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The ''Bundeswehr'' (, meaning literally: ''Federal Defence'') is the unified armed forces of
Germany Germany (german: Deutschland, ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in . It is the in Europe after , and the most populous . Germany is situated between the and seas to the north, and the to the south; it covers an area of ...

Germany
and their civil administration and procurement authorities. The
states of Germany The Federal Republic of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , languages = German language, German , d ...

states of Germany
are not allowed to maintain armed forces of their own, since the
German Constitution The Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany (german: Grundgesetz für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland) is the constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a g ...
states that matters of defense fall into the sole responsibility of the
federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized ...
. The ''Bundeswehr'' is divided into a military part (armed forces or ''Streitkräfte'') and a civil part with the armed forces administration (''Wehrverwaltung''). The military part of the federal defense force consists of the
German Army The German Army () is the land component of the armed forces of Federal Republic of Germany, Germany. The present-day German Army was founded in 1955 as part of the newly formed West German ''Bundeswehr'' together with the German Navy, ''Marine' ...
, the
German Navy The German Navy (german: Deutsche Marine; officially german: Marine ) is the navy A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily ...
, the
German Air Force The German Air Force (german: Luftwaffe, lit=air weapon or air arm, ) is the aerial warfare branch of the , the armed forces of Germany. The German Air Force (as part of the ''Bundeswehr'') was founded in 1956 during the era of the Cold War as th ...
, the Joint Support Service, the Joint Medical Service, and the Cyber and Information Domain Service. , the ''Bundeswehr'' has a strength of 184,017 active-duty military personnel and 80,698 civilians, placing it among the 30 largest military forces in the world and making it the second largest in the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
behind
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Western Europe and Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Ame ...
in personnel. In addition the ''Bundeswehr'' has approximately 29,200 reserve personnel (2019). With German military expenditures at $49.3 billion, the ''Bundeswehr'' is the seventh or ninth best-funded military in the world, even though military expenditures remain average at 1.3% of national GDP, well below the (non-binding) NATO target of 2%. Germany aims to expand the ''Bundeswehr'' to around 203,000 soldiers by 2025 to better cope with increasing responsibilities.


History


Founding principles

The name ''Bundeswehr'' was first proposed by former ''
Wehrmacht The ''Wehrmacht'' (, ) was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the German Army (1935–1945), ''Heer'' (army), the ''Kriegsmarine'' (navy) and the ''Luftwaffe'' (air force). The designation "''Wehrmacht ...
'' general and
Liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a Liberal Party Arts, entertainment and media *''El Liberal'', a Spanish newspaper published betw ...
politician
Hasso von Manteuffel Hasso Eccard von Manteuffel (14 January 1897 – 24 September 1978) was a German general during World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to ...
. The
Iron Cross Reverse side of the above cross showing eight metal loops for stitching the award to the left side of the uniform breast. The Iron Cross (german: Eisernes Kreuz, , abbreviated EK) was a military decoration Military awards and decoratio ...

Iron Cross
''(Eisernes Kreuz)'' is its official emblem. It is a symbol that has a long association with the military of Germany. The ''Schwarzes Kreuz'' is derived from the black cross insignia of the medieval
Teutonic knights The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem (official names: la, Ordo domus Sanctae Mariae Theutonicorum Hierosolymitanorum; german: Orden der Brüder vom Deutschen Haus der Heiligen Maria in Jerusalem), commonly known ...
; since 1813 the symbol has been used to denote a military decoration for all ranks. When the ''Bundeswehr'' was established in 1955, its founding principles were based on developing a completely new military force for the defence of
West Germany West Germany is the common English name for the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG; german: Bundesrepublik Deutschland , BRD) between its formation on 23 May 1949 and the German reunification German reunification (german: Deutsche Wieder ...
. In this respect the ''Bundeswehr'' did not consider itself to be a successor to either the ''
Reichswehr The Reichswehr (‘Reich defense’) was the official name of the German armed forces from 1919 to 1935, during the Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: Weimarer Republik ) was the German state from 1918 to 1933, as it existed as ...
'' (1921–1935) of the
Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic (german: Weimarer Republik ) was the German state from 1918 to 1933 when it functioned as a federal constitutional republic. The state was officially named the German Reich (german: Deutsches Reich, link=no, label=none), ...
or ''
Wehrmacht The ''Wehrmacht'' (, ) was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the German Army (1935–1945), ''Heer'' (army), the ''Kriegsmarine'' (navy) and the ''Luftwaffe'' (air force). The designation "''Wehrmacht ...
'' (1935–1946). Neither does it adhere to the traditions of any former German military organization. Its official ethos is based on three major themes: *the aims of the military reformers at the beginning of the 19th century such as , , and
Clausewitz Carl Philipp Gottfried (or Gottlieb) von Clausewitz (; – ) was a Prussian general and military theorist who stressed the "moral" (meaning, in modern terms, psychological Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology incl ...

