Bundeswehr recruits fewer minors (neue-deutschland.de)

Osnabrück. In 2020, the Bundeswehr hired fewer minors than it has for seven years: 1,148 soldiers under the age of 18 were accepted into the force. Compared to 2019, this is a decrease of almost a third. This emerges from data from the Federal Ministry of Defense, which were available to the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” (NOZ, Tuesday). Almost 80 percent of the 17-year-olds employed were men. The proportion of minors among the new recruits fell from 8.5 to 7 percent compared to 2019. The decline started in 2018. In 2017 there were 2,126 recruits under 18, in 2018 it was 1679 and in 2019 it was 1705. Before that, the number had risen steadily since 2013.

The decrease is likely due in part to the fact that in 2020, a total of 16,442, far fewer people took up service in the troops (minus 18 percent compared to 2019). The criticism of the recruitment of minors has also had an impact. The left-wing defense expert Matthias Höhn criticized the troops’ advertising films in relation to the NOZ, “in which the service of the weapon is presented as a cool adventure”. The clips had “precious little to do with the real life” of soldiers. The “Under 18 never!” Initiative again called for the employment of minors to be ended. Her spokeswoman Sarah Gräber pointed out that countries like Somalia or Afghanistan refer to Germany to justify the use of child soldiers in their armies. nd


Europe now needs to be reformed from the ground up

Europe is at a crossroads. The political implosion of America’s once most important partner, the unresolved relationship with Russia and China, the economic upheaval as a result of Corona and the uncoordinated handling of this pandemic have led the European Union into a deep crisis.

As in other political and economic, social or ideological structures, the pandemic acts like a fire accelerator in the ailing building of the European Union. Weaknesses and omissions are revealed, old certainties dissolve, ignorance and repression no longer work.

The world we live in has little in common with that of the Cold War, which sank 30 years ago. The forces that determine our present can no longer be tamed by the means and methods of that past. If we want to control them, we have to ask the right questions, even if the answers are inconvenient. With this relentless diagnosis, a first step on the way out of the crisis has also been taken.

It is no coincidence that Europe does not have a common crisis management system in times of a pandemic. Because the health systems were never coordinated, so they are organized nationally to this day. States like Germany benefit from this because they rely on a consistent regulatory policy and therefore do not reject government guidelines from the outset.

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The billion-dollar reserves of the Federal Employment Agency and the statutory health insurances helped with the organization and financing of the first sweeping measures. So Germany went on its way in this serious crisis. The others went theirs. The paths were similar in some respects, but were not coordinated even under the impact of the pandemic.

The same applies to most areas of political and economic life. It can’t stay that way. If Europe wants to have a future, it has to be more than a well-established internal market, largely freed from stationary border controls, with a partially applicable common currency and a properly functioning crisis mechanism. For a “survival of the European project”, which French President Emmanuel Macron urged at the end of March 2020, this is by no means sufficient.

Founding spirit is necessary

What is required is that revolutionary verve, without which the founders 70 years ago would never have put what was then modern Europe on its feet. It certainly makes a difference whether six or 27 or – in the case of the euro zone – 19 partners are to be brought on board. But if you wait until everyone is on board, you postpone the revolution; if Germany does not come on board, it will not take place.

The mountains of credit and debt show that repair work within the existing system is no longer enough. Without a communitisation of debts, which can only be envisaged by reformulating the entire European treaty, this permanent problem cannot be solved. Of course, the further development of a currency union into a fiscal union is not without risk. But if you shy away from that, you shouldn’t even start building Europe.

The conditions under which the Eurogroup promised some of its particularly troubled members the urgently needed support after the severe financial crisis of 2008/9 urge caution today. The drastic budget cuts that they and other institutions demanded from the particularly affected countries in return for lending were ultimately at the expense of the health care system. To let these states fall into such traps again with ever new loans and austerity would be short-sighted.

We Germans in particular should recognize that the southern European countries are more than popular holiday destinations. They are guarantors of the economic stability of Europe. After Great Britain left, almost 53 percent of German exports of goods still go to the countries of the European Union. Countries like Greece, Italy, Spain or France guarantee our jobs and our prosperity. That they hold us jointly responsible for their stability and survival in times of existential crises is understandable.

Reconstruction aid was a first step

Therefore, the decision of the European heads of state and government in July 2020 to finance a little more than half of the so-called Corona reconstruction aid of 750 billion euros through joint borrowing was a first step on the right path. Just as the compromise on the so-called rule of law mechanism of November 2020 was a step forward.

