Bundeswehr 2.0

Guttenberg’s Bundeswehr reform takes shape, end of conscription seems only a matter of time

The financial crisis has achieved what the Warsaw Pact and the peace movement were struggling with. German politicians are on their way to realizing that they can’t really afford a crude standing army. But this has nothing to do with the much-cited peace dividend. The new Bundeswehr is to be a lean intervention army that can be deployed quickly and easily anywhere in the world. The defense army of the Basic Law is thus effectively a thing of the past, as is compulsory military service.

In the current budget, the defense budget takes up 31 billion euros. Without reforms, this budget was expected to increase by 5.6 billion euros in the next few years, according to internal calculations by the Bundeswehr. This is due to tariff increases and the rising costs of equipment maintenance and foreign deployments.

In the Bendler Block, however, there are no plans to increase costs, but on the contrary to save more than nine billion euros over the next few years. If these targets are met, the Bundeswehr will have to get by in four years with a budget that is only slightly more than half of the actual target. This is not possible without far-reaching reforms, especially since the Bundeswehr is already massively underfunded in the operational area.

The structure of the Bundeswehr is an anachronism. It looks like a crude jeep that was bought when we were still living in the wilderness, but which is now oversized for fetching bread in the city every day and is simply too expensive to maintain. With the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the defense army, which at its height had 500.000 soldiers, lost their enemy. NATO had fulfilled its basic purpose and should have disbanded in favor of new security architectures.

Those who hoped that they would now be able to collect the peace dividend were soon disappointed. Defense technology is too lucrative a business to be abandoned in peacetime. After an exhausting search, however, new enemies were soon found. The Bundeswehr, however, was not prepared for the tasks it had to expect, since it was a child of the Cold War.

An army whose mission was to be the first vanguard in the fight against a highly ruthless enemy cannot simply be deployed in the middle of nowhere against insurgents. The Taliban are not in fighter jets, do not have medium-range missiles, and do not even have tanks. However, the main capabilities of the Bundeswehr were – and still are – air and missile defense and the fight against heavily armored large groups. However, the transformation process, which began about fifteen years ago, is proceeding slowly, while the costs are getting out of hand.

During the Cold War, the German defense industry was a child of defense policy. For decades, the defense policy emergency looked like this: The military ordered oversized platform solutions, which were not only delivered decades too late, but also cost the taxpayer many times the originally projected budget. Politicians have never succeeded in driving this behavior out of the military-industrial sector. Today, the Bundeswehr is still waiting for delivery of the 122 NH-90 helicopters that were ordered back in the Cold War era. What the new Bundeswehr wants to do today with such a crude fleet of transport helicopters, even in the Ministry of Defense does not know. Although Guttenberg’s reform envisages, "only" 80 NH-90 helicopters, it is not known how the threat of contractual penalties will be countered.

The black baron’s red list

In addition to the NH-90 helicopter, savings are also to be made on the Tiger combat helicopter. Only 40 instead of the 80 ordered are to be procured. The 15 Transall transport aircraft are to be decommissioned, the number of newly ordered A400Ms is to be reduced, at the same time the Tornado fleet is to shrink from 185 to 85 units and 37 ordered Eurofighters are also up for grabs – and who will they be used against?? The Navy and Army are also facing cutbacks – eight frigates, ten fast patrol boats and 21 Sea King helicopters are to be decommissioned and only 280 instead of 400 Puma armored infantry fighting vehicles are to be purchased. Whereby the last point could be particularly badly received by the troops, after all, the Bundeswehr is already lacking 3.500 armored transport vehicles to train the soldiers properly for the mission in Afghanistan.

This list of deletions is still only a working paper, but resistance is already forming on all sides. The IG-Metall union raises massive concerns and calls Defense Minister zu Guttenberg a gravedigger of the military aerospace industry in Germany, while Bavarian Economics Minister Zeil admonishes his party colleague to consider the technological competence of the Free State and not to shortcut or cancel any EADS projects.

However, the storm of disenchantment is still ahead of Guttenberg, after all, each closure and each reduction of capacity also means the closure of sites and thus a loss of jobs in the regions. Especially from the north of the country, where most of the military bases are still located, the Bavarian baron was allowed to blow a stiff breeze in his face.

Forced diat

Guttenberg’s laurels have already wilted. After his inauguration, the non-commissioned officer of the reserve toured the bases of the republic and listened to the wishes and concerns of the soldiers. What Guttenberg hoarded, he did not like at all. Material and equipment are lacking on all fronts, the Bundeswehr feels abandoned by politics. Instead of remedying these shortcomings, however, Guttenberg was already working on his rough list of cuts in the back of his mind. Today, he prefers to show up at banquets and surprise the officer corps with his "Thoughts" Every day anew.