Clausewitz
*the conduct displayed by members of the military resistance against Adolf Hitler, especially the attempt of
Claus von Stauffenberg Claus Philipp Maria Justinian Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (; 15 November 1907 – 21 July 1944) was a German army officer best known for his failed attempt on 20 July 1944 to assassinate Adolf Hitler at the Wolf's Lair and remove the Nazi Par ...
and
Henning von Tresckow Henning Hermann Karl Robert von Tresckow (; 10 January 1901 – 21 July 1944) was an officer in the Nazi Germany, German Army who helped organize German resistance against Adolf Hitler. He attempted to assassinate Hitler on 13 March 1943 and drafte ...
to assassinate him. *its own tradition since 1955. One of the most visible traditions of the modern ''Bundeswehr'' is the '' Großer Zapfenstreich''; this is a form of
military tattoo A military tattoo is a performance of music or display of armed forces in general. The term comes from the early 17th-century Dutch phrase ''doe den tap toe'' ("turn off the tap"), a signal sounded by drummers or trumpeters to instruct innkeepers ...
that has its origins in the ''
landsknecht The (also rendered as ''Landsknechts''; singular: , ) were Germanic mercenaries used in pike and shot formations during the early modern period. Consisting predominantly of pikemen and supporting infantry, foot soldiers, their front line was f ...

landsknecht
'' era. The FRG reinstated this formal military ceremony in 1952, three years before the foundation of the ''Bundeswehr''. Today it is performed by a military band with 4 fanfare trumpeters and timpani, a corps of drums, up to two escort companies of the ''Bundeswehrs ''
Wachbataillon The Wachbataillon (full name: ''Wachbataillon beim Bundesministerium der Verteidigung'' (WachBtl BMVg) (Guard battalion at the Federal Ministry of Defence (Germany), Federal Ministry of Defence)) is the Germany, German ''Bundeswehr's'' elite drill ...
'' (or another deputized unit) and Torchbearers. The ''Zapfenstreich'' is only performed during national celebrations or solemn public commemorations. It can honour distinguished persons present such as the German federal president or provide the conclusion to large military exercises. Another important tradition in the modern German armed forces is the '' Gelöbnis''; the solemn oath made by conscripts ( until 2011) now recruits during basic training and serving professional soldiers. There are two kinds of oath: for conscripts/recruits it is a pledge but it's a solemn vow for full-time personnel. The pledge is made annually on 20 July, the date on which a group of ''Wehrmacht'' officers attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944. Recruits from the ''Bundeswehrs ''Wachbataillon'' make their vow (''Gelöbnis'') at the
Bendlerblock The Bendlerblock is a building complex in the Tiergarten district of Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, ...

Bendlerblock
in Berlin. This was the headquarters of the resistance but also where the officers were summarily executed following its failure. National commemorations are held nearby within the grounds of the ''Reichstag''. Similar events also take place across the German Republic. Since 2011 (when conscription was suspended), the wording of the ceremonial vow for full-time recruits and volunteer personnel is: ::''"Ich gelobe, der Bundesrepublik Deutschland treu zu dienen und das Recht und die Freiheit des deutschen Volkes tapfer zu verteidigen."'' ::: Serving ''Bundeswehr'' personnel replace ''"Ich gelobe'', ..." with "''Ich schwöre'', ..." ("I vow to...").


Cold War: 1955–1990

After World War II the responsibility for the security of Germany as a whole rested with the four Allied Powers: the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
. Germany had been without armed forces since the ''
Wehrmacht The ''Wehrmacht'' (, ) was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the German Army (1935–1945), ''Heer'' (army), the ''Kriegsmarine'' (navy) and the ''Luftwaffe'' (air force). The designation "''Wehrmacht ...
'' was dissolved following
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. When the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in 1949, it was without a military. Germany remained completely demilitarized and any plans for a German military were forbidden by Allied regulations. Some naval mine-sweeping units continued to exist, but they remained unarmed and under Allied control and did not serve as a national defence force. The Federal Border Protection Force, a mobile, lightly armed police force of 10,000 men, was formed on 14 March 1951 and expanded to 20,000 men on 19 June 1953. A proposal to integrate West German troops with soldiers of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy in a
European Defence Community The Treaty establishing the European Defence Community, also known as the Treaty of Paris, is an unratified treaty signed on 27 May 1952 by the six 'inner' countries of European integration European integration is the process of industrial ...

