A Sight on European Defence

There have been several press articles on the future format of German Armed Forces. In any case, manning will be trimmed again and make out of Bundeswehr the smallest one among the main countries. However one factor should be taken into account to moderate the mere figures.

In accordance with its fundamental law, the civilian part of Ministry of Defence is rather large and many tasks, which are traditionally devoted to the military in other European countries, belong to the civilian side of the ministry, in German the ‘Bundeswehr- und verteidigungsverwaltung’.

The figures made available in German media are the following ones:

-Army: 47.000 men,

-Air Force: 19.000 men,

-Navy: 9.000 men,

-Medical service: 11.000 men,

-Joint services: 26.000 men.

(source: Stern.de of 22. June 2010)

These figures do not mean that much, the most interesting will consist in the number of combat units that will remain, including their support and service support. As well, critical to observe will be the capability to commit effectively troops. For the time being, all the possible troops are declared to NATO. At least theoretically. However, when SACEUR needs reinforcements, or when the EU Council wants to launch an operation, reality is much more painful. Therefore, I would not criticize German figures until one can discriminate what they really mean.

For this reason, Mr v. Guttenberg words make sense when he declares to the Spiegel on 14th June: ‘It cannot be, with 252,000 soldiers, that we have already reached the limits of our abilities when only 8,000 soldiers are deployed at the same time’, which means that the Germans do not have their money worth.

So let us see how many soldiers the Bundeswehr will declare ready for deployment once the reform will start implementation. Thanks the support of the defence civilian services, it could work, but Germany will then have to fix what assets will be mutualised, with whom, and mainly with what conditions.

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