For the first time in her history, Germany is surrounded by only friends and partners. The reform of the German military is the most radical overhaul of the Bundeswehr in its history. New challenges such as international terrorism and global cooperation require a smaller, more flexible troop structure. The time of planning, guidelines and draft projects is over. That's the conclusion that a report on a reform of the Bundeswehr, the German military, arrived at. The findings were presented by Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere on 16 May 2013. Germany was surrounded by friendly nations and had become a "normal European" power. Instead of conflicts between states, terrorist networks, failed states, weapons of mass destruction and civil wars will become the new threats to safety and stability.
In the age of globalization, foreign policy is, more than ever before, the world's domestic policy. States, societies and economic zones are all becoming networked. The end of the East-West conflict has opened up new opportunities for German foreign policy - both within Europe and worldwide. Germany has accepted the international responsibility that has evolved for the country in the wake of dramatic changes with regard to world politics, and, together with its European and transatlantic partners, is deeply committed to the causes of democracy, human rights and the dialog between cultures. The prime objective of Germany's foreign policy is to maintain peace and safety in the world.
Germany is one of the advocates of appropriate reform to the international organizations, for which there are good reasons: First, no other comparable country is so embedded in multilateral political, economic and military cooperation. Second, German foreign policy takes into account the far greater international responsibility which Germany now has at the request of the world community: In this context Germany is pushing for a comprehensive reform of the UN's organizational structures, including a wish for a permanent seat in the Security Council.
Moreover, for German foreign policy the formation of an independent identity for European security constitutes a key side to strengthening the European pillar of NATO. When in December 2004 NATO transferred leadership of the troops (which have since operated as EUFOR) in Bosnia-Herzegovina to the ESDP (European Security and Defense Policy ) and the Europeans thus for the first time endeavored to control a flashpoint using their own financing and resources, this marked a new stage in the transformation of the transatlantic alliance. The responsibility that the European Union is willing to assume in the Balkans can also be gauged from the fact that its has committed a 1,800-strong international civil EULEX mission to Kosovo, designed to contribute to establishing rule-of-law structures there.
German foreign policy also promotes introducing civil society structures; it is committed to helping overcome natural disasters, asserting democratic and human rights, and to the war on terror. In fact, Germany also uses its new role to secure human rights, peace, and dialog - both in the Middle East and elsewhere.
The fact that Germany can live this role stems from the trust carefully nurtured over the decades. German politics is measured not against the yardstick of the destructive apparatus of the Third Reich, but against its achievements in development and integration. And here Germany has demonstrated that it knows how to assume such responsibilities.
Since the development of European political cooperation one of Germany's wishes for the European Union is that the role the latter plays in world politics be strengthened. From a German point of view the security of EU members in the face of new types of threat is a joint task. In the global political arena the voice of Europe carries more weight than that of its individual member states. Like hardly any other state, Germany's foreign policy has made use of the EU as the basis for representation of its own interests and to promote these. For many years now a steady majority in German public opinion has supported the idea that it is better to approach foreign and security policy questions as part of an alliance. For this reason German European policy has championed the strengthening of the European ability to act, which involves strengthening the common foreign, security and defense policy. This is being implemented with the creation of the office of a "High Representative of Foreign and Security Policy" who will be responsible for the EU's foreign affairs.
The Bundeswehr's existence is the success story of an army in a democratic society which, in addition, has played an important part in bringing the reunified Germany closer together. Security-policy developments are a major factor in determining the Bundeswehr's future spectrum of tasks and the structural consequences. Accordingly, the Bundeswehr serves the objectives of international conflict prevention and crisis management, support for Alliance partners, national defence, rescue and evacuation operations, partnership and cooperation, as well as national disaster relief. Germany gears its security-policy structures towards these tasks, and is willing to make a contribution to strengthening international security commensurate with its size and importance.
The EU's security-policy capabilities must be consistently strengthened within the framework of a credible European Security and Defence Policy. Germany will therefore continue in future to participate, within its means, in further developing and making available necessary capabilities. The Federal Government will make every effort to advance European defence cooperation while maintaining the core capabilities of the German defence technology industry and its international competitiveness.
The Bundeswehr is an operational army. Its structures must ensure that Germany has the ability to act in the field of foreign and security policy, and that the Bundeswehr can be deployed to secure the borders of the Alliance area, is capable of fulfilling commitments to the UN, NATO and the EU, and can continue in future to protect Germany and its population.
Since the early 1990s, German leaders have been challenged to exercise a foreign policy grounded in a long-standing commitment to multilateralism and an aversion to military force while simultaneously seeking to assume the more proactive global role many argue is necessary to confront emerging security threats. Until 1994, Germany was constitutionally barred from deploying its armed forces abroad. The Federal Government is willing to continue to take on responsibility within the multinational framework in future. The Federal Government can decide to deploy the Bundeswehr abroad, subject to the German Bundestag's consent, in so far as this is necessary in terms of security policy and is in the national interest. It will ensure that the Bundeswehr receives the necessary resources for this.
By the end of 2006, the Federal Government produced a white paper on Germany's security policy and the future of the Bundeswehr, under the direction of the Federal Minister of Defence. This white paper also set out the tasks and procedures for cooperation of the institutions responsible for security within a comprehensive national system of preventive security. On this basis, the constant further development of the Bundeswehr since German reunification will be continued in a way which will enable the armed forces to successfully carry out their tasks in the security-policy environment of the 21st century.
The Defence Policy Guidelines of May 2011 set the strategic framework for the mission and the tasks of the Bundeswehr as an element of the whole-of-government approach to security. They describe the security objectives and security interests of the Federal Republic of Germany. They are based on an assessment of the current situation and also include current and likely future developments. The Guidelines are reviewed at regular intervals. They form the binding basis for the conceptual framework of the Bundeswehr and all related subsequent work in the portfolio of the German Ministry of Defence.
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