Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bundes Where?

Germany is returning to its Cold War role as a global player. During the Cold War, Germany played a global war because it was the battlefield on which America and the Soviet Union would have fought the main fight of World War III. The Germans had but to walk out their doors to participate in this global conflict.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Fulda Gap was no longer the fulcrum upon which the world could have been moved. The world moved away. Germany did not, of course, so Germany lost its global role. To regain a global role, Germany now needs a military that can deploy globally.

The German military is being transformed from one that tries to be one big immovable mass of anti-tank attrition power as it was in the Cold War to a power projection force. Operations in Afghanistan are the most visible and kinetic of the modern missions that could become more common.

This white paper (via DID) describes the transformation. The Bundeswehr (army) in particular will be refocused:

The Army is the core of the land forces and the mainstay of land operations as well as operations conducted by airmobile and air mechanised forces. The Army is geared to meeting future operational challenges, thinks and acts jointly, and, within combined structures with allied nations, is a linchpin in the multinational cooperation of the Armed Forces.

More than before, the Army’s capabilities are being tailored to conflict prevention and crisis management, including the fight against international terrorism, as part of multinational operations. For this the Army provides response forces capable of rapid, robust reaction and network-enabled operations for missions involving high-intensity conflicts, as well as for operations of special and specialised forces. A modular and highly flexible system of stabilisation forces is available at the same time for deployments on medium- and low-intensity operations. Such operations determine the Army’s capabilities and structures, and they likewise determine equipment planning, leadership, education and training. Their warfighting capability is still the common basis for all the force categories.

The rapid-response force will be small, 35,000, and is for high-intensity, joint network-enabled operations, evacuation operations, and joint support. It will have two armor brigades under one divisional flag as its core combat units.

The stabilization force is a second tier force. It will be 70,000 strong and geared for joint force contingents for low- and medium-intensity operations overextended periods of time, spanning the broad spectrum of peace stabilisation measures. These will be capable of generating 14,000 troops at a time for deployment. It will have two divisions with one tank, two mechanized, and one mountain infantry brigades.

The remainder of the 252,500 troops (including 2,500 reservists) will support these two forces.

There are also special operations forces and two parachute brigades under one division and an airmobile brigade and miscellaneous troops under another division. It is not clear where these units fall under the concepts. They are not high intensity warfare units, but they can be used to support them; and they are surely higher caliber than the stabilization forces, though they can support them, too. Also, there are units that are part of the French-German brigade.

This is an amazing shrinkage from the Cold War German army, but it will create a force capable of deploying overseas and fighting with our troops.

After forty years of having a global role without thinking of themselves of having a global role (because their global role took place inside German territory), the Germans are taking small steps to fight with allies around the globe and reclaim their global role. Right now, relatively small forces out of the total deployed fight in Afghanistan under NATO in this reclaiming of Germany's former significant role.

The question remains, where will the Germans be willing to fight when this transformation is completed? And will Germany once again become a close ally of America's as we once were when Germans and Americans stood side-by-side along the inter-German border?