Assuming the approval of Parliament and the Council of the EU, the EU Commission can in future propose to withdraw funds from various European funds from a country if it violates binding principles of the rule of law. So far, Europe has not found the courage to follow these paths consistently. This is not surprising, because the contractual requirements are currently missing.

Europe has no choice. If it does not want to fail irrevocably, some states, including the economic power Germany and the nuclear power France, must take action. That sounds more daring than it actually is. There are precedents. In 1951, six states brought into being the so-called coal and steel union, the nucleus of today’s EU; In 1999, after years of preparation, eleven EU states, including its six founding members, introduced a common currency and thereby renounced an essential feature of nation-state sovereignty. This is one of the reasons why there is much to suggest that the initiative for a new Europe must come from within this so-called Euro Group.

The principles on which the initiators must agree include: the implementation of the majority vote in a format that is based on the failed constitution of October 2004; the possibility of effective sanctions up to and including the exclusion of members who do not comply with common legal provisions or, for example, in the case of jointly incurred debts, fail to comply with decisions of the community; the further development of the monetary union into a fiscal union; the definition of a closed European legal system; the development of a practicable migration and asylum policy; the formulation of a binding and sustainable resource, energy and environmental strategy and, last but not least, a supranational army worthy of the name.

European army with French nuclear weapons

Whoever wants this army must insist that the French nuclear weapons be brought into it. This has so far been categorically ruled out by Paris. Macron’s offer to enter into a dialogue with the European partners about these systems should be accepted. Every step that leads us out of the impasse in which European defense policy has been stuck for 70 years is worth taking.

In the spring of 2020, EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell summed up where we stand against the backdrop of the escalating situation in the Syrian region of Idlib: “We would like to speak the language of power, but at the moment we cannot decide for ourselves. “This helplessness is pathetic. And it’s dangerous. Because without its own, globally operational army, a Europe that is left to its own devices in the event of doubt will neither be able to cope with the future tasks nor will the continent count on American support.

Since NATO, too, has seen its prime in 30 years, such an army is also a crucial prerequisite for transforming the frozen transatlantic alliance into a living partnership. The times in which we Europeans leaned back, let America take care of things and often accompanied American crisis management with arrogant comments are over.

In the foreseeable future, the United States will withdraw from the African and Oriental crisis areas, i.e. from regions of the world whose development is of little importance for it, but of existential importance for Europe.
Against this background, we have no choice but to get involved on the ground massively, possibly also militarily, as the French are currently doing in the Sahel zone.

Germany must not leave defense to others

Because this ties up forces and costs money, Paris twice asked Germany in 2019 whether it could provide capacities for training and supporting special military forces. In relation to the latter, the answer was a smooth rebuff, and that also meant that dangerous missions such as the smashing of the Al-Qaeda leadership in the Sahel zone in spring 2020 were left to others.

Of course, the decision to provide the Bundeswehr with a so-called robust mandate for its foreign missions needs to be carefully examined on a case-by-case basis. But those who basically leave these and other tasks to others not only contribute to the fact that the facade of European solidarity, which has been painstakingly maintained, continues to crumble, but also refuses to recognize that elementary tasks can only be tackled together.

This includes combating the causes that force hundreds of thousands to leave their homes and migrate north. We share responsibility for these causes. Because we knew what was coming. Those who do not believe this should read the report of the Commission for International Development Issues, the so-called North-South Commission, which Willy Brandt, its chairman, presented to the Secretary General of the United Nations in February 1980.

Kill the “monster of Maastricht”

We ignored that. We suppressed it. We thought we could get away with handouts. Today it is too late for strategic preventive intervention in most cases. What remains is the fight against wars and massacres, fires and floods, plagues and epidemics on site: by all means, quickly, specifically, massively and – if there is no other way, as with the fight against terrorism or smuggling crime – military. We Europeans can only achieve this if our common house has a solid foundation.

Which means that the timetable is fixed: first the foundation, then the house. The design flaw of today’s European Union, which was launched in February 1992 with the Maastricht Treaty and cemented in the subsequent treaties, must under no circumstances be repeated. If the initiators want a political union that deserves this name, they have to forego a significant part of their nation-state sovereignty without any ifs or buts.

