Issues Navigator

Global Challenges

Strategic Regions

Domestic Debates

Tag cloud

See All Tags

July 24, 2009 |  27 comments |  Print  Your Opinion  

Editorial Team

Topic Germany Goes on the Offensive

Editorial Team: The Bundeswehr pursues insurgents in Northern Afghanistan with heavy firepower. Members of atlantic-community.org, will this more assertive approach lead to more stability in Afghanistan? Has a “psychological threshold” been crossed in Germany?

The German armed forces are conducting their biggest operation yet in Afghanistan. The Bundeswehr is supporting the Afghan Army with around 300 members of the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) in operation "Eagle" against insurgents near Kundus. For the first time, infantry fighting vehicles with heavy firepower have been deployed.

German Army Inspector General Wolfgang Schneiderhan stated in a press conferences that "now is the time to carry out this escalation" because of the upcoming Afghan elections and the increase in attacks against the Bundeswehr. He also announced that the rules of engagement are currently being revised, reports the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German).

These changes in policy and language are quite remarkable considering Germany's history and previous Afghanistan engagement. Spiegel Online International explains:

For Germans, having their military on the offensive for the first time since World War II involves passing over a major psychological threshold. And it takes place in the context of a war that has grown more unpopular over the years, after having initially received widespread support. It's also a war that Jung -- to the consternation of many -- has refused to call a war.

In Thursday's newspapers, German commentators have mixed reactions to the news. Some are angry, while others seem almost fatalistic. But they all agree that a psychological threshold has been crossed and that Germany's "special status" in NATO is over.


Dear members of atlantic-community.org,

Has indeed a "psychological threshold" been crossed in Germany?

Do you think the Bundeswehr's more assertive approach in Afghanistan marks a permanent change in German defense policy?

Will this assuage criticism of a perceived lack of burden-sharing within NATO?

Do you think the German-Afghan offensive will be successful and lead to more stability at the Hindu Kush?

Is public support in Germany strong enough to accept a temporary increase in German and Afghan casualties, which is likely to happen during an offensive?
The United States started an offensive in Helmand province in early July and suffered 31 US casualties this month, a sad new record for the US in Afghanistan. Will the NATO allies' tough policy provide stability during the Afghan presidential elections in August?

Endnote: Newsy' press review discusses the prospects of Obama's new counter-insurgency policy in this video:

  • 10
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this Article! What's this?

 
 
Comments
Unregistered User

July 23, 2009

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
This definitely marks a permanent change in German security policy. I can not remember a General Inspector (Germany's highest military official) having ever publicly spoken of "escalating" a conflict. This means an offensive, active approach and is definitely a departure from Germany's old defensive, "we are just there to protect the population" approach.

It just wonder what has triggered this sudden mind-shift: I bet it was due to increased pressure my the US, the Obama adminstration respectively. As far as I am aware of, there has not taken place a public pr parliamentary debate prior to this surprising move. In Germany, we usually broadly discuss even tiny military moves.

This means that as soon as first casualties on Germany's side arise - in particular in the forefront of the general election in mid-September - the will be a big debate and the opposition will confront the government why there has not taken a debate before the escalation move. So lets wait and see what happens. This issue is not done yet!

 
Unregistered User

July 24, 2009

  • 0
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
It is a gamble. US is trying mantras which worked in Iraq temporarily as the latter now faces an uneasy calm regularly disturebed by the deats among the 'locals'. But Afghanistan is no Iraq. If history is any guide, the Afghan does not give up a fight against 'foreign occupation.' That way it becomes a desperate gamble whose cost could be enormous.
 
Bernhard  Lucke

July 24, 2009

  • 1
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
So we are going to rush over the Taleban in a blitzkrieg now, as we are finally allowed to go on the offensive. Certainly the war in Afghanistan will soon be over - and some minor casualties of our offensive will pay off, not at least because many American and British soldiers will be saved now since the Germans are finally really fighting.

I think this "escalation" is just one further step of slowly preparing the public for the "necessity" of more interventions abroad. Where are we going to attack next? Kongo? Somalia? Lebanon? Iran? North Korea? Georgia? Russia?

Due to the inability of the western powers to find a political solution for Afghanistan, the German mission in Afghanistan is slowly but surely leaving the very limited legal ground provided by the constitution. Further escalations and interventions abroad must be prevented.
 
