Founding principlesThe name ''Bundeswehr'' was first proposed by former '' '' general and politician . The ''(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 ; 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 . In this respect the ''Bundeswehr'' did not consider itself to be a successor to either the '' '' (1921–1935) of the or '' '' (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 *the conduct displayed by members of the military resistance against Adolf Hitler, especially the attempt of and 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 that has its origins in the '' '' 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 '' '' (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 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: 1955–1990After 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 . Germany had been without armed forces since the '' '' was dissolved following . 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 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 and , and also defeated France in the of 1870/71. However, after the project for a failed in the French National Assembly in 1954, France agreed to West German accession to and rearmament. With growing tensions between the Soviet Union and the West, especially after the , this policy was to be revised. While the (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 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 '' '' (Blank Agency, named after its director ), the predecessor of the later Federal Ministry of Defence, was formed the same year to prepare the establishment of the future forces. , 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 in 1955, West Germany became a member of NATO. The first public military review took place at Andernach, in January 1956. A US (MAAG) helped with the introduction of the ''Bundeswehrs initial equipment and war material, predominantly of American origin. In 1956, for all men between the ages of 18 and 45 was reintroduced, later augmented by a civil alternative with longer duration (see ). In response, formed its own military force, the '' '' (NVA), in 1956, with conscription being established only in 1962. The '' '' was eventually dissolved with the in 1990. Compulsory conscription was suspended – but not completely abolished as an alternative – in January 2011. During the 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 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 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 1990At the time of reunification, the German military boasted a manpower of some 585,000 soldiers. As part of the process, under the (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 , 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 '' '' (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 or (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 were not capable of operating in a war zone.
ReorientationA 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 . 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 PartnersThe ''Bundeswehr'' is to play a greater role as "anchor army" for smaller states, by improving coordination between its divisions and smaller members' 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 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 's 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade, and 's 81st Mechanized Brigade, will be integrated into Germany's 10 Armoured Division and Rapid Response Forces Division.
Command organisationWith 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 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 and participate in multi-national command structures at the 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'': , , ) 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 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 '' '' 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.
MissionThe role of the ''Bundeswehr'' is described in the (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 . This requires the ''Bundeswehr'' to take part in operations outside of the borders of Germany, as part of NATO or the and mandated by the UN.
OperationsSince the early 1990s the ''Bundeswehr'' has become more and more engaged in international operations in and around the former , and also in other parts of the world like or . After the 11 September 2001 attacks, German forces were employed in most related theaters except . Currently (18 January 2021) there are 2,697 ''Bundeswehr'' soldiers deployed in: * ** *** 1,024 personnel * ** KFOR *** 64 personnel * ** *** 12 personnel * ** *** 0 personnel * ** *** 143 personnel * ** *** 75 personnel ** *** 838 personnel * / Indian Ocean ** *** 23 personnel * ** Operation Sea Guardian *** 200 personnel * ** 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.
EquipmentAccording to the new threat scenario facing Germany and its 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.
UniformsThe 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.
RanksIn 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.
WomenWomen 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
RecruitmentWith 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''