more money for fuel, for overtime or ammunition. "Even his electricity or water bills could then no longer pay Austria's military. Applied to a private household, this means: "I have no more money for the car inspection at the car. And the storeroom is empty. "
" I'm in good spirits "
Despite this devastating forecast, Starlinger also tries to be optimistic:" It's good fortune to be able to avert this situation. The minister wants to contribute with a status report, which is to be prepared now and submitted in September. "It will show in detail what framework conditions are required to ensure the protection of the population in the future." It will specify the investment with which Austria could prevent which risk.
The report should also be clearly described How much money is needed, says Starlinger. He did not want to give a precise sum in advance. That was not serious.
The Transitional Minister made it clear that he would not make political decisions during his term of office. This also refers to any changes in the planned purchase of new helicopters or the successor models of the Saab 105 aircraft, which must be put out of service soon. The Saab 105 jets are currently used on the one hand as a training aircraft for pilots who are later to fly the technically complicated Eurofighter. On the other hand, the aircraft, which are much cheaper to operate, support Eurofighters in airspace surveillance.
Saving on foreign missions
What the minister wants to do, however: his employees should prepare detailed tender documents for future type decisions. "These documents will then get the future Secretary of Defense on the table to make decisions quickly."
Starlinger had last caused a stir with his announcement that the foreign missions of the army in the future could be reduced. He himself will only do "basic work" here, he now specifies. It would then be up to the political decision-makers to decide on the form in which they would continue the missions and how much they wanted to invest in their foreign policy ambitions.
Austria spent 70 million euros annually on foreign missions. Of this amount, 47 million euros will go to the missions in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, 16 million euros to the mission in Lebanon. The remainder is split up into smaller operations, such as in Mali or Afghanistan. These are variable costs, which could save the easiest, says the Minister of Defense.
"No need for school"
Starlinger also revisits the security school in Wiener Neustadt. The idea was born by his predecessor Mario Kunasek. Starlinger wanted to get out of the € 30 million project. Because the largest parliamentary parties have campaigned for the continuation and it was promised that the costs will not be at the expense of the federal budget, Starlinger now holds at the school.
With his opinion, but he still does not keep behind the mountain: "Is there a need for this school? No. "For a career as an officer in the army, it would take the Matura in any school. And then succeed in the further selection in the army.
("Die Presse", print edition, 19.06.2019)