Mission and Tasks of the German Federal Armed Forces

Following Article 87a of the German constitution, the Federal Government has to provide armed forces for defense. For many decades, this formulation was interpreted narrowly and meant in this context only the defense of the Federal Republic of Germany from direct attacks by third parties. In the meantime, however, this wording has become a broader interpretation and is seen above all in connection with Germany's position as a NATO member. Most recently, the tasks and mission of the Federal Armed Forces in the 2016 White Paper were described and explained in more detail. The White Paper is an essential paper and guide to security policy decisions and actions in the coming years.

The Task of the Federal Armed Forces

The exact Tasks of the Federal Armed Forces comprises a national Approach:

Its purpose is to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity and to ensure the protection of citizens.

The aim is to create a crisis-proof (stable) society and state against all external threats The security policy capacity to act should be supported and secured

In a joint approach with partners and allies, they want to keep security threats away from their society by maintaining and protecting world trade and supply routes.

One would like to defend the allies and maintain the protection of the citizens as well.

The aim is to promote stability and security in an international context.

Strengthen the transatlantic partnership, European integration, and multinational cooperation.

The exact Tasks of the Federal Armed Forces

Following the tasks of the Federal Armed Forces, some tasks are derived from the holistically approach, which is specified here:

  • The national and alliance defense in NATO and the EU
  • An internationally oriented crisis management
  • The homeland defense
  • A stable partnership and cooperation that goes beyond NATO and the EU.
  • The participation and implementation of humanitarian emergency and disaster relief missions

The History of the Federal Armed Forces: 1945 to 1962

As a rule, the army is a strictly hierarchical structure, which is guided by a strict order and obey principle. The Federal Armed Forces were in some ways a military exception. Thus, the Federal Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany is a so-called parliamentary army, which was designed according to the rule of law and democratic principles and is totally controlled by the parliament. The development of the military has, strictly speaking, changed from a classic defense army to an army of international operations. The most important historical points and development steps of the German Federal Armed Forces are now listed and explained in more detail below.

In 1945, at the End of the Second World War, the German Army was both dissolved and de-nazified

With the end of the Second World War in 1945, the German army was finally put to an end; the Allied forces decided during the war that a demilitarization would be carried out after a defeat of Germany. It was set as an objective that Germany, which had begun both world wars, should lose its complete influence both economically and politically, but above all, also militarily. It holistically all German military organizations, the Waffen-SS and simply the Wehrmacht was dissolved. Existing weapon stocks were to be destroyed or removed from Germany. The defense industry also had to stop operating. As a rule, the production facilities were dismantled or destroyed.

1949: The beginning of the Reconstruction of a German Armed Forces and Rearmament

Already after the founding of today's Federal Republic of Germany in May 1949, the question soon arose, how in the future shall they rebuild its military. There have been several significant discussions, in particular in the German Bundestag. Several other publicity measures accompanied these discussions. At that time the topic occupied the politics and different other committees. In the course of the escalation of the Cold War, the fear arose that it could come again to the war on German ground. Because of this, it was recognized that a new armament of the Federal Republic is a necessary evil. In 1952, a contract was signed. The so-called German agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and the western allies, this regulates all relevant details. At the same time, Germany also joined NATO in May 1955. Thus, the way was created for a separate and self-sufficient army for the Federal Republic.

1955: The founding of the German Federal Armed Forces

In November 1955, the first 101 soldiers who volunteered received a certificate of appointment. Thus, the starting signal was given for the construction of a new army, ten years after the Wehrmacht was destroyed. However, the army did not receive a real name until almost a year later in 1956. The participants rejected the idea of re-naming the army in Wehrmacht because there was too much identification with the Third Reich. Because of this, they decided to call the army, based on the Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic, as the Federal Armed Forces. The Federal Armed Forces were regarded as a desirable employer in economically challenging times. Already eight months after the founding of the Bundeswehr, numerous volunteers volunteered for duty. There were 150.000 volunteers reported. All higher positions within the Bundeswehr were meticulously selected with personnel, to take no former Nazi war criminals into leading functions. The re-armament and the construction of the German army caused by the way the Berlin crisis from 1958 with the Soviet Union.

1956: The renewed Introduction of the general compulsory Military Service

In 1956 the reintroduction of universal conscription was established. Thus, 10.000 new conscripts joined the army and filled the barracks again. The introduction of general conscription in this context had mainly practical reasons because they wanted to create a force with a planned troop strength of at least 500.000 active soldiers. The volunteer soldiers were not enough in this context. A commitment of the military conscripts in the context of their basic military service appeared in this context as a personal necessity. In this whole context, the image of the new army was a fundamental point, because it should never be experienced again that the army forms its state in the state. Instead, principles of the rule of law should be adhered to. The citizen in uniform should be perceived as a confidant. Compliance with fundamental rights proved to be essential and relevant throughout this fabric.

