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Army without officers - captain wanted

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Almost every fourth officer position is vacant. The President of the Officers' Society warns of a «grounding of the army».

The army reform has been running since the beginning of the year. And it has already been shown that she is coming under pressure on one important point: among the offspring of officers. It seems that young Swiss can still be motivated to a certain extent up to platoon driver level. But that is the lowest officer level. With the next higher rank, the militarily important captain, there is a problem.

The commander of a tank company writes in the Swiss Army magazine that, despite the excellent corps spirit, it was "almost impossible" to find someone for the captain level. The army leadership clearly missed “to make continuing at a higher level more attractive”.

Every fourth position is vacant

For Stefan Holenstein, President of the Swiss Officers' Society, the captains are one of the most important elements in the army: “They provide the commanders and staff officers. The army needs them to ensure the command capability of the units. If these are missing, we can forget about the mission. "

Since 2005 the army has had a serious shortage of captains and staff officers. Although the deficiency has been known for a long time, the leadership apparently could not turn things around. New figures based on official information from the army show: As of June 1, 674 positions at captain level could not be filled. This means that almost every fourth position is vacant.

The vacancies exist, although the army has reduced the target stock considerably with the reform (to 2,895 captains) and now even shows an excess on paper. Obviously, certain functions are overrepresented, others underrepresented. An army spokesman explains this as an effect of the ongoing reform, which will "level off by means of natural fluctuations and targeted control measures".

Federal Councilor Parmelin: "So far I don't see a problem"

Federal Councilor Guy Parmelin (SVP) said to the «Rundschau»: «So far I don't see any problem. We are at the beginning of the reform. It takes a little time. We have some teething troubles. You have to correct that. "

The defense minister explains the difficult initial situation by saying that times have changed. “Today young people spend more time with their families, women work, society has evolved. You have to adapt. But an army à la carte is not possible. "

The army itself officially sees no problem either. In a - as yet unpublished - report on the implementation of the reform for the attention of Parliament's security commissions, she describes the management situation as "satisfactory". The requirements could have been "met by the majority". And the important company commanders were "just available in the necessary number".

«Army only on paper»

The officers do not share the official composure. The President of the Officers' Society criticizes the attitude in the report. The situation is more dramatic than the army portrays it. Stefan Holenstein says: "We can't sit out the problem."

Holenstein even warns of “grounding the army”: “In the worst case, we fear that the implementation of the army reform will not succeed. That the army will no longer be operational, but will only exist on paper. " Holenstein calls for immediate action, including shorter practical training for captains.

It is difficult for outsiders to assess who is ultimately right in assessing the situation. It is undisputed that the cadre situation is getting worse because every year a number of officers switch to community service. New figures show that 174 officers have switched to community service in the last three years (2015-2017), including one major. There were also 1,093 NCOs and higher NCOs.

Officers' degrees

lieutenant
The lieutenant is the lowest officer grade.
First lieutenantThe first lieutenant is usually a platoon leader.
CaptainOften a captain has the function of a company or a battery commander.
majorIn the headquarters of a battalion in various functions
Lieutenant colonelCommander of a battalion
ColonelWas formerly the regimental commander
BrigadierBrigade commander
Divisional officerCommander of a Territorial Division
Corps commanderHighest rank of the Swiss Army in peacetime
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  • Comment from Simon Reber (kokolorix)
    The army does not lack a few good officers, the army lacks a solid basis for its existence. Since the Warsaw Pact landed on the rubbish heap of history, the army leadership has not been able to outline a comprehensible threat which an army could repel with tanks, jets and assault rifles. The real threat is environmental degradation and asset concentration. Neither of these can stop even the best army ...
    Agree agree to the comment
    1. answer from Jürg Brauchli (Rondra)
      If someone cannot and does not want to understand and see a threat, that does not mean that it does not exist! And the army has nothing to do with the fact that the environmental destruction is increasing by more and more people with no education and no sense of responsibility. You can counter this in other ways and means in voting.
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. Show answers
  • Comment from Steff Stemmer (Steff)
    How nice that would be: imagine it's war and nobody goes!
    Agree agree to the comment
    1. answer from Michel Koller (Mica)
      Only the war takes place with the people and not where you have the option not to have to go.
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. answer from martin blättler (bruggegumper)
      You should read the whole text. Brecht writes, "Then the war will come to you ...".
      Agree agree to the comment
    3. Show answers
  • Comment from Steff Stemmer (Steff)
    The "dear old" military, like many other things, is subject to the sacred returns and profitability! In my time you could get a job at almost every large company or in the military without a great professional record, if you were an officer or a higher UOF. Those days are over today, many companies are not happy about all the absences and office work for the military during working hours.
    Agree agree to the comment

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