Austrian defence minister accused of causing ‘chaos’, urged to resign

On 30 April, Tanner announced the reorganisation of top-level command structures, which she said was in response to the changing security environment. Russia’s war on Ukraine recently entered its third month and had prompted a domestic debate over whether Austria should stick to its neutrality principle. [EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET]

Austria’s armed forces’ union is calling for Defence Minister Klaudia Tanner to be ousted, claiming she has rendered the armed forces leaderless since 1 May.

On 30 April, Tanner announced the reorganisation of top-level command structures, which she said was in response to the changing security environment. Russia’s war on Ukraine recently entered its third month and had prompted a domestic debate over whether Austria should stick to its neutrality principle.

“This change in the Army organisation represents a paradigm shift in the development of the Federal Army,” Tanner said at the time.

However, according to Manfred Haidinger, the president of the armed forces’ union, this reorganisation has prompted “pure chaos” and neutered the country’s defence forces in a time of need due to the governing conservative ÖVP party seeking to fill military posts with party personnel.

“Consequently, no one except Tanner and Secretary-General Kandlhofer is currently authorised to issue directives in the highest field,” he added.

“As of 1 May 2022, there is no Chief of the General Staff, no commanders of the land or air forces, and thus no commanders above the brigade and military commanders, no commander of the Armed Forces Base,” the union also warned.

“Especially in times of crisis and a war on our doorstep, the military should be ready for action. The consolidated command structures are an essential part of the operational capability. Otherwise, everything goes haywire,” Haidinger said, calling on President Alexander Van der Bellen, as the army’s supreme commander, to relieve Tanner of her post.

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