Bundeswehr

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Armed Forces of Germany
Image:Bundeswehr Logo.svg
Military manpower
Military age mandatory 18 years of age
Availability males age 18-49: 18,917,537 (2005 est.)
Fit for military service males age 18-49: 15,258,931 (2005 est.)
Reaching military age annually males: 497,048 (2005 est.)
Expenditure
Amount € 27.9 bln. (FY06)
(approx. $33 bln.)
Percent of GDP 1.3% (FY06)
Command
Commander-in-Chief Franz-Josef Jung
Inspector General Wolfgang Schneiderhan

The Bundeswehr (Federal Defence Force, listen ) is the organization that controls and administers the armed forces of Germany.

Contents

[edit] General information

The Bundeswehr is a federal defence force with Army (Heer), Navy (Marine), Air Force (Luftwaffe), Joint Service Support Command (Streitkräftebasis), and Central Medical Services (Zentraler Sanitätsdienst) branches.

The Bundeswehr has some 250,000 military personnel, 50,000 of whom are 18 to 25 year-old conscripts who serve for at least nine months under current rules. The number of civilian employees is to be reduced to 75,000 during the coming years.

Women have served in the medical service since 1975. In 2000, in a lawsuit brought up by Tanja Kreil, the European Court of Justice issued a ruling allowing women to serve in more roles than previously allowed. Since 2001 they can serve in all functions of service without restriction, but they are not subject to conscription. There are presently around 13,000 women on active duty and a number of female reservists who take part in all duties including peacekeeping missions and other operations.

[edit] History

[edit] The Cold War period 1955-1990

Germany had been without its own armed forces since the Wehrmacht was dissolved in the years following World War II. Some smaller forces continued to exist as Border guard or naval minesweeping units, but not as a national defence force. The responsibility for the security of Germany as a whole rested with the four Allied Powers: the U.S., the UK, France, and the Soviet Union. Germany was completely demilitarised and any plans for a German military were forbidden by Allied regulations.

There was a discussion between the United States, the United Kingdom, and France over the issue of a revived German military. In particular, France was reluctant to allow Germany to rearm in light of recent history. However, after the project for a European Defence Community failed in the French National Assembly in 1954, France agreed to West German accession to NATO and rearmament.

With growing tensions between the Soviet Union and the West especially after the Korean War, this policy was to be revised. While East Germany was already secretly rearming, the seeds of a new West German force started in 1950, when former high ranking German officers were tasked by chancellor Konrad Adenauer to discuss the options for West German rearmament. The results of a meeting in the monastery of Himmerod formed the conceptual base to build the new armed forces in West Germany. The "Amt Blank" (Bureau Blank, named after its director Theodor Blank), the predecessor of the later Federal Ministry of Defence, was formed the same year to prepare the establishment of the future forces. Hasso von Manteuffel, a former general of the Wehrmacht and liberal politician, submitted the name Bundeswehr for the new forces. This name was later confirmed by the German Bundestag.

The Bundeswehr was officially established on the 200th birthday of Scharnhorst in 1955. After an amendment of the Basic Law in 1955, West Germany became a member of NATO. In 1956, conscription for all men between the ages of 18 and 45 was introduced, later augmented by a civil alternative with longer duration (see Conscription in Germany). In parallel, East Germany formed its own military force, the Nationale Volksarmee which was eventually dissolved with the reunifcation of Germany in 1990.

During the Cold War the Bundeswehr was the backbone of NATO's conventional defense in Central Europe. It had a strength of 495,000 military and 170,000 civilian personnel. The Army consisted of three corps with 12 divisions, most of them heavily armed with tanks and APCs. The Air Force owned significant numbers of tactical combat aircraft and took part in NATOs integrated air defence (NATINAD). The Navy was tasked and equipped to defend the Baltic Approaches, to provide escort reinforcement and resupply shipping in the North Sea and to contain the Soviet Baltic Fleet.

[edit] Unification of West and East Germany 1990

After reunification in 1990, the Bundeswehr was reduced to 370,000 military personnel in accordance with the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany between the two German governments and the Allies (2+4 Treaty). The former East German Nationale Volksarmee (NVA) was disbanded. A small portion of its personnel and material were absorbed into the Bundeswehr.

About 50,000 Volksarmee personnel were integrated into the Bundeswehr on 2 October 1990. This figure was rapidly reduced as conscripts and short-term volunteers completed their service. A number of senior officers (but no generals or admirals) received limited contracts for up to two years to continue daily operations. Personnel remaining in the Bundeswehr were awarded new contracts and new Bundeswehr ranks, dependent on their individual qualification and experience. Many received and accepted a lower rank than previously held in the Volksarmee. These were seen as demotions by critics.

In general, the unification process of the military - under the slogan "Armee der Einheit"/"Army of Unity" - is publicly seen as a major success and an example for other parts of the society.