Unregistered User

July 24, 2009

  • 4
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Thank God, it is about time the German people put the shame of the past behind them and take up their responsibilities as an intelligent, capable, and compassionate nation.

The Afghfan people need help protecting their democracy from the Taliban. Countries like Germany are finally stepping up to the plate.

 
Unregistered User

July 24, 2009

  • 3
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
It was already clear that there would be an offensive by ANA and the Bundeswehr in this summer due to the growing problems with Taliban insurgents, which stopped the whole nationbuilding and development work. Additionally the ANA forces in the northern region finally became combat ready, the QRF got over the transition period and the election campaign in Germany is more or less over and the area has to be repacified before the afghan election.

The rethoric is partially interesting but as usually accompanied by a harsh censorship/non-communication policy and therefore downplays the poilcy change at all. There is no footage about the operation eagle, the ROE was changed in near-secrecy, the mandat was changed via backdoor tricks etc.

From the beginning on (afaik Germany was the first troop contributor) Germany was psychologically ready for this as we have already shown in Kosovo or in Afghanistan with the KSK special force in non public missions. But as the MoD officially becomes more and more offensive the real problem with this conflict gets more and more dangerous for the whole german engagement. There is a reason why the MoD and the commanding officers avoid terms like "war" at all costs and constantly beat around the bush to describe the whole mission as warlike.

There is a great risk that the constitutional court will either call of the whole engagement or change the conditions in a way that will force the governement to fundamentally change the use of the Bundeswehr which will affect the engagement at least in a severe way. Why is this the case?
Our constitution, the 2+4 treaty and the former sentences by the constitutional court at this topic set very strict limits for an non-defensive engagement abroad. For Kosovo the tricky attorney-general was lucky to avoid a trial due to the fact that the "peaceful life" was already destroyed. This would not apply to Afghanistan. Even if the engagement would officially be declared as a war the emergency laws (origninally constructed for the WWIII vs. CCCP) would automatically kick in and this would not only be a legal nightmare and would complicate the civilian life to the extreme, it would complicate the mission and life of the soldiers as well.
 
Unregistered User

July 24, 2009

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
As a start no German soldier present and past should " be ashamed" of his
professionalism, like one of the contributors stated.
These special rules of engagement for German soldiers is like fighting
with just one arm, while the other is tight behind his back.
As to the German Constitution, one just has to amend it, like other countries
are known for doing.
Now let these boys fight as they were trained to do. There will be casualties, they all know that., but let them fight.

HRF
Tags: | athens |
 
Unregistered User

July 25, 2009

  • 1
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
German forces have a high professionalism in soldiering. To ask them too fight with restrictions that don't give them the protection they deserve is idiotic. In a fight soldiers have too be aggresive the German soldier is no different. The constitution maybe wary of commiting its troops but thast has nothing to do with todays German armed forces and the rest of the world has to get used to it as do the ordinary German man/woman in the street.

Other countries would, I'm sure would be relieved that the Bundeswehr are there I know I am.
 
Donald  Stadler

July 26, 2009

  • 0
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
"Certainly the war in Afghanistan will soon be over - and some minor casualties of our offensive will pay off, not at least because many American and British soldiers will be saved"

Many, Herr Lucke? There are 300 Germans fighting in Afghnistan. President Obama recently 'surged' 21,000 US troops into Afghanistan on top of the 40,000 or more already there.

Not so say the 300 German troops aren't to be commended, but it doesn't change much at core.
 
Unregistered User

July 26, 2009

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
I think next time Lucke will use some [sarcasm] [/sarcasm] tags for those without detectors.

@Stadler
You should not compare OEF with ISAF numbers.
The real problem was that the US wanted more troops for the IFOR but was in no way willing to accept that other nations would have a say in whats going on especially in the south. After what happend to german citizens in Afghanistan by OEF troops the MoD is walking on very thin ice for the whole engagement in Afghanistan. Guess why our Special Forces in the south were pulled out officially (though the captured a high ranking taliban leader last month)? Thats not a matter of willing or not, the constitutional court would sack everything, if they do a wrong (even unsignificant) step like calling the war in Afghanistan a "war" and similiar things - not to mention kidnapping and torturing german citiziens. Thats why we take care in ISAF of the North and West of Afghanistan and you only get help everywhere in the country by air, recon and special force, logistical and communitcation units which can easily be concealed or denied. Additionally we support you with unique material like the Leo 2A6 which were given to the Canadians.

