German Armed Forces in transition

Posted in NATO | 20-May-04 | Author: Dieter Farwick

The German Armed Forces are - as many other armed forces - in an ongoing process of transition. This process is more than an adjustment of structures and armament. It started with a new conceptual leap regarding the present and foreseeable development of world politics insofar as security and stability are concerned. The assessment of new risks and threats leads to different priorities for the commitment of military force. It's no longer the famous "Fulda gap" as a symbol for the "old" collective defence by heavy NATO assigned forces. The actual deployment of German armed forces "out-of-area" tells a different story.

German Minister of Defence, Dr. Peter Struck; exclusive interview with World Security Network.
German Minister of Defence, Dr. Peter Struck; exclusive interview with World Security Network.
Modern military forces have to cover a wide spectrum of military operations, from high-intensity warfare to low-intensity warfare. They must be rapidly deployable over great distances and sustainable for a long period of time while still engaged in homeland defence. The list of potential missions is long, too long as far as the available resources are concerned.
To meet all these challenges is a task comparable to squaring the circle.

Therefore, you may find interesting how the German Armed Forces try to solve the huge task. I had the chance to lay some questions on the table of the German Minister of Defence, Dr. Peter Struck. His answers cover the most important issues on this topic including German-American relations, the commitment of German soldiers "out-of-area", the situation in Afghanistan and Kosovo, the deployment of German Armed Forces into Iraq, the question of resources, the future of the German conscript system, European military efforts vs. NATO, and the NATO Response Force.

The future of the German Armed Forces depends on the resolve of the government to finance the transition as it has been planned by the MOD. The gap between political missions and military capability must not be widened. The German chancellor has to give the German Armed Forces at least the presently available resources. If the German Armed Forces have to undergo further cuts the whole process of transition will collapse.