Military Service

German language media translated for TVR's Media Monitor

Not So Bad at the Bundesheer, 7 Sept.

by Peter Krobath

[…] I personally describe myself as a military-service-nostalgic, although my time in the Austrian Army was a long, boring joke with virtually no punch-lines. However, the older one gets, the more the dull is quickly forgotten and only the few jokes remain. There were hardly any, but those few were good ones.

Even my arrival was done in style. I was at the wrong barracks; meanwhile, they were looking for me at the right one. I was a Maturant [a graduate of secondary school], but too stupid to find my company? At least it was clear from the start who the idiot was. Shooting never interested me. I wanted to be among the truck drivers so that at least I would get a HGV driving license out of it. But in the end, I was a radio operator. Now I know how to run through the woods with a cable drum. And I can still set up a radio connection, but only if the old equipment is being used. Given the financial situation of Austrian national defence, I imagine it probably is.

The most important thing I ever learnt while in uniform, however, was how to dig snow caves for overnight stays in winter. At least I won’t get stressed when walking during snowfall. But only if I have a shovel, a candle and something to light it with, at hand – without those, it won’t work.


Faymann & Androsch in the Gunboat, 11. Sept.

by Barbara Blaha

[…] The [Conservative] ÖVP was for many decades an opponent of [Austria’s] neutrality, a supporter of Nato-membership and in favour of a professional army. An opinion, one did not need to agree with – yet it was consistent. In the meantime, the People’s Party has made a major U-turn – and nothing makes sense anymore. Should disaster relief and civilian service now be arguments for mandatory military service?

The ÖVP knows that disaster relief can be organised more efficiently and cost-effectivly in a different way. An expensive military force is superfluous. And we don’t need an Austrian Army, just so that a substantial number of people refuse to serve. The recent love affair of the ÖVP with civilian service is curious and yet a serious socio-political threat: We are still unwilling to invest in our social system, and instead of employing specialists with fair pay, we draft 18-year-olds.

Yet, Social Democracy has, as is so often the case, no plan whatsoever. How could it? There is no resolution creating a professional army. Traditionally, the SPÖ is in favour of mandatory military service. [Chancellor Werner] Faymann and [Defence Minister Norbert] Darabos upset the own party with their U-turn. The project is not supposed to fail because of some bothersome details. In 2010, Darabos estimated that a [professional] army would be twice as expensive as the current model. Alongside the obvious costs, such as personnel, recruiting and equipment, there would be substantial hidden ones: What to do with those, who are discharged from military service in their early 40s? In Great Britain, one quarter of homeless people are veterans of the military. Ten per cent of the inmates in U.S. prisons are former professional soldiers. And at this stage we are not even debating the costs of therapy for those physically and mentally injured during their service.


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