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Summary: 50 Years Army Medical Service in the Austrian Armed Forces of the Second Republic

Harald Harbich

In the beginning of the Austrian Armed Forces of the second republic, medical personnel were recruited from war-experienced qualified personnel. When in 1956 the medical service organisation was laid down, a model was selected which planned an independent command for the medical service. There was a medical service detachment in every company, a medical service platoon in every battalion, and a medical service company in every brigade. The army medical service had to pass its first test in the course of the crisis of 1956 in Hungary when a large tide of refugees had to be taken care of. Between 1960 and 1963 the first deployment of Austrian soldiers within the framework of UN peacekeeping forces in Congo was also carried out successfully by the army medical service.

In1962 the army medical service organisation was changed. The brigades lost their medical service companies and got field ambulances instead, and the brigade medical service institutes were transformed into army medical service institutes which were subordinated to the military regional commands. Then several international missions followed. From 1968 until 1970 a small medical service contingent was deployed in Nigeria, and from 1964 until 1973 the Austrian military hospital consisting of 54 soldiers gave medical treatment to more than 65.000 people during the UN-mission in Cyprus.

From 1969 onwards the army medical service organisation was adapted to the new threats. First, stationary infirmaries were established were the military doctor and the company’s and the battalion’s medical service personnel were on duty. Every brigade got a brigade medical service institute and a medical service company. Each medical service company instructed medical service assistants and - in case of mobilization - had to deploy both a brigade field ambulance and an ambulance car convoy. The education of higher qualified medical personnel took place at the medical service school. At the same time the army special ambulance was transferred to Stammersdorf and there became the army hospital and the army medical service department Vienna, respectively.

In spite of these successes a creeping loss of relevance of the army medical service has been detected. In 1993 a new "army medical service peace concept” was agreed upon; it was, however, not entirely implemented in the organisational structure. Finally, in 2000 an army medical service concept was decreed which is consistent both in peace and deployment, and which has blessed the Austrian Armed Forces with a progressive army medical service organisation.

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Eigentümer und Herausgeber: Bundesministerium für Landesverteidigung | Roßauer Lände 1, 1090 Wien
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