As you may have noticed this 300 soldiers refer to the QRF which are normally the tactical reserve and stationed in the Mazar i Sharif area and not around Kunduz. The terrain doesn't allow larger scale offensives then the actual 1700 men strong Operation Eagle. We work together with the ANA because the ultimate strategical goal is to help them to secure themselfs and the conquered area has to be secured by local forces on the long run. Additionally the acceptance in the population is quite higher in this way. The actual number of germans in combat around Kunduz is quite higher, but the MoD has to downplay the number and the kind of the engagement as usual due to the legal and operational security issues. Nevertheless he has to announce it against his will at all , because otherwise he would get problems with the parliamentary control before the constitutional court.

Now you can demand that we change this silly constitution with the stupid reminiscene of WWII outcome and skip the whole 4+2 treaty. That we should look away if something is done soldateska like. But even if we would be able to change the constitution the simple problem remains that there will be no way that a conscription based army will engage without any limits if we have no saying what they do.

If you are only concerned about the numbers you should note that we are disburdening the US in other theaters like the Balkan and Somalia, that we will again step up the numbers after our federal election (because no one on the US side is interested in Afghanistan becoming a campaign issue), that we
constantly donwplay or conceal the number and kind of troops in combat. The "only" 300 soldiers in Operation Eagle are a whole PzGren Battallion 212 with combat-support by the mortar units of the FschJ Battallion 373. Additionally you should consider the proportion of combat:support which is usually 1:12 for PzGren. Even if the 1:12 number i was told in the '90ties is today lower and the FschJ only need lesser support you can do the math on your own. Thats a difference between the US/UK/CAN PR and the PR of Germany, France and other countries.
 
Florian  Broschk

July 26, 2009

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
It is long overdue, that the German focus in Afghanistan shifts to achieving something (and be it just help to the ANA), in contrast to just being present (which arguably did work on the Balkan).

Regarding the consequences for future German foreign policy, I see the opposite of Mr. Lucke's point - being reminded of the realities of military mission (no, it's not just smile and greet) the decisionmakers in Berlin will be even less tempted to engage in overseas missions. In the US, it was one of the common claims against the "COINdinistas" and the attempt to reorient the forces towards Counterinsurgency, that this will open the way towards ever more interventions. The debate is surely not over, but I strongly side with those, who point out that all who have really thought about Counterinsurgency, knowing its dangers, limits and shortcomings, will strongly speak out against adventures. Read David Kilcullen's book for a good example. In my opinion, it's the well-intentioned optimists who are prone to commit the military without achievable goals and a clear strategy. Our present and future experience in Afghanistan might help to prevent that.

I don't see any problems with the German constitution - ISAF is clearly a UN-mandated mission. Support to Afghan forces (ANA & ANP) - even with heavy weapons - is an essential part of this mission. So for me, our military reality just begins to live up on a larger scale to what we have committed ourselves to - perhaps back then we were blinded by our misguiding Balkan-experiences, but nonetheless we did. To put it another way: the Germans, who are proud that their concept of "Vernetze Sicherheit" is now mirrored by the famous "COIN is 80% civilian and 20% military" are increasing their efforts from "80% civilian and 2% military" to "80% civilian and 8% military". There remains much to be done, but the direction is finally promising.
 
Donald  Stadler

July 26, 2009

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
@Smoerebroed,

I am working too9 hard, didn't catch it. Plus, Germans aren't known for their irony exactly. So many of them are heralding this story as an enormous breakthrough - Germany is finally joining her allies!

Perhaps it is a breakthrough, psychologically. But it's extremely late and may not change too many people's minds in the other parts of NATO. Fact is, this ought to have occured in 2003. Or 2005, not 2009.

As for the limitations imposed by your constitution, I think there is a reason why Germany didn't change the constitution to fit the new NATO charter back in the 90's. I think Germans find it convenient to have a ready-made excuse not to come to the assistance of their NATO allies. It's far more pleasant to point the finger of blame and prate endlessly of 'war crimes', accuse others of being like the Paperhanger.

