Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Bundeswehr (German for "Federal Defence Force"; listen ) is the name of the unified armed forces of Germany.

General information

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 the German Democratic Republic 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 on 12 November 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 (NVA) which was eventually dissolved with the reunification 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.

The Cold War period 1955-1990
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.

Bundeswehr Unification of West and East Germany 1990
The role of the Bundeswehr is described in the German Basic Law (Art. 87a) as defensive only. Its only active role before 1990 was the Katastropheneinsatz (disaster control operation), where the Bundeswehr helped against tide or other natural catastrophes. 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.

Organization and command structure
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 (May 5, 2007) 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.


  • ISAF
    3,198 personnel

    • KFOR
      2,808 personnel
      Bosnia and Herzegovina

      • EUFOR (former SFOR)
        798 personnel
        since 2 December 2004 under European Union Command

        • UNOMIG
          11 personnel
          Ethiopia and Eritrea

          • UNMEE
            2 personnel
            Horn of Africa/Indian Ocean

            • Enduring Freedom
              258 personnel

              • Frigate
                Maritime Patrol Aircraft
                Mediterranean Sea

                • Active Endeavour
                  40 personnel

                  • UNMIS
                    39 personnel
                    Coast of Lebanon

                    • UNIFIL II
                      863 personnel

                      • 2 Frigates
                        4 Fast Patrol Boats
                        1 Fleet Supply Ship
                        1 Tender Operations
                        Former German military organisations have been the old German state armies, 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 organisation. The official Bundeswehr traditions are based on three major lines: Another expression of the traditions in the German armed forces is the ceremonial vow (Gelöbnis) of recruits, during basic training. Annually on July 20, the date of the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler by Wehrmacht officers in 1944, recruits of the Wachbataillon vow at the Bendlerblock, where the officers had their headquarters. The text of the vow is almost equal to the text of the oath of German soldiers: "I vow (swear) to serve faithfully the Federal Republic of Germany and to defend bravely the right and the freedom of the German people."

                        the defence reformers at the beginning of the 19th century such as Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Clausewitz
                        the members of the military resistance against Hitler such as Claus von Stauffenberg and Henning von Tresckow
                        its own tradition since 1955 Transformation

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