The Bundesheer at War

The Bundesheer at War

The Bundesheer at War
with Ian Birdwell
Austria's Bundesheer is an army we’ve seen mentioned in passing in several of the books describing World War Three in Team Yankee, but it is a force we’ve not seen in action directly. In our timeline the Bundesheer’s goal was primarily to stall for time against invasion if their neutrality was ever violated. Team Yankee represents an opportunity to see how that force would be able to defend their neutrality and independence from foreign invasion. In the current timeline of the game it is an underdog story ripe for narrative exploration, just like the conflict further north in West Germany. Over the course of four articles I plan on embarking on a journey to represent researching, building, and painting Bundesheer in 

History in our Timeline
The tense situation surrounding the negotiation of the Austrian State Treaty in 1955 led to significant concessions to both the Soviet Union and the United States, a significant concession related to the Bundesheer. As per the Article 13 of the Austrian State Treaty, the Bundesheer was forbidden to acquire more modern armaments such as missiles and other technologies which are significantly more common in other armies, in addition to provisions on overall military size and to maintain neutrality in the Cold War. This provision put Austria on a trajectory radically different from other European states, with the Bundesheer producing more effective ammunition for recoilless rifles and a domestic arms industry capable of supplying the needs of state security with an extensive border with two Warsaw Pact nations.

In terms of structure, the Austrian military was divided into two primary components the first and second armies. The Bundesheer’s first army represents the most modernized and mobile elements of the Bundesheer, and is tasked with defending the Eastern Half of Austria from invasion. The Austrian second army is not as mobile as the first army, but it is tasked with defending the more mountainous Western Half of Austria and reinforcing the Eastern Half when needed. Like many nations of the time, Austria practiced a conscript army which required a period of military service to be completed by all young men. A unique aspect of the Austrian military was the presence of the Jagdkampf forces, local militias ordered to go to ground and then carry out guerilla warfare to disrupt the invaders supply lines once the regular Bundesheer had fallen back. These forces would eventually hope to link back up with the Bundesheer to help throw back the invader from Austrian territory. With training comparable to western nations, highly mountainous terrain to defend, and a strong inclination against another Soviet occupation the Austrian military was certainly up to the task though the Bundesheer faces an uphill battle.

There were plans in place for the prospect of a Warsaw Pact Invasion, called Operationsfall Austria. These plans largely focused on stalling out the invading forces with extensive fortifications to allow for successful counter attacks by the Bundesheer’s Panzers and Panzergrenadiers. The case of Team Yankee provides a wonderful opportunity to examine the effectiveness of Austrian forces of this period, especially considering the current timeline of events we have in August 1985 according to the Team Yankee timeline.

The Bundesheer at War

 In terms of Austria in Team Yankee there unfortunately is not a lot of information to work with, there are some mentions in the Czech Booklet, Team Yankee, and Leopard. Team Yankee paints a picture of the Austrian military quickly becoming overwhelmed and either falling back or being destroyed by the invading Warsaw Pact forces. Both the Czech Booklet and Leopard further this idea by telling us the Czech forces encountered light resistance in overrunning the country and that the remains of the Austrian Army linked up with CENTHAG forces in Bavaria to assist in staving off the coming Soviet invasions. However, an important clue in the fate of Austria lies in the maps covering the front interior cover of the Team Yankee books. They show most of Austria as having been invaded, but importantly good sized chunks of Styria, Burgenland, Tyrol, Carinthia, and Vorarlberg remain clear of the Warsaw Pact’s invasion. It appears that while the Austrian 1st army was overrun in Lower and Upper Austria, with what we know about the structure of the Cold War Bundesheer it looks like the Austrian 2nd Army is holding the line in Tyrol and Carinthia alongside successful defending forces from the Austrian 1st Army in Burgenland and Styria.

Thus, it is fair to assume the Austrian military is holding the line in a good chunk of territory and may be pushing to make contact with forces left in the major Austrian cities currently in Pact-held territory as Soviet tactics often called for bypassing cities so another assumption is that Vienna and perhaps Salzburg are under siege in Austrian hands.  So the Austrian army is having mixed results just like West Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark to their North.

The Bundesheer On The Table
Now that we’ve got an idea of where the remaining Austrian forces are in Team Yankee and the historic restrictions facing the Bundesheer is now possible to work out the possible list contenders to reflect a force from the Bundesheer on the tabletop. Importantly, given the prevalence of weapons prohibited by the Austrian State Treaty, a critical assumption to be made is that Article 13 was amended before the conflict and that some ATGWs were purchased to help modernize the Bundesheer as was the case in our own timeline. That said, it is still important to find a force which can reflect existing Bundesheer units and the easiest units to represent would be the frontline Panzer divisions stationed in Eastern Austria. As the Bundesheer equipped their Panzer divisions with the M60 that narrows our choices a bit to three forces: Americans from Stripes, Iranians from Oil War, and Israelis from Oil War.

The Bundesheer at War

Initially, Americans from Stripes check a lot of boxes needed for the Austrian military. The Marine Tank formation is incredibly promising, as the M60A1 is present (It was the more populous M60 variant in Austrian service though it was being upgraded) and it’s possible to take infantry which reasonably reflect Austrian forces in 1985. The hiccup which arises is that within the formation there is a lot of access to ATGWs and the M60 does not have the export ammunition the Austrians used. Moreover, the motivation rating of the troops does not reflect a state which has been brought to its knees fighting for survival. So unfortunately, while American forces do check a lot of boxes it is not the best fit for Austrians. 

Compared to the Americans, the Iranians seem a little out of left-field given their Pact lean in Team Yankee. The troops are significantly more motivated and the equipment is more in line with the Austrian equipment. The M60 is an export ammunition variant with less punch than the American M60, there are infantry formations that work surprisingly well to represent Austrian forces in the Mech formation, and there are even recoilless rifles which were prevalent throughout the Bundesheer. The problem with selecting Iranians is two-fold related to troop quality and equipment. In terms of troop quality, the first is that the whole army is hit on 3s and is poised as a Pact army prioritizing swarms of vehicles with skill ratings that do not accurately reflect Austrian training. The Austrian military was trained in line with Western Forces and reflected that in its overseas peacekeeping missions, domestic training exercises, and relationship with neighboring powers. Furthermore, Austria retained a good standing with arms suppliers like the United States and innovated domestically in that area as well through companies like Steyr, meaning technological development of the Iranians still does not accurately reflect the Bundesheer.

Finally, this leaves Israeli forces out of Oil War for consideration to run as Austrian forces. In terms of representation on the table-top the Israelis are a solid blend of the Iranian and American lists discussed above. Their troop stats reflect a force which is well trained and highly motivated, reflecting a solid vision of Austrian forces in the current timeline for Team Yankee. In terms of equipment, there are several clear analogs to Austrian equipment present throughout the Israeli list providing for a fairly accurate rendition of the Bundesheer with only a small sprinkling of fictitiousness to get the Bundesheer on the table. This is mainly made-up of the small amount of ATGWs and SAMs in the Israeli arsenal. Furthermore, the Magach 6 is a fair representation of the Austrian M60’s main gun AT and general capabilities. Finally, the similarity to US equipment in the support section means that those sections can be fulfilled through using American platoons instead of Austrian platoons, more readily representing the multinational nature of the conflict beyond allied formations. 

The Bundesheer at War

The Bundesheer at War

 Tune in next time to join me for an examination of list building the Bundesheer with Oil War Israelis.


Last Updated On Thursday, August 29, 2019 by Alexander at Battlefront