If they do so, they will inevitably also succumb to the monstrosity of Maastricht, the 250-page compromise with which the heads of state and government did not dare to start again, but instead transferred an outdated order from the divided to the globalized world. The chance that Europe will bring itself to these and other decisions is slim. But there is. We should use it.
The text is a preprint of the book by Gregor Schöllgen and Gerhard Schröder “Last Chance. Why we need a new world order now, ”which is being published by DVA these days.

More: The EU wants to distribute billions of euros – but Italy and Spain have problems


Protection against the virus: Bundeswehr checks compulsory corona vaccination

Dhe Bundeswehr is about to make a decision on expanding compulsory vaccinations to include protection against the coronavirus. An examination is in progress, confirmed a spokesman for the defense ministry of the German press agency. Currently, “a decision is being prepared as to whether and when the vaccination against Sars-CoV-2 can be included in the portfolio of vaccinations for which the Bundeswehr is subject to tolerance”. The magazine “Spiegel” reported in December that the general physician had recommended the Bundeswehr to include vaccination against the virus in the so-called basic vaccination protection for all soldiers.

From the military’s point of view, vaccination protection has proven its worth, especially when it comes to immunizing contingents for foreign missions. “Due to the special conditions of the close coexistence in the operations and also in communal accommodation in Germany, soldiers per se are exposed to a relatively higher risk of infection than other population groups,” said the spokesman. “That is why vaccinations in the Bundeswehr are always aimed at protecting the community and the individual at the same time, and the obligation to tolerate is an important instrument for achieving the necessary vaccination rates for herd immunity.”

The ministry also points out that the new vaccines against Sars-CoV-2 were approved in Germany quickly, but no less thoroughly than other vaccines that were introduced. “In order to achieve this level of security, the emergency approval procedure was deliberately avoided in Germany. The Sars-CoV-2 vaccines meet all the requirements for drug safety and effectiveness. “The federal government excludes a general corona vaccination obligation and also a special one for nursing staff or the health care system.

In the Bundeswehr, the obligation to tolerate vaccination and preventive measures was introduced a few years ago. The principle of proportionality must be observed, especially with a view to possible side effects of the vaccination. If there are serious complications, claims under pension law arise. However: if vaccinations are refused, there is a risk of “legal consequences”.

The Soldiers Act provides the basis for this. “The soldier only has to tolerate medical measures against his will if they 1. serve to prevent or combat communicable diseases or 2. serve to determine his ability to serve or employ”, it says in paragraph 17a. And: “If the soldier refuses a reasonable medical measure and his ability to work or work is impaired as a result, he can be denied care. A medical measure which is associated with a considerable risk to life or health is not reasonable. “

The Armed Forces Commissioner Eva Högl believes that it is right to check whether soldiers are required to be vaccinated against corona. “Here, however, you have to proceed sensitively: After all, it is not even clear whether the vaccination protects against passing on the virus,” said the SPD politician on Friday to the German press agency. “That is why I mainly rely on the individual soldiers’ sense of responsibility: the more they voluntarily get vaccinated, the better.”

Högl recalled that soldiers have a duty to maintain their health. “According to the Soldiers Act, they can already be required to have vaccinations, for example when deployed abroad. In this respect, their basic right to physical integrity is restricted, ”she said. “It is therefore right to specifically examine compulsory vaccination for the new vaccines against corona.”


KSK: Suspicion of mismanagement in the elite unit of the Bundeswehr – politics

When the elite unit of the Bundeswehr trains for their missions, the conditions should be realistic. Just like in the war and crisis areas, in which the soldiers of the “Special Forces Command”, KSK for short, are regularly deployed. For example, to free German citizens from being held hostage or to arrest terrorists.

That is why the soldiers of the KSK train again and again in high mountains or desert regions. A repeated and popular destination of the troops in the past was a ranch in the Namibian desert, which was run by a man who was once a member of the elite unit himself.

After research by Süddeutscher Zeitung, NDR and WDR, the Federal Ministry of Defense is now examining whether there have been any violations of procurement law. In short: whether an old friend of the troops was preferred for the lucrative jobs. In addition, the entire practice of placing orders for the KSK is examined.

Most recently there were right-wing extremist activities in the troop

The KSK stationed in Calw had hit the headlines again and again last year in connection with right-wing extremist suspected cases in the unit. It was also announced that 62 kilograms of explosives and 48,000 rounds of ammunition were missing in the command depots. Some of these have since turned out to be a booking error, but no trace of 13,000 rounds is still missing. As a consequence of the incidents, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) initiated a reform of the unit and dissolved one of four operational companies in which right-wing extremist activities had occurred. Should the reform not succeed, Kramp-Karrenbauer threatened to dissolve the command in its previous form.