With the reduction, a large amount of the military hardware of the Bundeswehr, as well as of the Volksarmee, had to be disposed of. A majority of armored vehicles and fighter jet aircraft were dismantled under international disarmament procedures. Ships were scrapped or sold, often to the Baltic states and Indonesia, the latter receiving 39 former Volksmarine vessels of various types.

[edit] Mission

The role of the Bundeswehr is described in the German Basic Law (Art. 87a) as defensive only. After 1990, the international situation had changed from East-West-confrontation to general uncertainty and instability. Today, after a ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court in 1994 the term defence has been defined to not only include protection of the borders of Germany, but also crisis reaction and conflict prevention - or more broadly as guarding the security of Germany anywhere in the world. According to the definition given by former Defence Minister Struck, it may be necessary to defend Germany even at the Hindu Kush. This requires the Bundeswehr to take part in operations outside of the borders of Germany, as part of NATO or the European Union and mandated by the UN.

[edit] Organization and command structure

With the growing number of missions abroad it was recognized that the Bundeswehr required a totally new command structure. A reform commission under the chairmanship of the former Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker presented its recommendations in spring 2000.

In October 2000 the Joint Service Support Command, the Streitkräftebasis, was established to concentrate logistics and other supporting functions such as military police and communications under one command. Medical support was reorganized with the establishment of the Central Medical Services.

The combat forces of the Army are organized into 5 combat divisions and also participates in multi-national command structures at the corps level. There are 3 divisions in the Air Force and 2 flotillas in the Navy. The Central Medical Services and the Joint Service Support Command are each organized into four regional commands. All of these services also have general commands for training, procurement, and other general issues. The Joint Service Support Command and the Central Medical Services are both organized in four regional commands of identical shape.

The minister of defense or the chancellor is supported by the Chief of defense (CHOD, Generalinspekteur) and the service chiefs (Inspekteure) and their respective staffs in his or her function as commander-in-chief. The CHOD and the service chiefs form the Military Command Council (Militärischer Führungsrat) with functions similar to those of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the United States. Subordinate to the CHOD is the Armed Forces Operational Command (Einsatzführungskommando). For smaller missions one of the service HQs (e.g. the Fleet Command) exercise command and control of German armed forces on missions abroad.

The Bundeswehr in general is still among the world's most technologically advanced and well-supplied militaries, as befits Germany's overall economic prosperity and infrastructure. Its budget is, however, steadily shrinking and among the lowest military budgets in NATO in terms of share of GDP.

[edit] Operations

Image:040610-N-1823S-348 G36andpracticenade.jpg
An infantryman stands at the ready with his G36 during a practice exercise in 2004 (Photo: US Navy)
Image:Fregatte Karlsruhe.jpg
Frigate "Karlsruhe" of the German Navy rescuing shipwrecked people off the coast of Somalia which it is patrolling
Image:8955 SeaKing41 MFG5.jpg
Naval Air Wing 5 helicopter Sea King Mk41 in special 30th anniversary colour scheme at Weston-super-Mare, UK, July 2005

Since the early 1990s the Bundeswehr has become more and more engaged in international operations in and around the former Yugoslavia, and also in other parts of the world like Cambodia or Somalia. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, German forces were employed in most related theaters except Iraq.

Currently there are Bundeswehr forces in:

In support of Allied stabilization efforts in Iraq, the Bundeswehr is also training the new Iraqi forces in locations outside Iraq, such as the United Arab Emirates and Germany.

[edit] Traditions

Former German military organizations have been the Reichswehr (1921-1935) and the Wehrmacht (1935-1945). The Bundeswehr, however, does not consider itself as their successor and does not follow the traditions of any former German military organization. The official Bundeswehr traditions are based on three major subjects:

As its symbol the Bundeswehr uses a form of the Iron Cross. The Iron Cross has a long history, having been awarded as a military war time decoration for all ranks since 1813, and earlier associated with the Teutonic knights. The name Bundeswehr was proposed by the former Wehrmacht general and liberal politician Hasso von Manteuffel.

One of the most visible traditions is the Großer Zapfenstreich, a form of military tattoo that goes back to the landsknecht era.

[edit] Transformation

According to the new thread-scenario facing Germany and its allies, the Bundeswehr is currently reorganizing itself. To realize growth in mobility and the enlargement of the airforce's capabilities, the bundeswehr is going to buy 60 A400M transporters as well as 180 EF2000 fighters. To improve the capabilities of the ground forces it is currently developing a land soldier system and a new generation of transportation vehicles and light tanks, such as the Fennek or thePuma (IFV) Further the german navy is going to buy 3 new Sachsen class frigates and 8 Type 212 submarines

[edit] See also

[edit] External links


 
Bundeswehr (Military of Germany)
Image:Bundeswehr Kreuz.svg
Heer (Army) | Marine (Navy) | Luftwaffe (Air force)
Zentraler Sanitätsdienst (Central Medical Services)| Streitkräftebasis (Joint Service Support Command)
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