The current target strength of 250.000 soldiers, including 30.000 conscripts, does not appear to be financially viable in view of the cash situation. Guttenberg’s working papers therefore play with various scenarios based on a minimum strength of 150.000 soldiers orientate. However, experts believe that in November, rather 150.000 + X will be on the reform bill ready for resolution. Whether this X is 20.000 or even 50.000 will depend above all on how conscription is handled in the future. If conscription is limited to six months, it will not be possible to significantly reduce the total number of regular and professional soldiers, since the training and supervision of conscripts is very labor-intensive.

New tasks

The Bundeswehr of the Bonn Republic was inextricably linked with compulsory military service. After the experiences of the Kaiserreich, the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich, people did not want an army that was a state within the state. The idea was to have a democratic citizen army, governed by the guidelines of the "Internal leadership" and of the "Staatsburger in Uniform" rooted as deeply as possible in the people and in democracy. These times are over. The Berlin Republic is no longer about national defense, but about international peace and pacification operations. But the transformation is not yet complete.

The future of the Bundeswehr will also be a strengthened "Securing sea and trade routes" which, according to zu Guttenberg, will eventually include "benefits our middle class". Experts therefore also believe that the reform of the Bundeswehr will involve a rewriting of the defense policy guidelines and the Code of Military Conduct, which define the country’s security policy and strategic goals. Then the way would be free for an intervention army, which represents world-wide the interests of the German economy with military means.

Discontinued model of compulsory military service

Compulsory military service is strictly linked to national defense by the Basic Law, and the new tasks cannot be performed with conscripts anyway, since they cannot be deployed abroad. The new soldiers of the Bundeswehr are to be Rambos in camouflage rather than Staatsburgers in uniform. In most cases, the relatives of a professional soldier know that the lucrative job can also end in death. Meanwhile, conscripts coming home from a pointless war in a zinc coffin have been undermining the morale of the "Home Front" noticeably undermined.

The social structure of the army has already been changing for years. While it was still normal in the Bonn Republic for sons from "better off" Today, only a fraction of a cohort is still needed in the Bundeswehr. With a change to a "De facto professional army" the Bundeswehr became structurally similar to the professional armies of other Western countries. In the US Army, too, it is mainly members of the lower classes who serve. It is also easier to send a Rodrigo, whose parents are dishwashers in a Californian diner, to his death far away from his new home than the son of a Republican senator from Rhode Island.

The German Rodrigo is called Rene and comes from Brandenburg and is faced with the choice of signing up or spending his life in Hartz IV. Of course, Berlin politics would rather send Rene to Afghanistan than the son of a parliamentarian or a high achiever. Many a decision in the plenum would certainly have been different if the members of parliament had had to send their own sons and daughters to war.

With all the consequences for the security of the people of our country, there is the option of retaining military service as it is now – with all the advantages and disadvantages There is the extreme model of dispensing with compulsory military service in the Basic Law. I do not believe in that. And there are various alternative models, including those that contain voluntary elements. Therefore, there are many questions to be answered, such as to what extent a person doing military service in the German armed forces today is still an involuntary conscript.

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg in an interview with FAZ

Problems with constitutional law

To abolish conscription, a two-thirds majority was needed in the Bundestag and Bundesrat. FDP, Grune and Linke supported an abolition or. Suspension of compulsory military service, SPD categorically rejects it. Even though zu Guttenberg would have preferred to abolish conscription altogether, this plan could not be supported by a majority within the CDU/CSU. It can therefore be amed that conscription will not be abolished, but replaced by voluntary service in the armed forces lasting at least 24 months. These soldiers were then considered to be regular soldiers and were allowed to be deployed abroad.

The problem with such a model, however, is its constitutional framework. Conscription is based on national defense, and it is unlikely that the judges of the Federal Constitutional Court would have a "suspended" Conscription with voluntary temporary soldiers at all were recognized. Guttenberg probably already calculates the veto from Karlsruhe into his plans, since such a judgement would put the politicians in front of the decision to vote either for an unaffordable conscript army or an abolition of conscription. The end of conscription is therefore the most probable solution in the medium term.

When this transformation is complete, the Berlin Republic will finally have its intervention army to defend Germany (and the interests of the German economy) not only in the Hindu Kush, but worldwide. When the young Federal Republic rearmed, it distrusted the militaries and constructed the Bundeswehr as a parliamentary army. It is tragic that today the parliament of all places is proving to be the greatest threat to the idea of a democratic defense army that learned to fight so that it would never have to fight. The lessons of the past have obviously already fizzled out – brave new Germany.

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