Think again. You have also created a ready-made excuse for your (now) nominal allies not to come to your assistance should it be necessary. You have poured acid on the sinews binding the alliace together. You have fundamentally weakened it, probably beyond repair.

After German (and central European) behavior of the past 20 yeat - well It's best you not rely on your 'allies' for too much. Just as we no longer rely on you.
 
Alexey  Krasnov

July 26, 2009

  • 1
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
I would like to comment on the 'psychological threshold' part of the article. It is certainly true that for Germany 'having its military on the offensive' is a great psychological challenge, which won't be readily accepted by some factions in the political elite and the masses alike. However, the fact is that such a change has long been waited for by many (particularly abroad) and indeed could be expected.

The sheer amount of operations Germany has been involved in after the Cold War (albeit with considerable self-imposed limitations), restructuring of the armed forces caused by the readiness to take more international responsibility and to move on from collective defence to meet security threats of the 21st century, gradual understanding that two 'Never again' principles are not always compatible in reality (so that it is not always possible to prevent Auschwitz by political and diplomatic means) are all examples of how Germany's position towards its participation in military operations has changed over the years. 'Never again war' is not the absence of fighting principle anymore. Now it also means that Germans might sometimes have to fight to prevent devastating and evil wars, started by the others. In this peculiar way, 'peace will emanate from German soil' and there is nothing bad about it. There is also nothing 'unexpected' about it. Many post-Cold War developments in Germany have long prepared the ground for the first offensive campaign to take place...
Tags: | Germany | Afghanistan | war |
 
Unregistered User

July 26, 2009

  • 3
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Where have I heard this before? More APCs, the use of the more mobile artillery, which are actually too heavy to deploy on the roads so basically are about as useful as fixed trench mortars in WWI, and relying on the Afghanization of the war effort. It's Vietnam all over again and again shows that unless the Germans are willing to go out into Indian territory they are essentially guarding their bases and maintaining use of the roads not ownership.

Chasing after Taliban irregulars after they have taken the first shot is not an offensive act but defensive. Operations that only last until nightfall and then withdraw for the night are hardly changing the complexion of the war except providing more tactical targets for the Taliban. And a thoroughly reliable timetable for the Taliban. This psychological breakthrough will occur when a soldier is given medals for killing the enemy and not just for good works or saving a wounded comrade.
 
Unregistered User

July 27, 2009

  • 3
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Allow me, after finding these discussions becoming more engaged:
I think one must agree that historicism, which started to carry acceptance around 1914, simply emphazises the importance of history as a standard of value, or precise signification to gain human maturity.
WWII should serve as a starting point, where Germany and Japan were
defeated, for which the atomic bombing of two cities in Japan, as well as the phosphor bombing of Germany's Dresden and Koenigsberg( now Russia's Kaliningrad) were significant contributors.
Significant in a sense, that this intended collateral damaging was found necessary to finalize WWII as allied victory.
Germany was supported economically in its rebuilding within the constraint of
a presribed constitution for democracy, while under the " eagle eyes" of
military parenting.
The new " Nachkriegs-Deutschland" developed in a confused stage.
The well-known American expression " two wrongs don't make a right ",
when applied to human rights, carried only weight when one is victorious.
It also became very obvious, that children's children of the defeated will be called upon, when such violations are judged to justify monetary restitution
for generations to come.
So, when it was then found approriate to institute a new military " the rules
of engagement" was nothing more than an "advanced infantry", supportive
to foreign existing military establishments.
As confidence was gained the new Bundeswehr under the watchful eyes of
still 52 allied bases in the country was judged to be more respectfull, but
still not trusted, as there still existed fear of remembering " a hisroric
military might".
This is now and Germans know, they can be as good as when compared
to other forces.
Unfortunately the other forces already know, that they can be better.
I feel that supporting a military partnership with the Bundeswehr, while
not curtailing its potential would be significant.

HRF





Tags: | athens |
 
Nikolina-Romana  Milunovic

July 27, 2009

  • 1
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
I think the point about not curtailing Germany's military potential made by Mr. Reuther-Fix is vital, however I disagree on another assertion:
Germany could not just add some amendments to its constitution as other countries did before. The German constiution is somewhat "special" as it has been alluded to before in regards to the psychological repercussion of WWII - one cannot easily alter it, because this would contravene the ideal of the founding fathers: making another dictatorship impossible and therefore hinder decision makers from changing the constitution too easily.
My quintessence being: a change of the constitution is a long and complicated process and maybe not always the first option.