European Defence Community
was proposed but never implemented. There was a discussion among the United States, the United Kingdom and France over the issue of a revived (West) German military. In particular, France was reluctant to allow Germany to rearm in light of recent history (Germany had invaded France twice in living memory, in
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
and
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, and also defeated France in the
Franco-German War The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War,, german: Deutsch-Französischer Krieg often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire The Second French Empire (), officially the French Empire ( ...
of 1870/71. However, after the project for a
European Defence Community The Treaty establishing the European Defence Community, also known as the Treaty of Paris, is an unratified treaty signed on 27 May 1952 by the six 'inner' countries of European integration European integration is the process of industrial ...

European Defence Community
failed in the French National Assembly in 1954, France agreed to West German accession to
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance A military alliance is a formal agreement betwe ...
and rearmament. With growing tensions between the Soviet Union and the West, especially after the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It b ...

Korean War
, this policy was to be revised. While the
German Democratic Republic German(s) may refer to: * Germany (of or related to) **Germania (historical use) * Germans, citizens of Germany, people of German ancestry, or native speakers of the German language ** For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law **Ger ...
(East Germany) 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 Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer (; 5 January 1876 – 19 April 1967) was a German statesman who served as the first Chancellor Chancellor ( la, links=no, cancellarius) is a title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. ...

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 The Federal Ministry of Defence (german: Bundesministerium der Verteidigung), abbreviated BMVg, is a top-level Federal agency (Germany), federal agency, headed by the Federal Minister of Defence as a member of the Cabinet of Germany. The ministry ...
'' (Blank Agency, named after its director
Theodor Blank Theodor Anton Blank (19 September 1905 – 14 May 1972) was a German politician of the CDU. He was one of the founders of the CDU in 1945. Blank was born in Elz an der Lahn. He was the third of ten children of a carpenter. His family was ...
), 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 Hasso Eccard von Manteuffel (14 January 1897 – 24 September 1978) was a German general during World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to ...
, a former general of the ''Wehrmacht'' and liberal politician, submitted the name ''Bundeswehr'' for the new forces. This name was later confirmed by the West German ''Bundestag''. The ''Bundeswehr'' was officially established on the 200th birthday of on 12 November 1955. In personnel and education terms, the most important initial feature of the new German armed forces was to be their orientation as citizen defenders of a democratic state, fully subordinate to the political leadership of the country. A personnel screening committee was created to make sure that the future colonels and generals of the armed forces were those whose political attitude and experience would be acceptable to the new democratic state. There were a few key reformers, such as General Ulrich de Maiziere, General Graf von Kielmansegg, and Graf von Baudissin, who reemphasised some of the more democratic parts of Germany's armed forces history in order to establish a solid civil-military basis to build upon. After an amendment of the
Basic Law In countries with uncodified constitution An uncodified constitution is a type of constitution where the fundamental rules often take the form of custom (law), customs, usage, precedent and a variety of statutes and legal instruments.Johari, J. ...
in 1955, West Germany became a member of NATO. The first public military review took place at Andernach, in January 1956. A US
Military Assistance Advisory Group Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) is a designation for United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country in . It consists of 50 , a , five majo ...
(MAAG) helped with the introduction of the ''Bundeswehrs initial equipment and war material, predominantly of American origin. In 1956,
conscription Conscription, sometimes called the draft in the United States, is the mandatory enlistment of people in a national service National service is a system of either compulsory or voluntary government service, usually military service Mili ...

conscription
for all men between the ages of 18 and 45 was reintroduced, later augmented by a civil alternative with longer duration (see
Conscription in Germany The Federal Republic of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , languages = German language, German , demonym ...
). In response,
East Germany East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic (GDR; german: Deutsche Demokratische Republik, , DDR, ), was a state that existed from 1949 to 1990 in eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current ...
formed its own military force, the ''
Nationale Volksarmee The National People's Army (german: Nationale Volksarmee, , NVA, ) were the armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically off ...
'' (NVA), in 1956, with conscription being established only in 1962. The ''
Nationale Volksarmee The National People's Army (german: Nationale Volksarmee, , NVA, ) were the armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically off ...
'' was eventually dissolved with the
reunification of Germany German reunification (german: link=no, Deutsche Wiedervereinigung) was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , ...
in 1990. Compulsory conscription was suspended – but not completely abolished as an alternative – in January 2011. During the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
the ''Bundeswehr'' was the backbone of NATO's conventional defence in Central Europe. It had a strength of 495,000 military and 170,000 civilian personnel. Although Germany had smaller armed forces than France and the United States, Cold War Historian
John Lewis Gaddis John Lewis Gaddis (born 1941) is the Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University Yale University is a private Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athl ...
assesses the ''Bundeswehr'' as "perhaps world's best army". The Army consisted of three corps with 12 divisions, most of them heavily armed with tanks and APCs. The ''Luftwaffe'' owned significant numbers of tactical combat aircraft and took part in NATO's integrated air defence (NATINAD). The Navy was tasked and equipped to defend the , to provide escort reinforcement and resupply shipping in the
North Sea The North Sea is a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
and to contain the Soviet Baltic Fleet. During this time the ''Bundeswehr'' did not take part in combat operations. However, there were a number of large-scale training exercises resulting in operational casualties. The first such incident was in June 1957, when 15 paratroop recruits drowned in the Iller river, Bavaria.


