Guest article: Councilor Paul Winiker calls for more investment in security

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More investments are needed in Swiss security

The sustainability concept with the networking of economy, society and environment is outdated: The Ukraine war, for example, shows that it must be expanded to include the aspect of security, as Councilor Paul Winiker (SVP), who was at the WEF in Davos this week, in writes his op-ed.

The Lucerne Justice and Security Director Paul Winiker (right), here on a visit to Infantry Battalion 20 with his then government colleague Robert Küng (left), calls for more investment in military troop strength and equipment.

Image: Luzerner Zeitung / Philipp Schmidli (October 18, 2018)

According to traditional doctrine, the concept of sustainability consists of three dimensions: economy, society and environment. This expresses the fact that economic, social and ecological processes form a unit. The actions of public and private actors must not be isolated and one-dimensional, but must take into account the interactions between the three dimensions of economy, society and the environment.

The three-dimensional concept is no longer sufficient

Against the background of the fundamentally changing global geopolitical situation, however, the three-dimensional concept of sustainability is no longer sufficient. It no longer does justice to the security policy situation. This becomes clear with regard to the autocratic regimes that have emerged in recent years. Their actions are increasingly unpredictable. Examples include Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine and China’s threats to Taiwan. Due to the extremely critical security policy situation, the concept of sustainability must be expanded to include a fourth dimension: the security pillar.

The risk of economic upheaval is growing

The first findings from the current security policy world situation are already becoming visible in a dramatic way in society and the economy. The Ukraine war provoked a serious energy shortage, especially in Europe. In the wake of this artificial shortage, the first economic upheavals are emerging, for example with the massive increase in inflation. Unpredictable price jumps in the procurement of energy and basic foodstuffs pose the risk of unrest. What is certain is that the European states will have to adjust to a noticeable loss of prosperity.

investment in security

Lucerne Security Director Paul Winiker (SVP).

Lucerne Security Director Paul Winiker (SVP).

Image: Patrick Hürlimann

The economic outlook remains volatile and national budgets are coming under increasing pressure. Nevertheless, investments in security are of great importance. However, the security potential cannot be improved with the procurement of armaments alone. The staffing levels in the security bodies also need to be critically examined with regard to their sustainability. In the army, this is shown by the example of the (Lucerne) infantry battalion 20: Currently, around 1000 members of the army (AdA) are assigned, the target number of active is slightly more than 800. However, the actual number at the refresher courses is at best 600 AdA .

The reason for this precarious situation is the fact that the most recent army reforms have reduced the length of service for soldiers, for example, from 300 to 245 days. With the consequence that the majority of conscripts are no longer active in the target population after just five weeks. As a result, the army is losing well-trained specialists in all arms. It is therefore imperative to consider how the loss of specialist knowledge can be minimized. A newly created overall concept must also urgently include the protection of critical civilian infrastructure.

Better equipment for soldiers

Switzerland has taken the first important steps in procuring new material. With the new combat aircraft and the systems of ground-to-air defense, the previous vacuum in the airspace is at least partially closed. But much more is required to be able to defend yourself: the ground troops must finally be fully equipped. Our soldiers deserve the best material, the best equipment, the best weapons. In addition, numerous battalions are still not fully equipped. For WK operations they have to “borrow” material and vehicles from other battalions. This fundamentally calls into question the sustainability. Example: The army currently has 17 infantry battalions, but the existing material park does not have enough for all of them.

Security is an essential part of sustainable development

Sustainability requires serious and consistent efforts in safety. If the aspect of security is not included, the three sustainability dimensions economy, society and environment lose their effect. A consistent policy of sustainability must therefore include the fourth dimension – safety – as an integral part.

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