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White Paper 2006 on German Security and the Future of the Bundeswehr

White Paper 2006 on German Security and the Future of the Bundeswehr

Summary of the latest "German White Paper on German Security and the Future of the Bundeswehr" published in Berlin, twelve years after the last White Paper presenting the German Security and Defence perspectives. Source: Federal Ministry of Defence, Stauffenbergstraße 18, D-10785 Berlin, October 2006.

I.)  German Security Policy

Twelve years have passed since the publication of the last White Paper on the Security of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Situation of the Bundeswehr. During that time, the international environment has changed dramatically. Globalisation has opened up new opportunities for Germany, too. At the same time, the radical changes in the security environment have created new risks and threats that are not only having a destabilising effect on Germany’s immediate surroundings but also impact on the security of the international community as a whole. A successful response to these new challenges requires the application of a wide range of foreign, security, defence, and development policy instruments in order to identify, prevent, and resolve conflicts at an early stage. With its broad spectrum of capabilities, the Bundeswehr has been making significant contributions towards the achievement of this goal.

International terrorism represents a fundamental challenge and threat to freedom and security. Increasingly, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and of the means of their delivery has become a potential threat to Germany as well as other nations. In addition, Germany has been confronted with the aftermath of intrastate and regional conflicts, the destabilisation, and the internal disintegration of states as well as its frequent by-product – the privatisation of force. Strategies that were previously effective in warding off external dangers are no longer adequate against the current, asymmetric threats. Today’s security policy must address new and increasingly complex challenges. Effective security provisions require preventive, efficient, and coherent cooperation at both the national and international levels, to include an effective fight against the root causes. It is imperative that we take preventive action against any risks and threats to our security and that we address them in a timely manner and at their sources.

Germany’s security is inseparably linked to the political development of Europe and the remainder of the world. The united Germany has an important part in shaping the future of Europe and beyond. As a member of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO), Germany has proven itself to be a reliable partner. In these international ventures, as well as in the United Nations (UN), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and other such forums, Germany has been working towards the preservation of peace, protection against global threats, promotion of democracy and human rights, sustainable development, and cooperative security.

Since the mid-1990s, the organisations vital to the security of Germany – the North Atlantic Alliance, the European Union, the United Nations – have significantly evolved and adapted to the new risks and challenges. As a result, their member countries have taken on additional responsibilities. Bundeswehr personnel have been serving as peacekeepers in the Balkans, in the Caucasus region, at the Horn of Africa, in the Middle East, on the African continent, and in Asia. For several years, the Bundeswehr has consistently followed the path of transitioning to an expeditionary force, and it has been radically transformed along the way.

The process of global change will continue. In concert with its partners and allies, Germany has accepted the challenges created by this change, shaping it in accordance with its responsibilities and interests. German security policy is driven by the values set forth in its Basic Law and by the goal of safeguarding the interests of our country, in particular:

to preserve justice, freedom, and democracy for the citizens of our country, as well as their security and welfare, and to protect them from threats;
to assure the sovereignty and integrity of German territory;
to prevent, whenever possible, regional crises and conflicts that may affect Germany’s security and to help manage such crises;
to confront global challenges, above all the threat posed by international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction;
to help uphold human rights and strengthen the international order on the basis of international law;
to promote free and open world trade as the basis for our prosperity and, by doing so help close the gap between the poor and wealthy regions of the world

German security policy is based on a comprehensive concept of security; it is forward-looking and multilateral. Security cannot be guaranteed by the efforts of any one nation or by armed forces alone. Instead, it requires an all-encompassing approach that can only be developed in networked security structures and within the context of a comprehensive national and global security philosophy. One of its components is the Federal Government’s overall concept of “Civilian Crisis Prevention, Conflict Resolution, and Post-Conflict Peace Building”.

  • The transatlantic partnership remains the foundation of Germany’s and Europe’s common security.

 The North Atlantic Alliance will continue to be the cornerstone of Germany’s future security and defence policy. Forming the link between two continents, it provides unique political and military instruments for the maintenance and restoration of peace. In the long run, the global challenges confronting German security cannot be met without an effective transatlantic alliance that is based on mutual trust among its member states. The fundamental issues of European security can be addressed only in a joint effort with the United States of America, and this will continue to hold true in the future. However, the bonds between Germany and the United States must be continually cultivated and deepened through mutual consultation and coordinated action.

  • The European Union stands for political stability, security, and prosperity in Germany as well as its other member states.

It has evolved into a recognised actor in international crisis management, with an increasing capacity for taking action on foreign and security policy matters. As an integral part of the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, the European Security and Defence Policy has defined military and civilian headline goals, established politicomilitary structures for operations, created a European Defence Agency, and formulated its European Security Strategy. Thus, Europe now has the prerequisites to more effectively fulfil its share of responsibility for global security in the future and to contribute to making the world a safer place. One of the primary goals of German security policy is the strengthening of the European area of stability through the consolidation and development of European integration and the European Union’s active neighbourhood policy with the states of Eastern Europe, the southern Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Mediterranean region. Equally important are the development and reinforcement of a durable and resilient security partnership with Russia.

  • The strategic partnership between NATO and the EU is one of the pillars of the European and transatlantic security architecture.