German Reunification 1990

At the time of reunification, the German military boasted a manpower of some 585,000 soldiers. As part of the
German reunification German reunification (german: Deutsche Wiedervereinigung) was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic German(s) may refer to: * Germany (of or related to) **Germania (historical use) * Germans, citizens of Germany, peop ...
process, under the
Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany The Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany (german: Vertrag über die abschließende Regelung in Bezug auf Deutschland; rus, Договор об окончательном урегулировании в отношении Гер ...
(Two-Plus Four Treaty), which paved the way for reunification, the ''Bundeswehr'' was to be reduced to 370,000 personnel, of whom no more than 345,000 were to be in the Army and Air Force. This would be Germany's contribution to the
Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe The original Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) was negotiated and concluded during the last years of the Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officia ...
, and the restrictions would enter into force at the time the CFE treaty would. As a result, the ''Bundeswehr'' was significantly reduced, and the former East German ''
Nationale Volksarmee The National People's Army (german: Nationale Volksarmee, , NVA, ) were the armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically off ...
'' (NVA) was disbanded, with a portion of its personnel and material being 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 ranks, dependent on their individual qualification and experience. Many were granted and accepted a lower rank than previously held in the ''Volksarmee''. In general, the unification process of the two militaries – under the slogan "''Armee der Einheit''" (or "Army of Unity") – has been seen publicly 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. Most of the armoured vehicles and fighter jet aircraft (the ''Bundesluftwaffe'' – due to reunification – was the only air force in the world that flew both Phantoms and MIGs) were dismantled under international disarmament procedures. Many ships were scrapped or sold, often to the
Baltic states The Baltic states ( et, Balti riigid, Baltimaad; lv, Baltijas valstis; lt, Baltijos valstybės), also known as the Baltic countries, Baltic republics, Baltic nations, or simply the Baltics, is a geopolitical term, typically used to group the ...

Baltic states
or
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
(the latter received 39 former ''Volksmarine'' vessels of various types). With reunification, all restrictions on the manufacture and possession of conventional arms that had been imposed on the ''Bundeswehr'' as a condition for West German rearmament were lifted. Since 1996, Germany also has its own special forces, the '''' (Special Forces Command). It was formed after German citizens had to be rescued in Rwanda by Belgian Para-Commandos as the Special Commands of the
Federal Police A law enforcement agency (LEA), in North American English, is any government agency responsible for the enforcement of the laws. Outside North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost al ...
were not capable of operating in a war zone.


Reorientation

A major event for the German military was the suspension of the compulsory conscription for men in 2011. In 2011/12, a major reform of the ''Bundeswehr'' was announced, further limiting the number of military bases and soldiers. The last reform set a required strength of 185,000 soldiers. , the number of active military personnel in the ''Bundeswehr'' was down to 184,017, corresponding to a ratio of 2.2 active soldiers per 1,000 inhabitants. Military expenditure in Germany was at $49.3 billion in 2019. German military expenditures are lower than comparable countries of the European Union such as France and the United Kingdom, especially when taking into account Germany's larger population and economy. This discrepancy is often criticized by Germany's military allies, especially the United States. In September 2014, the ''Bundeswehr'' acknowledged chronic equipment problems that rendered its armed forces "unable to deliver its defensive NATO promises". Among the problems cited were dysfunctional weapons systems, armored vehicles, aircraft, and naval vessels unfit for immediate service due to a neglect of maintenance, and serious equipment and spare parts shortages. The situation was so dire that it was acknowledged that most of Germany's fighter aircraft and combat helicopters were not in deployable condition. In 2015, as a result of serious NATO-Russian tensions in Europe, Germany announced a major increase in defense spending. In May 2015, the German government approved an increase in defense spending, at the time 1.3% of GDP, by 6.2% over the following five years, allowing the Ministry of Defense to fully modernize the army. Plans were also announced to significantly expand the tank fleet to a potential number of 328, order 131 more Boxer armored personnel carriers, increase the submarine fleet, and to develop a new fighter jet to replace the
Tornado A tornado is a violently rotating column of air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together compose about 0.043391% of the atmos ...
. Germany considered increasing the size of the army, and in May 2016 it announced it would spend €130 billion on new equipment by 2030 and add nearly 7,000 soldiers by 2023 in the first German military expansion since the end of the Cold War. In February 2017, the German government announced another expansion, which would increase the number of its professional soldiers by 20,000 by 2024.


