The Federal Army Commission initiated 278 complaint procedures

The Parliamentary Central Armed Forces Commission initiated 278 operations last year. Mainly they are head, deputy in matters of training, service operations, personnel and supply. Robert Leimer (SPÖ) said at a press conference on Tuesday. After 580 complaints in 2020, the number is “within the average value of annual complaints”. There were 182 after 268 in 2021 last year.

Complaints of discriminatory conduct, including inappropriate language, accommodation or organizational deficiencies, and sexual harassment cases. These things don't happen often, Lymer stressed: “But when they do, you have to act quickly and decisively.” The current case involving two female soldiers is about events at a Christmas party. The Commission “acted promptly”.

By 2023, a total of twelve official test procedures have been decided, said Friedrich Ofenauer, chairman and VP defense spokesman. In addition to the serious bodily injury caused to a 20-year-old sergeant at a decommissioning ceremony, this included the tragic case of a guard from Lower Austria being shot dead at the airfield barracks in Wiener Neustadt. The prosecution ultimately determined that the officer's shooting was self-defense. Drugs were found in the slain man's blood, Ofenauer recalled.

Reinhard Bosch, the Freedom Party's nominated leader, explained that the “big problem” is still recruiting and retaining people. Hence the Central Armed Forces Commission sees spiritual national security as an “urgent task”. It was criticized that a significant number of recruits received only “basic training in key tasks” and were instead used to guard bases or provide assistance.

Bosch described the militants as “an old problem child”. The total requirement of officers is 50 percent and the requirement of non-commissioned officers is only 40 percent. It was said that the financial incentives related to the advertisement had been exhausted. Bösch also criticized the fact that currently only 21,000 of the approximately 36,000 military personnel “must exercise” and that there is practically no ability to maintain skills on a voluntary basis. This creates leadership deficits that lead to loss of talent. Militia exercises are only possible with reduced troops. Additionally, there are still “huge gaps” when it comes to the fighters' equipment.

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As for the sector reform, which was introduced in 2022 and is still incomplete, Lymer and Bosch were skeptical that it would be completed during the current legislative term. Of the eight designated directorates, “five are still in permanent ad hoc status,” Laimer recalled. Additionally, it was set before Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, meaning in a different geopolitical situation. Bösch recommends that these be subjected to an evaluation phase after implementation to check their suitability. Ofenauer emphasized that the aim of the reform was to reduce the central office and strengthen the troops.

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