Call for longer military service to cope with refugees

Austria’s new defence minister Hans Peter Doskozil (SPÖ) has said that he wants to extend the length of basic military service to help the army cope with the influx of refugees and migrants.

Call for longer military service to cope with refugees
Soldiers put up tents for refugees. File photo: ORF

He told Austrian state broadcaster ORF that it was a necessary step in order to guarantee the “sustainability” of the army. He added that resources would become stretched if troops are required to patrol Austria’s ‘green border’ crossings that don’t have check points.

Military service was shortened from eight to six months in 2006. Doskozil did not say how long he thought military service should be extended by but said that if there was general agreement within the army “that it would make sense, then we will implement it”.

Last year the army’s Chief of Staff Othmar Commenda said an extension of military service would be a “worst case scenario”, and former defence minister Gerald Klug said that he did not think it was necessary.

Doskozil was appointed defence minister earlier this month. He was formerly Burgenland's police director and rose to prominence during the refugee crisis last year.

All Austrian men aged 18 to 50 must complete compulsory basic recruit training for six months. If a man objects for conscientious reasons he must complete nine months of civil service.

Around 22,000 men are drafted into military service each year.

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