Anti-terror exercises marred by 'lack of kit'
Soldiers in Vienna have been carrying out anti-terrorism training exercises this week - but a report in the Kurier newspaper says that the majority of them didn’t have proper combat helmets or vehicles, and had problems with their radio equipment.
Austria’s army is being drastically restructured in an effort to cut costs and some regiments are so poor they can’t afford fuel or transport.
A total of 800 soldiers set up checkpoints and stormed buildings and ships in the Lobau, at the Donaustadt and Freudenau power plants, Vienna port and the Siemens building this week, searching for imaginary terror suspects.
Police officers also participated in exercises designed to test how the military and police can work together to provide security for potential targets.
The Kurier reports that 600 soldiers from Vienna’s special forces battalion had to borrow combat helmets from other troops and use an old Pinzgauer army vehicle that had already been put up for sale. The newspaper quoted sources who said that although the soldiers were “highly motivated” morale was low because of the lack of equipment.
Defence Minister Gerald Klug is currently negotiating with the People’s Party for an extra €26 million in funding for the purchase of modern protective equipment.
On Wednesday Vienna mayor Michael Häupl said that the army is crucial for maintaining the security of Vienna’s roads, waterways and flight paths.
Military commander Kurt Wagner said that the training of troops and police would be staggered so that there was always sufficient manpower to protect sensitive facilities.
Austria is increasingly viewed as a danger zone for terrorist recruitment and jihadist activitiy by Islamic religious extremists.