Coordination with European Partners

The ''Bundeswehr'' is to play a greater role as "anchor army" for smaller
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance A military alliance is a formal agreement betwe ...
states, by improving coordination between its divisions and smaller members'
Brigade A brigade is a major tactical military formation Military organization or military organisation is the structuring of the armed forces of a State (polity), state so as to offer such military capability as a military policy, national de ...

Brigade
s. A further proposal, by Minister of Defence von der Leyen, to allow non-German EU nationals to join the ''Bundeswehr'', has been met by strong opposition, even from her own party. As a consequence of improved Dutch-German cooperation, 2 of 3
Royal Netherlands Army The Royal Netherlands Army ( nl, Koninklijke Landmacht) is the Ground warfare, land branch of the Netherlands Armed Forces. Though the Royal Netherlands Army was raised on 9 January 1814, its origins date back to 1572, when the was raised – m ...

Royal Netherlands Army
Brigades are now under German Command. In 2014, the 11th Airmobile Brigade was integrated into the German Division of fast forces (DSK). The Dutch 43rd Mechanized Brigade will be assigned to the 1st ''Panzer'' Division of the German army, with the integration starting at the beginning of 2016, and the unit becoming operational at the end of 2019. Also, the ''Seebatallion'' of the German Navy will start operating under Royal Dutch Navy command until 2018. The Dutch-German military cooperation is seen as an example for setting up a European defense union. Also the
Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Austria to the south, Germany to the west, Poland to the northeast, and Slovakia to ...
's 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade, and
Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions ...

Romania
's 81st Mechanized Brigade, will be integrated into Germany's 10 Armoured Division and Rapid Response Forces Division.


Command organisation

With the growing number of missions abroad it was recognized that the ''Bundeswehr'' required a new command structure. A reform commission under the chairmanship of the former President
Richard von Weizsäcker Richard Karl Freiherr von Weizsäcker (; 15 April 1920 – 31 January 2015) was a German politician (Christian Democratic Union (Germany), CDU), who served as List of German presidents#Federal Republic of Germany (from 1949), President of German ...

Richard von Weizsäcker
presented its recommendations in spring 2000. In October 2000 the Joint Support Service, the '''', was established to concentrate logistics and other supporting functions such as military police, supply and communications under one command. Medical support was reorganised with the establishment of the Joint Medical Service. In 2016, the ''Bundeswehr'' created its youngest branch the Cyber and Information Space Command. The combat forces of the Army are organised into three combat
divisions Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics) Division is one of the four basic operations of arithmetic, the ways that numbers are combined to make new numbers. The other operations are addition, subtraction, and multi ...
and participate in multi-national command structures at the
corps Corps (; plural ''corps'' ; from French , from the Latin "body") is a term used for several different kinds of organization. A military innovation by Napoleon, the formation was first named as such in 1805. The size of a corps varies greatly ...

corps
level. The Air Force maintains three divisions and the Navy is structured into two flotillas. The Joint Support Service and the Joint Medical Service are both organized in four regional commands of identical structure. All of these services also have general commands for training, procurement, and other general issues. The minister of defence or the chancellor is supported by the Chief of Defense (CHOD, '' Generalinspekteur'') and the service chiefs (''Inspekteure'':
Inspector of the Army The Inspector of the Army (german: Inspekteur des Heeres or ''InspH'') is the title held by the commander and highest ranking officer of the German Army The German Army (german: Deutsches Heer) is the land component of the armed forces of Federa ...
,
Inspector of the Air Force Inspector is both a police rank and an administrative position, both used in a number of contexts. However, it is not an Logical equivalence, equivalent rank in each police force. Australia In Australian police forces, the rank of Inspector is ...
,
Inspector of the Navy The Inspector of the Navy (german: Inspekteur der Marine) is the commander of the German Navy, Navy of the modern-day German Armed Forces, the Bundeswehr. Since the various bodies responsible for the high command of the German Navy were merged in ...
) and their respective staffs in his or her function as commander-in-chief. The CHOD and the service chiefs form the Military Command Council (''Militärischer Führungsrat'') with functions similar to those of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) is the body of the most senior uniformed leaders within the United States Department of Defense, that advises the president of the United States, the United States Secretary of Defense, secretary of defense, th ...
in the United States. Subordinate to the CHOD is the Armed Forces Operational Command (''Einsatzführungskommando''). For smaller missions one of the service HQs (e.g. the Fleet Command) may exercise command and control of forces in missions abroad. The ''
Bundestag The Bundestag (, "Federal diet (assembly), Diet") is the Germany, German Federalism, federal parliament. It is the only body that is directly elected by the German people on the federal level. It can be compared to a lower house similar to the ...