The case of the Saxon KSK soldier Philipp S. provided the impetus for the systematic processing. Investigators from the Saxon State Criminal Police Office had seized several thousand rounds of ammunition, plastic explosives and a Kalashnikov rifle in his garden. The MAD military intelligence service had given the police information that S. was illegally hoarding weapons and ammunition and that he was right-wing extremist. In the meantime, charges have been brought against S. The trial is scheduled to begin at the Leipzig Regional Court at the end of January.

First the ex-KSK man offered safaris

As part of an investigation into the right-wing extremist activities of soldier S., the former KSK soldier was found in Namibia. After leaving the unit in 2012, he started offering safaris in the South West African country. Namibia, once colonized by Germans, is a popular destination for big game hunters. The man is said to have not only driven safari tourists in jeeps through the desert, but also invited former comrades to private stays with hunting trips. This is how an ex-comrade describes it.

Between 2014 and 2019, the ex-soldier’s company was then commissioned several times to carry out official training assignments for the KSK. His experience with the general secrecy of all KSK operations and his access to suitable terrain possibly made him an obvious contractor. The “land relocation under extreme conditions” was practiced, ie tactical use of vehicles and people under the extreme weather conditions in the desert.

The ex-soldier wanted to return to Germany later and applied again to the Bundeswehr. In 2019 he initially received an acceptance and was due to start his service at KSK in August of last year. But that didn’t happen. According to the findings of SZ, NDR and WDR, the Ministry of Defense came across indications of a possible right-wing extremist attitude of the man. The ministry found this evidence to be sufficient to prevent his recruitment. Neither the ministry nor the ex-soldier wanted to comment on the case when asked.

The Armed Forces Commissioner demands clarification

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense is not only reviewing this case, but also the entire awarding practice of the Bundeswehr Service Center, which is responsible for commissioning the KSK exercises.

The defense commissioner of the German Bundestag, Eva Högl (SPD), said on request that it was “necessary and absolutely correct to examine any form of entanglements in the KSK with regard to right-wing extremism and possible irregularities”. This also includes reviewing the awarding practice and possible economic interdependencies. She welcomed “the fact that the Ministry of Defense is currently working rapidly and consistently on reforms”. But many things still take too long to clarify. She only found out about the specific case after a press inquiry.


Hardly any vaccination appointments left (neue-deutschland.de)

To what extent is Health Minister Ursula Nonnemacher (Greens) responsible for the bumpy start of the corona vaccinations in the state of Brandenburg? In any case, on Monday she literally stood in the way of an older man. He had an appointment at the newly opened vaccination center at the old Schönefeld Airport. Nonnemacher and other personalities had posted themselves outside the door in front of a bunch of television cameras and photographers – and the man did not see how he could get through there. Employees of the Johanniter Accident Aid then helped him to get to the vaccination center with a little detour.

Colonel Corporal Tom Liebing speaks to a senior citizen who has come to Schönefeld Airport for the vaccination.

Photo: dpa / Patrick Pleul

Johanniter operate this third vaccination center in Brandenburg after Potsdam and Cottbus. The Bundeswehr provides the staff – four doctors and eight paramedics. If necessary, if the center is to be operated in two shifts, the Bundeswehr can also deploy more people, explained Chief Doctor Roland Schneider. The medically trained soldiers and officers come from Berlin, as well as some military police as “helping hands,” as Colonel Olaf Detlefsen said. This is the next stage in the deployment of Bundeswehr soldiers in the pandemic. 330 soldiers in Brandenburg have long been entrusted with investigating the contacts of infected people for health authorities.

On Monday in Terminal 5, Area M, only around 100 vaccinations were on the program, although it started at 10 a.m. In the whole of Brandenburg, only 14 063 vaccinations have been administered since the end of December, significantly fewer than would have been possible. “There was a lot of dissatisfaction and a lot of criticism at the start of the vaccination,” admitted Nonnemacher. “We have to put on this jacket,” she admitted. But in the meantime 32,000 vaccination appointments have already been made via the telephone number 116 117. That’s why you can now only assign a few appointments a day. Otherwise the vaccine would not be available in sufficient quantities. “Despite all the criticism of the hotline,” said Nonnemacher, if more vaccine arrives than expected, you can react flexibly with it. With the system of written invitations as in Berlin – the state parliament member Ronny Kretschmer (left) had wanted such invitations – if this were not so easy, the minister was stubborn. Nonnemacher knows that many callers kept dialing 116 117 in the first few days and simply couldn’t get through. Nevertheless, she remarked, annoyed by reproaches: “Everyone turns to me personally whether his grandmother could not be brought forward.”