While most members agree that (German) military deployment is necessary, I wonder what strategy should be followed- Adrian Hamilton from the Independent made an interesting point about that:
"If counter-terror and Pakistan's stability are our real concerns- as they ought to be-" then troops must concentrate on the real problem: the Afghan-Pakistan border.
Could this be the solution for Afghan stability?
(the article can be found under:
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/adrian-hamilton/a...
 
Pietro  Battistella

July 27, 2009

  • 1
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Contemporaney german history teaches us that this an important step in both Germany's foreign affairs and status among the other West Countries. Yes, I believe that it's the crossing of a psychological thresold and that this was a duty, although I can understand it was an tough one, for the Germany, in order to take his own responsability.

German situation in Afghanistan, where the real point is that the War is far away from the ending, reminds me the situation of us Italians there.
Recently, we got a couple of soldiers killed by taliban's mines and we are having an escalation of the conflict. We are fighting there as we never did. And there is still people in Italy claiming that in Afghanista we are not fighting a war, but we are in a peace-mission. This is ridicolous, hypocrite and extremely dangerous for our soldiers.
Official status of peace-mission don't let our army to be prepared and equipped as a conflict requests to be. We need clear and wider rules of engagement.
At the same time, we need a big and clear project for all the countries that are working there. This is the lack of these months. We need an exit-strategy that assure an autonomous, pacific and true home rule.

Years are passed by since the War in Afghanistan started. Which goals did we reach? What are our goals right now? Stabilizing the region? How? Why we didn't reach it so far?
Questions that deserve a careful consideration.
 
Julia  Follick

July 27, 2009

  • 0
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
While this certainly is a new development in German foreign policy, I don't think it's that important of one. The use of force is not like a light switch, switching suddenly from off to on. As many commentors have pointed out, the Bundeswehr has been moving slowly closer to this since the end of the cold war, and I expect Germany will continue moving slowly away from its previous policies as the wounds of its history heal and pressure from its allies mounts. To say that everything will be different from now on is not false, but it overemphasizes this one step in what will be seen in retrospect as a long path.
 
Unregistered User

July 29, 2009

  • 1
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
@Donald Stadler
We simply can't change our constitution and the 2+4 treaty in those core issues. Of course it is a problem especially if we think about a NATO chapter 6 case. But it was from the beginning well know to our allies and far more important one of the key issues that allowed the unification in the '90ties.

@Pat Patterson
Afaik the point was that beside APC they now use IFV. The ROE was changed to allow an offensive approach, which is critical considering the mandate. The operations are usually 24/7 and especially use the technical advantage during the night. Believe it or not it includes killing the enemy targets.

@General
The far more important topic in the whole Afghanistan theater is the lack of an long term perspective to key issues like Pakistan, Economy/drug related issues/corruption, the police and jurisdictionary system etc.
Germanies politicians are proud of their netted security (vernetze Sicherheit) approach, which has the civilian component of this ISAF mission as an key issue to establish longterm security. This strategy has failed so far and noone is willing to look into the causes for this failure. Germany hasn't provided enough troops to secure the area for "normal" civilian/NGO organisations. Germany did not invest enough money and effort into the infrastructural projects. Germany did nothing for the right material that is needed in this and comparable theaters (e.g. air transport, air to ground capabilites, helicopters etc.). There are of course relativly good excuses for these kind of failures but thats nothing against the major failure of Germany:

The (re-)building of the judicative system and far more important the police force. This should have been done by Germany years ago. Germany took over this task and failed in a horrible way. Over the 8 years only 160 milion Euros were spent, less then 5% of the needed trainings were conducted and the trainings were bad and concerned with issues that like traffic regulation instead of practical issues. The afghan police is underfinanced, unpayed, not equipped, untrained, unprotected, understaffed and has at this time no perspective. If Germany had succeded in this key assignment nobody would talk about the lack of effort in the military part , because the Afghan security forces would be able to tackle the most issues themselfs.
The undergoing offensive freed some districts like Char Dara from the Taliban but there is no police/security force to hold the ground after the operation and soon the Taliban will come back and the whole thing will start again.
 
