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World Debate about the role of the Bundeswehr: high time to make us honest!

15:00  25 november  2020
15:00  25 november  2020 Source:   tagesspiegel.de

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During this time the Bundeswehr did not take part in combat operations. However, there were a number of large-scale training and operational casualties. The role of the Bundeswehr is described in the Constitution of Germany (Art. 87a) as absolutely defensive only.

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Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer currently sees no majority for combat operations by the army. That is correct, but it poses problems. A comment.

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Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is really not one who ducks away. Or if you are afraid of being attacked on sensitive topics, your own or others. That applies to your party, the CDU , that also applies to your ministry, that of defense.

It often hits sore spots. For example, recently at the Rencontre with France's President Emmanuel Macron, as Kramp-Karrenbauer, AKK for short, very much to his displeasure, emphasizing the continued importance of the USA for the security of Europe for a long time. And didn't back down.

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Or now, where she publicly declares that she does not see a majority in the Bundestag for combat operations by the Bundeswehr. Which of course the USA, including the new government there, will record very precisely. Probably also with reluctance - but quietly.

Now AKK has added in this case: currently. At the moment she does not see this will. But the “now” can last for a long time. Because it is certainly true that the Bundeswehr has already had very robust, even offensive combat missions behind it, in 1999 in the Kosovo war, when German "tornado" fighter jets were involved in the bombing of Serbian air defense positions. Or in Afghanistan, where ground troops of the German Armed Forces fought with the radical Islamic Taliban, sometimes for hours.

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Higher expenses for common security

But that is precisely why combat operations are viewed with skepticism today, not only on the left. And that is a tradition. As early as the 1990s, the then Federal President, the Christian Democrat Richard von Weizsäcker, doubted that future conflicts could still be resolved by military means. He drew this lesson from the Gulf War, a view that has since spread through his experience.

What future cooperation in NATO will not make any easier. Especially since the USA, regardless of the outgoing President Donald Trump, who has ceaselessly criticized Germany, expects even more commitment from the strongest European power. And also in terms of military operations, not just in terms of money, i.e. higher expenses for common security.

Basically this requirement has existed for years. Even under Barack Obama (President before Trump), the German contribution was an issue. So it offers material for conflict with the next US government , that of Joe Bide n, Obama's vice-president.

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Against the background that it foresees this and at the same time considers American commitment to Europe to be indispensable, AKK emphasizes the range of German possibilities so clearly. It doesn't all have to be combat missions, it can also be training missions.

Just a reminder: The Bundeswehr has shrunk enormously in the 30 years since reunification. Today there are just 176,006 professional and contract soldiers with 7,454 doing voluntary military service. And of all of them, 3,203 soldiers are currently deployed abroad.

But just as it sometimes helps militarily when the Bundeswehr is involved in international operations against the “Islamic State” with “tornado” reconnaissance planes and a fighter, it also helps politically not to hide away and address sensitive issues. To heal sore spots.

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This is interesting!