Bundestag
'' must approve any foreign deployment by a simple majority. This has led to some discontent with Germany's allies about troop deployments e.g. in Afghanistan since parliamentary consent over such issues is relatively hard to achieve in Germany.


Mission

The role of the ''Bundeswehr'' is described in the
Constitution of Germany The Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany (german: Grundgesetz für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland) is the constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the le ...
(Art. 87a) as absolutely defensive only. Its only active role before 1990 was the ''Katastropheneinsatz'' (disaster control). Within the ''Bundeswehr'', it helped after natural disasters both in Germany and abroad. After 1990, the international situation changed from East-West confrontation to one of 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 The Hindu Kush (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of ...
. This requires the ''Bundeswehr'' to take part in operations outside of the borders of Germany, as part of NATO or the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
and mandated by the UN.


Operations

Since the early 1990s the ''Bundeswehr'' has become more and more engaged in international operations in and around the former
Yugoslavia Yugoslavia (; sh, Jugoslavija / ; sl, Jugoslavija ; mk, Југославија ;; rup, Iugoslavia; hu, Jugoszlávia; Pannonian Rusyn Image:Novi Sad mayor office.jpg, 250px, Mayor office written in four official languages used in the ...

Yugoslavia
, and also in other parts of the world like
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to Cambodia–T ...

Cambodia
or
Somalia Somalia,, Osmanya script: 𐒈𐒝𐒑𐒛𐒐𐒘𐒕𐒖; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic of SomaliaThe ''Federal Republic of Somalia'' is the country's name per Article 1 of thProvisional Constitutio ...

Somalia
. After the 11 September 2001 attacks, German forces were employed in most related theaters except
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
. Currently (18 January 2021) there are 2,697 ''Bundeswehr'' soldiers deployed in: * **
Resolute Support Mission Resolute Support Mission or Operation Resolute Support is a NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental mil ...
*** 1,024 personnel * ** KFOR *** 64 personnel * **
UNMISS The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is a United Nations United Nations peacekeeping, peacekeeping mission for South Sudan, which became independent on 9 July 2011. UNMISS was established on 8 July 2011 by United Nations Security ...

UNMISS
*** 12 personnel * ** *** 0 personnel * **
UNIFIL #REDIRECT United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon ( ar, قوة الأمم المتحدة المؤقتة في لبنان, he, כוח האו"ם הזמני בלבנון), or UNIFIL ( ar, يونيفيل, ...

UNIFIL
*** 143 personnel * **
EUTM Mali EUTM Mali (European Union Training Mission in Mali) is a European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members hav ...

EUTM Mali
*** 75 personnel **
MINUSMA The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (, MINUSMA) is a United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security ...
*** 838 personnel *
Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsula of East Africa.Robert Stock, ''Africa South of the Sahara, Second Edition: A Geographical Interpretation'', (The Guilford Press; 2004), p. 26 Located on the ea ...

Horn of Africa
/ Indian Ocean **
Operation Atalanta Operation Atalanta, formally European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia, is a current counter-piracy military operation at sea off the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA) om, Gaafa Afrikaa, am, የአፍሪካ ቀንድ, yäafrika ...
*** 23 personnel *
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...
** Operation Sea Guardian *** 200 personnel *
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...
** Operation Irini *** 8 personnel * / ** Operation Counter Daesh *** 255 personnel * Western Sahara ** Minurso *** 1 personnel * ** UNMHA *** 3 personnel In addition to the numbers above, 51 soldiers are on permanent stand-by for medical evacuation operations around the world in assistance of ongoing German or coalition operations (Medical evacuation, STRATAIRMEDEVAC). 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. Since 1994, the ''Bundeswehr'' has lost about 100 troops in foreign deployments, including German Armed Forces casualties in Afghanistan, in Afghanistan.


Equipment

According to the new threat scenario facing Germany and its
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance A military alliance is a formal agreement betwe ...
allies, the ''Bundeswehr'' is currently reorganising itself. To realise growth in mobility and the enlargement of the air force's capabilities, the ''Bundeswehr'' is going to buy 53 Airbus A400M transports as well as 136 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters and also several unmanned aerial vehicle models. 57 Eurocopter Tiger, 100 NH90 (18 of them in the naval version) and 15 Eurocopter EC145, special forces helicopters are being delivered. For the ground forces it plans to produce 560 Puma (IFV), Puma infantry fighting vehicles, at least 403 Boxer MRAV, started to introduce a novel IdZ, land soldier system and a new generation of transportation vehicles and light vehicles, such as the Fennek, and KMW Grizzly. Further, the German Navy is going to build 4 new F125 class frigates, 6 new multi-role combat ships (dubbed ) and 6 Type 212 submarines. Image:Tag der Bundeswehr NH90 (cropped).jpg, NH90 helicopter File:GTK Boxer Fuehrungsfahrzeug front.jpg, Boxer MRAV Image:German Air Force Airbus A400M (out cropped).jpg, Airbus A400M