Donald  Stadler

July 29, 2009

  • 0
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
@Smoerebroed,

"We simply can't change our constitution and the 2+4 treaty in those core issues. Of course it is a problem especially if we think about a NATO chapter 6 case. But it was from the beginning well know to our allies and far more important one of the key issues that allowed the unification in the '90ties."

I would be more sympathetic to your constitutional argument had Afghanistan been the first time we encountered this problem. Unfortunately, it is not . The constitutional issue was the main cause of Germany not making a combat contribution during the Kosovo War, was it not?

So the issue was encountered in 1997, and the Schroeder Government saw the contitutional impediment then. They sat on their hands and did nothing. When Afghanistan came they were unprepared, and seemingly unmotivated to address the problem, and thus left it to Frau Merkel to finally begin the process very late, with the result that Germany is finally began to deploy tiny numbers of combat-prepared troops (30 I think) in late 2008, and more substantial numbers (300+?) in mid-2009. So the rate of change has been agonizingly slow, when in the interim smaller powers have somehow managed to contribute many more combat troops, and the United States has of course contriibuted far more than that.

The slowness of German response is devastating to the alliance; the inaction of the Schroeder government created the strongest impression possible that Germany was the most unwilling of allies, and the very deliberate speed adopted by Frau Merkel has don little to dispell that impression.

Your allies are frustrated with you. Understandably so, I think - after a long 12 year wait....
 
Unregistered User

July 30, 2009

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Well you may have noticed that we took part in the Kosovo theater with air to ground forces (Jabogeschw. 32, Aufklgeschw. 51 Immelmann with a total of 7274 missions) and later with the other NATO allies in the ground operations with combat troops. That was under Schroeder and we are still there (afaik we are now the by far biggest troop contributor in this theater). Schroeder only got away luckily because the tricky general attorney found a way to avoid a lawsuit before our constitutional court. The 300 QRF guys are not the first combat troops in Afghanistan and of course not the first involved in ground combat. The KSK was in the south operating with the other special forces since the beginning (again under Schroeder). Both mandates got every time a 4 out of 5 party majority and only the Communist party blamed themselfs. There is clearly a political will.

But we simply can't change the constitution and the 2+4 treaty:

"Article 26 [Ban on preparations for war of aggression]

(1) Acts tending to and undertaken with intent to disturb the peaceful relations between nations, especially to prepare for a war of aggression, shall be unconstitutional. They shall be made a criminal offense...."

"ARTICLE 2

The Governments of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic reaffirm their declarations that only peace will emanate from German soil. According to the constitution of the united Germany, acts tending to and undertaken with the intent to disturb the peaceful relations between nations, especially to prepare for aggressive war, are unconstitutional and a punishable offence...."

The first one is part of our Basic Law. It can be changed with a 2/3 majority but it can't be changed in the intention and direction of its intention. It can be adapted to circumstances our fathers and mothers of the constitution could not foresee, but it can't be changed in the underlying proposition. The latter one is an international treaty and can't be changed at all without the acceptance of all four partners which is highly unlikly.
 
Unregistered User

July 30, 2009

  • 1
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Before i forget it, the first combat mission of the Bundeswehr under fire was operation Libelle where the US forces retreated with their helicotperts due to anti aircraft fire.

This was an EvacOp in Albania during 1997 and i think this must have been even under Kohl and conducted by semi-regular troops, because the KSK was still in the build-up and the DSO was at that time in the organisation phase, which forced the MoD to take some IFOR troops.
 
Unregistered User

July 30, 2009

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Smoerbroed-I used APCs and Infantry Fighting Vehicles interchangeably as there are still not enough of the latter to make much difference. As to changing the ROE even Der Spiegel remarked just last May that this change in tactics, there doesn't really seem to be a strategic goal in place, amounts to simply enlarging the defensive perimeter around bases, pursuing known Taliban leaders as constabulary adjuncts to the ISAF, dragging along reluctant members of the ANA in unarmoured trucks and using more APCs and IFVs to support convoy duties relevant to supporting its Provincial Reconstruction Teams. In other words the KSK is being used as SWAT in arresting someTaliban but not holding any ground to block the return of Taliban cadres.

