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Federal Ministry of Defense
Bundesministerium der Verteidigung

The core feature of the Federal Ministry of Defence (FMoD) is the duality of the political and military structure. The Federal Minister of Defence is the head of the FMoD which comprises about 3300 employees, and besides being a part of the Cabinet, he serves as the official Commander in Chief in peacetime. He also presides over the German Armed Forces defence and justice administration and all directives and orders to the Armed Forces are issued in his name.

The Federal Minister of Defence, the Parliamentary State Secretaries and the Permanent State Secretaries form the Ministry’s Executive Group, as the civilian executive of the ministry. This group is supporterd by six staffs (Executive Staff, Policy Planning and Advisory Staff, Organization Staff, Press and Information Office, Information Technology, Executive Group Controlling Staff and the Special Investigation Branch)

The military counterpart of this civilian structure comprises five different branches, the Armed Forces Staff, Air Force Staff, Army Staff, Naval Staff and the Medical Service Staff. On top of the different chief of staffs presides the highest ranking military officer in Germany, the Chief of Staff of the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) who is also the direct adviser of the Federal Minister of Defence.

Peter Struck was the Minister of Defence under chancellor Gerhard Schröder from 22 October 2002 until 2005. Due to the profound changes in the security-political environment, by 2004 Defense Minister Struck was 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 in 2004, the structure of the Bundeswehr was bursting out of its seams.

With the existing structure, materiel, and equipment it was 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, transformation was 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 could no longer be geographically confined, but was a matter of guaranteeing national security wherever it is threatened. Likewise, operations abroad were no longer tasks added on to the national defense function, but instead had become the structure-determining main task of the Bundeswehr.

The Bundeswehr’s operational focus on the more likely tasks called 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 were 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 was 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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Page last modified: 16-07-2012 18:46:53 ZULU