Appearance


Uniforms

The service uniform is theoretically the standard type of ''Bundeswehr'' uniform for general duty and off-post activity, but is most associated with ceremonial occasions. The army's service uniform consists of a light gray, single-breasted coat and darker grey trousers, worn with a light blue shirt, black tie, and black shoes. The peaked, visored cap has been replaced by the military beret#Germany, beret as the most common form of headgear. Dress uniforms featuring dinner jackets or double-breasted coats are worn by officers for various social occasions. The battle and work uniform consists of ''Flecktarn'' camouflage fatigues, which are also worn on field duty. In practice, they are also used for general duty and off-post at least at barracks where there is also field duty even by others, and for the way home or to the post, and generally regarded as the ''Heer'' uniform. In all three services, light sand-coloured uniforms are available for duty in warmer climates. In 2016 a new ''Multitarn'' pattern was launched, similar to the MultiCam uniforms of the British Army or US Army. A different, traditional variety of the service uniform is worn by the ''Gebirgsjäger'' (mountain infantry), consisting of ski jacket, stretch trousers, and ski boots. Instead of the beret, they wear the grey "mountain cap". (see Gebirgsjäger#Gebirgsjäger in the modern German forces, here for details.) The field uniform is the same, except for the (optional) metal ''Edelweiss'' worn on the forage cap. The traditional arm-of-service colours appear as lapel facings and as piping on shoulder straps. Generals wear an inner piping of gold braid; other officers wear silver piping. Lapel facings and piping are maroon for general staff, green for infantry, red for artillery, pink for armour, black for engineers, yellow for communications, dark yellow for reconnaissance and various other colors for the remaining branches. Combat troops wear green (infantry), black (armour), or maroon beret, maroon (airborne) berets. Logistics troops and combat support troops, such as artillery or engineers, wear red berets. A gold or silver badge on the beret denotes the individual branch of service. The naval forces wear the traditional navy blue, double-breasted coat and trousers; enlisted personnel wear either a white shirt or a navy blue shirt with the traditional navy collar. White uniforms provide an alternative for summer. The officer's dress cap is mounted with a gold anchor surrounded by a wreath. The visor of the admiral's cap bears a double row of oak leaves. The air force service uniform consists of a blue jacket and trousers with a light blue shirt, dark blue tie, and black shoes. Olive battle dress similar to the army fatigue uniform is worn in basic training and during other field duty. Flying personnel wear Aviator badge#After 1955, wings on their right breast. Other air force personnel wear a modified wing device with a symbol in its centre denoting service specialisation. These ''Tätigkeitsabzeichen'' come in bronze, silver, or gold, depending on one's length of service in the specialty. Wings, superimposed over a wreath, in gold, silver, or bronze, depending on rank, are also worn on the service or field cap.


Ranks

In general, officer ranks are those used in the Prussian and pre-1945 German armies. Officer rank insignia are worn on shoulder straps or shoulder boards. Army (''Heer'') and air force (''Luftwaffe'') junior officers' insignia are four pointed silver stars while field grade officers wear silver (black or white on camouflage uniforms) stars and an oak wreath around the lowest star. The stars and wreath are gold for general officers. In the case of naval (''Marine'') officers, rank is indicated by gold stripes on the lower sleeve of the blue service jacket and on shoulder boards of the white uniform. Soldier and NCO ranks are similar to those of the Prussian and pre-1945 German armies. In the army and air force, a ''Gefreiter'' corresponds to the NATO rank OR-2 and ''Obergefreiter'' as well as ''Hauptgefreiter'' to OR-3, while OR-4 stands for ''Stabsgefreiter'' and ''Oberstabsgefreiter''. An ''Unteroffizier'' is the lowest-ranking sergeant (OR-5), followed by ''Stabsunteroffizier'' (also OR-5), ''Feldwebel'' and ''Oberfeldwebel'' (OR-6), ''Hauptfeldwebel'' (OR-7/8), ''Stabsfeldwebel'' (OR-8) and ''Oberstabsfeldwebel'' (OR-9). Ranks of army and air force enlisted personnel are designated by stripes, chevrons, and "sword knots" worn on rank slides. Naval enlisted rank designations are worn on the upper (OR 1–5) or lower (OR-6 and above) sleeve along with a symbol based on an anchor for the service specialization (rating). Army and air force officer candidates hold the separate ranks of ''Fahnenjunker'' (OR-5), ''Fähnrich'' (OR-6) and ''Oberfähnrich'' (OR-7/8), and wear the appropriate rank insignia plus a silver cord bound around it. Officers candidates in the navy ''Seekadett'' (sea cadet; equivalent to OR-5) and ''Fähnrich zur See'' (midshipman second class; OR-6) wear the rank insignia of the respective enlisted ranks but with a gold star instead of the rating symbol, while an ''Oberfähnrich zur See'' (midshipman first class; OR-7/8) wears an officer type thin rank stripe. Medical personnel of all three services wear a version of the traditional caduceus (staff with entwined serpents) on their shoulder straps or sleeve. The officers' ranks have own designations differing from the line officers, the rank insignias however are basically the same.