I would certainly change my view if Germany was conducting nighttime operations but as yet can find no reference on the web most expecially the website of the Bundewehr or the ISAF as they are both silent on that action. I've asked several people returning from a tour or unit rotation if they had any information about nighttime operations of the Germans and the only ones they wre familiar with were counterbattery fire whenever a mortar round landed an Masar-al-Sharif though that is hardly definitive on whether such operations are taking place somewhere else. Starting a mission that starts in daylight and ends at night is not the same as actual nighttime operations. Germany, I repeat, has only tinkered with its original tactical ROE. It has not engaged the Taliban in any sustained manner which is exactly what the US and others in the ISAF are doiing on a village by village basis. I certinly hope that you do not mean that the Germans, with one squadron of Tornadoes (limited to aerial reconaissance, taking pictures) and less than a dozen heavy life helicopters, are relying on those assets to project superior technology into the battlefield.

Germany had an excellent army and air force in the late 60's and 70's. The air force pilots flying the likely to crash F-4 Phantom regularly provoked the Russian and East Germans along the border and off Kaliningrad on a regular basis. Trainers I knew that were attached to the the reserve army, I can't remember what it was called before 1989, spoke of them as being the best part time soldiers in the world. The joke went that this time the Germans were willing to fight till the death of the last Russian before ceding ground rather than fighting to the last German. But over the years the West and NATO got exactly what they wished. A weak German military that is no threat to its neighbors only now they are complaining about the creature they created.

The German military is poorly led (mainly by its senior officer corps and to a lesser extent its civilian leaders), kicked in the teeth often and then given morale destroying assignments that just as well could have been handled by traffic cops in Beemers. No amount of fudging press releases will change the fact that the Germans are only marginally more engaged now than before and instead of an actual change only minor adjustments to convoy tactics and constabulary work are touted as a new get tough, chest beating, version of the new improved take no prisoners German army. But put another way, if you are were on a LRP and found your line of withdrawal blocked and the choice of rescuers was between a company of Germans and a company of Gurkhas, who would you rather show up? Or more importantly who do you think will show up without a vote taking place in its parliament?
 
Unregistered User

July 30, 2009

  • 1
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
The difference between an APC and an IFV is ver obivou imho. The APCs are used only as armored carriers therefore they usually don't engage in combat, while the IPVs are especially designed for combat support against for example infantry units like the taliban.

The KSK missions are not public. The only known operations are the SWAT missions if they are successful but the main time they do the normal SF work in the south meaning, recon, target painting and special combat operations. The last information i got was that they were stationed only in the south, because they share the airlifting units/combat support/information structure of the other SF and are in an other chain of command then the usual ISAF troops.

On youtube you can see some nighttime operations of the german groundforces yourself. As usual only night time patrols/trainings without combat, because of the strict media policy of the MoD, but operations like the actual operation Eagle are conducted as 24/7 missions and the nighttime patrols are conducted at a regular basis due to the technological advantage meaning night vision and air recon/support due to UAV etc.:

A QRF night patrol in the -at this time taliban dominated- Chara Dara. The commentary is as usual incorrect but anyway it is only important if you understand german. And it is a typical news feed, because it concentrates on the personal story and you will at max see the soldiers fire at a target but in no way they will show the impact or the enemy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_D4VRnIAbw&feature=related

You don't need actually air to ground combat capability and if needed it can be and is provided by US forces. The technical advantage lies in the recon capabilites.Guess why they only used 400 rounds to kill 10 Taliban just recently.

Although i give you a point that the air to ground capability and the whole air transport capability is a shame. Airbus/EADS/Eurocopter etc. should be kicked out of the office of the MoD and tested, already available material should be ordered. The technical, knowlegde and financial issues behind those projects should stand in the back against the primary targets of getting the job done now with minimum casualties.

Likewise i agree with you that the problem is servere on the top and especially on the carrer soldiers. The reason for this again can be found in the approach "Staatsbürger in Uniform" (citzen in uniform) and in the whole concept of "Innere Führung" (inner leadership), which is oriented on standards that are not practicable in an asymmetric warfare.
 