1960: The first Foreign Mission of the Federal Armed Forces

In 1960, the first foreign assignment took place in the Moroccan Agadir. There on site, there was a massive earthquake on 29.02.1960. It killed 15.000 people; many thousands of people were homeless and needed help. On 02.03.1960, 3 Luftwaffe squadrons and flight attendants from the Ministry of Defense set off for Morocco. 31 transport machines were put together. Several planes flew to Morocco several times a day to deliver medicines, tents, and food. Many German soldiers were on site in Morocco to help. They came home only in April 1960 from the arduous mission. This mission also boosted the reputation of the German army internationally.

The History of the Federal Armed Forces: 1962 to 1990

The period from 1962 to 1990 was a particularly troubling time for the German Federal Armed Forces. In the early years, the reputation of the Bundeswehr gained more and more in prominence, among other things, due to the Bundeswehr operations in the storm surge of Hamburg and the earthquake in Morocco. However, over the years, the number of so-called conscientious objectors steadily increased, and it came to a loss of the image of the Federal Armed Forces.

The Storm Surge of Hamburg in 1962

In the wake of a severe storm surge in 1962 on the German North Sea coast, many massive floods occurred in the Elbe and Weser. Dikes broke, especially in Bremen and Hamburg. The then police senator recognized the seriousness of the situation and, above all, the lack of helping hands. Because of this, it has resorted to an unusual means at that time, NATO and the Bundeswehr were called for help and support. Over the day, nearly 40.000 soldiers were deployed to rescue more than 1.000 people. They were in a life-threatening position. Nine soldiers died during the important mission. This move has also received international recognition from the political side and has introduced a policy change that will welcome future military missions, even inside Germany, but only if they are non-military missions.

From the Year 1965, an increasing Number of Conscientious Objectors emerged

1949 was added in the constitution the passage that no one should be forced to military service or use of the weapon. In practical life, however, this did not always look like this. Men who did not have military service even acted at a disadvantage in their careers, conscientious objectors were not welcomed in public. It was a kind of social condition because this fact is due to a socioeconomic context. In the course of the Vietnam War, however, the attitudes of the Germans changed significantly, so that there was an exponential increase in conscientious objectors, who then performed a replacement service. This situation was also increasingly accepted in society.

Since 1975, Women have been Part of the Federal Armed Forces

Until 1975, the constitution banned the military service of women and entry into the Federal Armed Forces. As part of a rule change, it was stated that female physicians and female medical officers were also allowed to work in the Armed Forces. In addition to the medical servicewomen could also participate in the military music service. However, a typical military career in most parts of the army was denied. There was a change here later in 2000.

The NATO Double-Track Decision of 1979

In 1979, NATO issued the Double-Track Decision in response to the Soviet Union directing its medium-range weapon against Central Europe equipped with nuclear warheads. The Soviet Union was informed that the USSR is being called for disarmament; otherwise, the NATO would also be positioning medium-range missiles and cruise missiles aiming to the Soviet Union. It grew in the course of the fear that a nuclear war could arise. Numerous peace movements were founded during this period.

Especially in this period, the number of conscientious objectors increased sharply. Above all, the intellectual and academic circles strongly criticized NATO's actions in this context.

The History of the Federal Armed Forces: 1990 up to Day

Founded initially as a defensive army, the German military transformed itself increasingly from 1990 to 2013 in military for international missions. At one time, participation in the Gulf War of 1991 was only financial in nature, but years later it transformed during the Kosovo War, which ended with German support. The German Soldiers actively intervened here in the fighting.

In 1990 German Reunification took place

In the course of the German reunification, it was recognized relatively quickly that the hurdles between the Federal Armed Forces of the West and the National People's Army in the East were too large. So, they dissolved the national people's army. However, the Federal Government was faced with the task of integrating about 90.000 uniformed and 47.000 civilian members. They offered a two-year contract to the soldiers who wanted to serve and then go over to permanent employment for those who turned out to be suitable. Nearly 20.000 Eastern soldiers took advantage of these offers. The integration also worked quite fast in the new federal states, so that the Federal Armed Forces were also accepted there.

