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Summary: The Transformation of the Bundeswehr

Franz-Josef Meiers

Due to the profound changes in the security-political environment, Defense Minister Struck has come under pressure to adapt the Bundeswehr’s structure, equipment, and financial basis to steadily increasing international demands. With approximately 10,000 soldiers deployed in eight different multinational operations, the current structure of the Bundeswehr is bursting out of its seams.

With the current structure, materiel, and equipment it is objectively impossible to meet the Bundeswehr capability profile, as laid down in the security-political guidelines of May 2003, particularly with regard to interoperability and in view of the technological progress of Germany’s allies. Therefore the transformation is aimed at changing the Bundeswehr from a defense force with functional crisis response capabilities into an operational force that is able to effectively meet Germany’s international obligations vis-à-vis the UN, NATO, and the EU.

Defense can no longer be geographically confined, but is a matter of guaranteeing national security wherever it is threatened. Likewise, operations abroad are no longer tasks added on to the national defense function, but instead have become the structure-determining main task of the Bundeswehr. The Bundeswehr’s operational focus on the more likely tasks calls for structures and capabilities that ensure rapid deployment and the capability of conducting sustained far-distance operations.

Under these premises, the cornerstones of the transformation of the Bundeswehr will be the reduction of military personnel from 285,000 to 250,000 until 2010, an organization featuring three force categories, each trained, equipped and used according to their tasks, the closure of another 100 military facilities to reduce the number to a total of 500, and the adjustment of the 9-month national service to the changed tasks, while in the future the yearly available number of conscripts will not be fully exploited. In addition, procurement and armament planning will be tailored to the future needs of the most likely operational scenarios and the operational-technological capabilities defined by NATO and the EU as well as the demands of combined joint operations.

A capable Bundeswehr is to ensure Germany’s ability to work side by side with its allies, in a manner consistent with the new military-technological demands of network-centric operations, thus maintaining Germany’s security-political ability to act in a multinational context. Notwithstanding, the actual implementation of the transformation is more and more clearly turning out to be the weak point, as has always been the case. If military spending were to reach the level of Great Britain or France (2.5% of the GDP), the defense budget would have to be raised by 16 bn EUR, i.e. from currently approx. 24 bn to 40 bn. As this seems to be highly unrealistic, the question about Germany’s predictability and accountability with regard to its multilateral orientation will have to be addressed. The transformation of the Bundeswehr unveils a basic conflict in Germany’s foreign and security-political orientation, between meeting the external and the internal expectations.

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