The EU and NATO are not competitors; both make vital contributions to our security. Germany will continue to work towards improving the relationship between the two organisations in a manner that will lead to closer cooperation and greater efficiency, avoid duplication, and fortify European and transatlantic security in general.

Germany supports the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe as an important instrument of our foreign and security policy and seeks to strengthen its position.

  • The United Nations is the only international organisation that is universal in nature

Its Charter provides the fundamental framework of international law that governs international relations. As the expectations of the UN’s ability to maintain global peace have increased, so has the number of UN requests for assistance from NATO and the EU. The UN is of critical importance to the resolution of the multitude of issues that arise from an expanded concept of security. Germany fully accepts its share of responsibility to safeguard world peace and international security within the framework of the UN and is committed to strengthening the UN through fundamental and comprehensive reforms.

Arms control, disarmament, non-proliferation, and a restrictive armaments export policy will remain important elements of the German security policy that focuses on conflict prevention. In light of the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, special importance must be placed on strengthening the treaties regarding the prohibition and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the continuation of nuclear disarmament.

II.)  The Bundeswehr – An Instrument of German Security Policy

The Bundeswehr is an instrument of a comprehensive and proactive security and defence policy. Its mission is:

to guarantee the capacity for action in the field of foreign policy,
to contribute towards European and global stability,
to maintain national security and defence,
to provide assistance in the defence of our allies,
to foster multinational cooperation and integration.

An effective Bundeswehr is vital to a German security and defence policy that seeks to actively shape its environment. Politically and constitutionally, the Bundeswehr’s raison d'être and core function continue to be the defence of Germany against external threats. Additional responsibilities include the defence of allies in the event of attack and assistance in crises and conflicts that might escalate into actual threats. Thus, the central task of the Bundeswehr continues to be national and collective defence in the classical sense. However, the need for protection of the population and of the infrastructure has increased in importance as a result of the growing threat that terrorist attacks pose to German territory.

The Bundeswehr’s functions are derived from its constitutional mission and from the values, goals, and interests of German security and defence policy. They are:

international conflict prevention and crisis management, to include the fight against
international terrorism;
support of allies;
protection of German territory and its citizens;
rescue and evacuation operations;
partnership and cooperation;
subsidiary assistance (legal and administrative support, help in the wake of natural disasters and particularly grave accidents).

For the foreseeable future, the most likely tasks will be the prevention of international conflicts and crisis management, to include the fight against international terrorism. They will determine the structure of and exert significant influence on the capabilities, command and control systems, availability, and equipment of the Bundeswehr.

  • Internal and external security are increasingly intertwined.

The defence against terrorist and other asymmetric threats within Germany falls primarily into the purview of the Federal and Land authorities responsible for internal security. It is, however, permissible under current law to deploy the Bundeswehr and its available assets whenever a particular situation cannot be managed without its assistance. To date, the use of military munitions in such cases has been prohibited. The Federal Government deems it necessary to expand the constitutional framework in this regard.

The structure of the Bundeswehr is consistently oriented towards its operational needs.

Consequently, the German Armed Forces are organised into the categories of response, stabilisation, and support forces. They are trained, equipped, and deployed according to their respective functions. The Bundeswehr will continue to be a conscript force in the future; universal conscription has proven to be an unqualified success in varying security environments. The tenets of Innere Führung – leadership development and civic education – will remain the Bundeswehr’s guiding principles.

However, the effectiveness of the Bundeswehr depends not only on its personnel but also on the availability of financial resources. The ever-present dichotomy between the requirements of defence policy and the financial needs of other national tasks will continue into the future.
Today’s Bundeswehr has been shaped by international missions. Already, more than 200,000 military personnel have served on operations abroad. The cost to the Bundeswehr for humanitarian relief operations has also been steadily increasing over the past years, tying up its resources.

Successful missions require armed forces that can be deployed across the entire task spectrum. To realise this goal, the Bundeswehr is continuously working to improve its capability profile. This is achieved via targeted measures in the capability categories of command and control, intelligence collection and reconnaissance, mobility, effective engagement, support and sustainability, and survivability and protection.
Modern and effective armed forces are an element of national security provisions. The Bundeswehr has been adapting to the dynamic security environment through a continual process of transformation. This process is aimed at improving operational readiness across the entire mission spectrum and requires unconditional joint force thinking and action throughout the Bundeswehr as well as a stronger interministerial approach. At the same time, any development of existing capabilities must take into account the Bundeswehr's multinational engagement. The ability to conduct network-enabled operations will be a fundamental prerequisite for the Bundeswehr’s successful participation in multinational conflict prevention and crisis management.

In the future, national preventive security measures will be premised on even closer integration of political, military, development policy, economic, humanitarian, policing, and intelligence instruments for conflict prevention and crisis management. Operations at the international level will require a comprehensive, networked approach that effectively combines civilian and military instruments. The Federal Government is prepared to confront the ensuing challenge of continuously assessing and, wherever necessary, refining its instruments of security policy. This approach will best serve the security of Germany and, at the same time, contribute towards global peace.

Published by: Federal Ministry of Defence, Stauffenbergstraße 18, D-10785 Berlin. (October 2006)


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

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