In the late XIX - early XX century, the Austro-Hungarian Empire had a significant economic, political and military potential. As you know, the beginning of the century is characterized by a tense international situation, the central place in which belonged to Austria-Hungary, in so far as it included the territories of the Balkan Peninsula. And as you know, the Balkans are a "powder keg" of Europe. The First World War will begin here. Its prerequisites and contradictions arose not only in Germany, Britain, and in the long run in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was destined not only to become an ally of the Triple Alliance, but also to fight against the Russian Empire.
Internal political situation in the empire
For a better understanding of the state of affairs in Austria-Hungary at the beginning of the 20th century, let's try to compare the countries that fought in the First World War from different military-political blocs. Perhaps the most appropriate is the comparison of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires.
The similarity of the situation is amazing. Like the Russian Empire, Austria-Hungary was a large continental state, which in its level of development was in no way inferior (and in some respects superior) to the advanced countries of Europe. Austro-Hungary, like Russia, was literally torn by internal contradictions, primarily national ones.
The Austro-Hungarian monarchy included many nationalities and peoples. The struggle of these small nations (Poles, Croats, Romanians, Serbs, Slovenes, Ukrainians, Czechs, Slovaks) for self-determination, expansion of administrative and cultural rights very much shook the stability of the empire from within. One should also take into account the fact that Austria-Hungary claimed a unique structure of state administration, which was built on the authority of the two monarchs. And this greatly aggravated the domestic political situation.
Foreign policy of the state
The geopolitical interest of the empire was concentrated on the Balkan Peninsula, and Russia also claimed these territories. They were inhabited by Slavic peoples, who at the beginning of the century were under the yoke of the Ottoman Empire, the eternal enemy of both Austria-Hungary and Russia. But with the just division of the Balkans, both empires did not agree, and therefore the conflict of the great powers became deeper every year, and not only Austria-Hungary aggravated it. The empire and Russia inflated this conflict in equal measure.
Serbia became the apple of inevitable discord between the states. Strengthened in the two Balkan wars of 1912-1913. The Slavic kingdom created serious problems for Austria-Hungary, expressing ideas about independence. Such a policy of the King of Serbia Petr Karagoregievich was promoted by Russia, an old fellow of the Serbian people. Given this state of affairs, the Austro-Hungarian government could rely only on a forceful solution to the problem.
Army and its structure
The foreign policy task of this level of complexity was entrusted to the imperial and royal army of Austria-Hungary. This is the name of the armed forces of the empire. The army, like the whole state, was heterogeneous. It consisted of Austrians, Hungarians, Croats, Bosnians and representatives of other peoples who are part of the country. The Austro-Hungarian troops were divided into four parts: the imperial and royal army landwehr, the Bosnian-Hercegovinian troops, the royal Hungarian horseman and the imperial royal troops. All of them, accordingly, had bodies of military and territorial management. The territorial aspect in the army generated a lot of controversy, as the governments of Austria and Hungary contributed to the development of the horse and landwehr and, on the contrary, tried to deprive the rest of the troops.
There were many shortcomings and contradictions in the officer corps. The military academies educated officers in the spirit of old, already obsolete traditions. The military bureaucratized and were able to conduct only maneuvers, and not combat operations. Theoretical, living military thought in the army did not exist. And indeed, many officers were set up nationalistically and were ardent anti-monarchists.
But to speak only about the negative state of the Austro-Hungarian army is not necessary, of course, there were strengths. The imperial and royal armies were particularly mobile. A small territory of the empire and a developed network of railways allowed the troops to move faster than all the armies of the continent. Austria-Hungary in terms of technological equipment of the army was inferior only to Germany. The state's industry, because of its development, could allow a very good supply of the army, even in military conditions. But if the war had a protracted character, all the advantages would have been lost. In this situation there were many European states, not an exception, and Austria-Hungary. The First World War, which is about to begin, will put everything in its place.
Empire in the early twentieth century
Thus, you can ascertain the fact that the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the early twentieth century was in crisis, both external and internal. Austria-Hungary strengthened on the map of Europe in the 19th century, but it could not hold the leading positions, which led to the growth of contradictions in the national question, in the armed forces and geopolitical strategies.