Unregistered User

July 30, 2009

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Smoerbroed-Thanks for your response as I have gone to the Youtube videos which actually show patrols around bases and the cities that Germany is responsible. These are not really considered night time offensive actions but simply maintaining a perimeter full time. If the KSK is engaged in more operations than widely known then fine but they are not holding positions but still acting as a constabulary. I would suggest that you might send a letter complaining about using the GTK Boxer as a combat vehicle as it still is the primary escort and mobile patrol vehicle used by Germany. With grenade launchers and 12.7 mm machine gun it is actually much better suited to the task then an IFV because of its agility and extra armoured floors.

I couldn't agree more about your description of the various precepts that a German soldier is burdened with as instead of individual initiative in the face of tactical changes a German soldier may become psychologically isolated from his comrades, even for a second, when touting up all the caveats he must answer. But I think that "...threshold" not only hasn't been crossed but Germany doesn't seem to have even identified it yet. Unlike Caesar who knew exactly where the Rubicon was and his authority ended the current iteration of Germany is still flailing away, resentful of its perception by the other NATO nations as not serious, hesitant to act because of internal politics and being compared one particular prior German state.
 
Unregistered User

July 30, 2009

  • 1
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
I think Pat P. just identified the problem, the Germans are facing,--
they have no "Caesar", not even a democratic one ----- but this is exactly what the (Military ) World doesn't want the Germans to have.---
How would one qualify and quantify our economic assistance program
for the Afghans, after our Western Invention improved the opium
production to a 75% GNP contribution.
How would you evaluate our covert intellingence when the very people we praised for helping us to kick the Russians out of Afghanistan, are now
our declared worst enemies, our boys are getting killed for.---
"----- It seems to me now the conclusion for no progress in Afghanistan lies
with the Germans as judged from the moral high grounds of others----".

HRF



Tags: | athens |
 
Unregistered User

July 31, 2009

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
The only quibble I might make is that the Taliban had very little to do with fighting the Russians as they didn't even make much of an appearance until well after the Soviet withdrawal. The brunt of the anti-Taliban fighting both before and after 9/11 was carried out by Masood's Northern Alliance who in spite of being involved heavily into the drug trade are still considered the West's most reliable allies in Afghanistan.

I certainly don't want to leave the impression that I think Germany needs some man on a white horse but it does need to clearly define where is its Rubicon? Where is that moment, like the first Bush referring to burying the problems of US power by acting in the 2nd Gulf War without many of the restraints put on American action after Vietnam, that truly shows that the Germany today is not acting in fear of the ghosts of its past.
 
Unregistered User

August 2, 2009

  • 2
  •  
  •  
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Afaik the main problem with the Boxer is the combat weight with 33 metric tons. In the northern area this is much to heavy. Therefore they use IFVs with less weight and mounted FLW 100 or FLW 200 as a platform for grenade launchers etc. An additional problem is the lack of training and experience on the Boxer, due to the fact that the delivery started 2009 as the combat troops were already in their pre-deployment phase.

Concerning the night time mission stuff i already said that there won't be any footage of offensive night time operations, which show enemy encounter. The MoD is so strict about it since the Kosovo events that we are not going to see such footage. The video shows an unsuccessful offensive mission in the Chara Dara district (then Taliban stronghold), where the taliban sucessfully changed positions. I don't think that such a video would be published with a real engagement, hence we are lucky to see a night time operation at all.

If we talk about the rubicon i see again the main problem in our constitution and therefore an "offensive war". Concerning the psychological threshold for the population that would be germans killing civilians. Collateral damage is a harder problem for a conscription based army, that is told over and over that they fight for peace and human rights and that their main focus should be to help the civilians. Maybe we will see a change after the federal election with a change to a professional army but even then there is the problem with the self image of the soldiers and army and additionally the nation in relation to their image of their army and soldiers. This "Innere Führung" and "Staatsbürger in Uniform" was created to bind the army to the constitution and was no problem in the old conflict models against the CCCP and other symetrical wars. It is a great problem in asymetrical ones and till this date noone has found a real good solution to that. Maybe we will see a slow progressive habituation effect like in the last 7 years of engagement in A-stan but it is without doubt a fragile one.
 

Commenting has been deactivated in the archive. We appreciate your comments on our more recent articles at atlantic-community.org


Community

You are in the archive of all articles published on atlantic-community.org from 2007 to 2012. To read the latest articles from our open think tank and network with community members, please go to our new website