New tasks Abroad

Indirect participation in the Gulf War in 1991

Due to the reunification and a vanish of the old power relations, the Federal Republic of Germany was given an entirely new role. Internationally, NATO was very much in the mood for Germany to contribute more to international conflicts and show more responsibility at the same time. They no longer wanted the German Armed Forces with the self-image of the defense army but demanded internationally that they also participate with fast reaction forces or similar actions.

In 1991, Germany was indirectly involved in the Gulf War by initiating financial support. Occasionally, however, real operations were carried out like the provision of anti-aircraft missiles or the clearing of mine areas on the Persian Gulf.

1999: The war in Kosovo from 1999

In 1994, the Federal Constitutional Court declared foreign missions based on existing military alliances admissible. The essential requirement, however, was peacekeeping or the establishment of peace. In 1999, the first Air Force actions due to the NATO operation took their course in the former Yugoslavia. This mission became necessary in Kosovo, as the Albanian minority there was in danger of being destroyed in the course of the civil war. Words such as ethnic cleansing were included.

The War on Terror in Afghanistan in 2001

In the wake of the terrorist attack of September 11th, 2001 in the US, the German Chancellor for the first time declared the full solidarity. Due to the developments in Afghanistan, especially regarding the terror group of al-Qaida and the Taliban, it was decided from the German side to participate in an Afghanistan mission. The stated goals here were to actively prevent the country from becoming more and more a hideout for terrorists. By 2011, more than 34 German soldiers died in Afghanistan in the context of attacks and possible hostilities.

The reform of the Federal Armed Forces in 2010

In 2010 there was a fundamental reform of the German Federal Armed Forces. Thus, the general conscription was abolished in mid-2011. Since then the Federal Armed Forces has become a full volunteer army. The average troop strength was also minimized by 220.000 troops in 2010 to only 185.000 soldiers at the end of 2013. This development took place for two reasons. On the one hand, it tends to be unlikely that Germany will act in combat operations on German ground and, on the other hand, it was forced to cut costs.

Within the German Armed Forces, there have been several complaints and shortcomings that have come to the public since 2013. The defense minister Ursula von der Leyen, who has been sworn in since 12/13, has been taking on the problem since then.

The Leadership Organization

The Federal Armed Forces are led by the Federal Minister of Defense; only in a case of defense, the Federal Chancellor takes over as the commander in chief. These organs are then the so-called owners of the command authority or command authority. The subordinate areas are subdivided into the military as well as the civil organization area.

The Civil Organization is divided into the following institutions:

  • Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and the Use of the Federal Armed Forces
  • Federal Office for Infrastructure, Environmental Protection, and Services of the Federal Armed Forces
  • Federal Office for Personnel Management of the Federal Armed Forces
  • Universities of the Federal Armed Forces
  • Bundessprachenamt
  • Education Center of the Federal Armed Forces
  • Protestant church office for the Federal Armed Forces

The military organization of the Federal Armed Forces is divided into the following fields and commands:

  • Federal Office for the Military Intelligence Service
  • Operation Command of the Federal Armed Forces
  • Leadership Academy of the Federal Armed Forces
  • Aviation Office of the Federal Armed Forces
  • Planning Office of the Federal Armed Forces
  • Center for Inner Leadership
  • Command of the Army
  • Air Force Command
  • Navy Command
  • Command of the Streitkräftebasis
  • Kommando Cyber- und Informationsraum
  • Command medical service of the Federal Armed Forces

The Equipment of the Federal Armed Forces

The Federal Armed Forces have experienced a series of crises, changes, and reforms in recent years. One of the more significant steps in this context was the development of a defensive army with conscripts to a volunteer army. As well as in the increased missions abroad. The equipment components were criticized again and again as outdated.

The current heavy equipment is divided into 4 categories:

  • The tracked vehicle of the Federal Armed Force
  • Aircraft of the Federal Armed Forces
  • Military Ships
  • Wheeled Vehicles

As part of modernization, several large types of equipment were ordered. These include the following components:

  • 138 Multi-Purpose combat Aircraft of the type Eurofighter
  • 40 Transport Aircraft of the type Airbus A400M
  • 45 Combat Helicopter of the type Eurocopter Tiger
  • 82 Transport Helicopter of the type NH90
  • 18 Navy Helicopter of the type MH90
  • 18 Onboard Helicopter
  • 16 UAV of the type of SAATEG
  • 5 SLWÜA
  • 4 Global Hawks
  • 14 TLVS
  • 342 IFV Puma
  • 403 APC GTK Boxer
  • 4 Frigates of the type F125
  • 5 Corvettes of the types K130
  • 6 ships by the type of multi-purpose combat ship 180
  • 2 Submarines
  • 31 Tankbridge vehicle Leguan

*state end of 2017

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