Women

Women have served in the medical service since 1975. From 1993 they were also allowed to serve as enlisted personnel and non-commissioned officers in the medical service and the Military music, army bands. In 2000, in a lawsuit brought up by Tanja Kreil, the European Court of Justice issued a ruling allowing women to serve in more roles than previously allowed. Since 2001 they can serve in all functions of service without restriction, but they are not subject to conscription. There are presently around 23,066 women on active duty and a number of female reservists who take part in all duties including peacekeeping missions and other operations. In 1994, Verena von Weymarn became ''Generalarzt der Luftwaffe'' (Surgeon General of the Air Force), the first woman ever to reach the rank of general in the armed forces of Germany. For women, lower physical performance requirements are required in the basic fitness test, which must be completed at the time of recruitment and later on annually. The sex surcharge for the sprint test and the 1,000m run is 15%, for chin-up 40%.


Rank structure

;Officers ;NCOs and enlisted


Recruitment

With the suspension of compulsory military service in 2011 and the reorientation of the Bundeswehr, the military district recruiting offices were dissolved effective 30 November 2012. Their tasks were taken over by the newly created career centers of the Bundeswehr. The career centers of the Bundeswehr are the armed forces main way of presenting itself as a nationwide employer for both military and civilian careers. In the structure of the Bundeswehr's personnel recruitment organization adopted in 2019, there are five large career centers in Hanover, Mainz, Düsseldorf, Munich and Berlin with assessment centers. There are also 16 smaller, regional career centers, of which only those in Wilhelmshaven, Stuttgart and Erfurt have an assessment center. The 110 career counseling offices belonging to the career centers are combined with 86 location teams of the career development service to form 113 counseling offices. The Bundeswehr offers numerous career paths: * Voluntary military service (FWD) in Germany is an employment relationship for soldiers in a career of the lower rank Bundeswehr personnel. It lasts at least 7 and at most 23 months. Its legal status is similar to that of conscripts. * A temporary soldier (abbreviated SaZ, colloquially called Zeitsoldat) is a soldier who voluntarily agrees to perform military service for a limited time. A SaZ can enter all three categories (enlisted, non-commissioned officers and officers). SaZ recruited as NCOs and officers undergo general military, career and specialty training. The regular commitment period is a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 25 years, but may not extend beyond the age of 62. * Career in the Reserve: There are multiple career paths in the reserve of the armed forces for officers, NCOs, and enlisted personnel, as well as for civilians who have no prior military training.https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/slv_2002/__43.html


Awards

* Badge of Honour of the Bundeswehr, Badge of Honour of the ''Bundeswehr'' * Combat Action Medal of the Bundeswehr, Combat Action Medal of the ''Bundeswehr'' * German Armed Forces Badge of Marksmanship * German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency * German Armed Forces Service Medal * German Flood Service Medal (2002) * German Flood Service Medal (2013) * German Parachutist Badge


See also

* Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany * Defence Force (disambiguation), Defence Force * United Nations Training Center of the Bundeswehr, United Nations Training Center of the ''Bundeswehr'' * Day X plot, alleged conspiracy of ''Bundeswehr'' soldiers to murder left-leaning politicians * Controversy over Erwin Rommel as Bundeswehr's role model, Controversy over Erwin Rommel as ''Bundeswehr'''s role model


References


Further reading

*


External links


''Bundeswehr''
official site (in German)
Federal Ministry of Defence
official site (in German, English and French)
''Bundesamt für Wehrtechnik und Beschaffung''
official site (in German)
''Bundesamt für Informationsmanagement und Informationstechnik der Bundeswehr''
official site (in German)
''Territoriale Wehrverwaltung''
official site (in German)
Y – Magazine of the Federal Defence Forces
(in German)
''Zeitschrift für Innere Führung''
(in German)
''Reader Sicherheitspolitik''
(in German) {{Authority control Bundeswehr, Military history of Germany Articles containing video clips Permanent Structured Cooperation