The past few weeks have been exhausting for the minister. She was constantly on the move between Christmas and New Year, while nothing else could be heard from the cabinet. It had never been so quiet over the holidays. But Nonnemacher has the political responsibility to ensure that the vaccinations did not go smoothly. In the case of deaths towards the end of February or beginning of March, you will unfortunately have to ask whether this or that person could have been saved if vaccinations had been faster at the beginning of the year.

It was also about human lives when the then Minister of Health Diana Golze (left) had to resign in the course of the Lunapharm scandal in the summer of 2018. She was accused of having initially failed to respond appropriately to indications of possibly ineffective cancer drugs. Later, when testing withheld samples, it turned out that the drugs were probably flawless. At the time, Nonnemacher was not among the first to call for Golze’s resignation, but then called him “inevitable.”

“It would be nice if the vaccinated people come on time, but not too punctually,” asked Sandra Winkler from the Johanniter on Monday. She is the operational manager of the vaccination center in Schönefeld. It would be ideal if people are there half an hour before their appointment, but not earlier, so that there are no queues.


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What the armed drone debate is about – politics

The SPD party leadership has the decision whether the Bundeswehr their new Heron-TP-Drones are allowed to arm, postponed to the next legislative period and thus cause trouble in the Union, but also in one’s own party. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Armed Forces Commissioner Eva Högl, for example, are in favor of arming. What is the matter about?

What kind of drones is the Bundeswehr currently using?

In Mali and Afghanistan, it uses unarmed Israeli-type drones Heron for clarification and for situation reports. These drones do not carry weapons. Especially the newer ones Heron TP but could carry missiles that would be fired from the control center. Unlike jets, however, drones are unable to carry heavy bombs because their payload is quite small.

Will the safety of German soldiers suffer in their current missions abroad if the air force does not receive combat drones?

Limited. In Afghanistan, the ongoing “Resolute Support” mission is only used to train Afghan government forces; the NATO combat mission has been over since 2014. In Mali, the Bundeswehr is also actively patrolling the area against Islamist terrorist militias as part of the UN blue helmet mission Minusma. A threat is conceivable here in which an accompanying drone could detect and shoot at attackers. So far there has been no such incident, also because often Heron-Drones probe the terrain. In addition, the French who are also active there have armed drones; in 2017, seven jihadists who attacked a French unit killed seven.

For which missions does the Bundeswehr intend to arm drones?

For combat missions like in Afghanistan until 2014, where German soldiers often got into combat. In 2010, during the infamous “Good Friday Battle” near Kunduz, three paratroopers died when their convoy fell into a trap of the Taliban and it was not clear where the enemies were hidden. US fighter jets could therefore initially not intervene without endangering the Germans. An accompanying drone could possibly have cleared up the Taliban’s positions from the air and combat them in a targeted manner, without any major delay. That is why the Bundeswehr wants combat drones for use that is limited to combat situations.

What military advantages would combat drones offer? What can they do that the Bundeswehr cannot do without them?

Precision and Surprise. Drones can orbit unnoticed over a battlefield for many hours. Unfortunately, through artillery shelling or the dropping of bombs on Taliban positions near villages, the danger of killing bystanders has all too often become a reality, especially during the many missions of the US Air Force. One example is the fatal bomb attack on the Kunduz River ordered by the German Armed Forces in 2009. At that time, American bombs F-15-Jets two tanker trucks hijacked by the Taliban. Around 100 people died, including the Taliban, many civilians who came to the river out of curiosity or to siphon off gasoline. The wrong decision for the attack was based on incomplete information, the force of the bombs was so enormous that people died in a wide area. Proponents argued that a drone would have let the evaluators immediately recognize on the screen that many civilians had joined the Taliban, so a much more limited strike would only have been carried out when no bystanders were at risk.

May the Bundeswehr, like the US military, specifically kill people abroad using drones?

No. The Basic Law forbids both the death penalty and killings contrary to international law for good reasons. The legally extremely problematic “drone war”, in which the US has Islamist terrorists deliberately executed using rockets fired by drones, would be illegal for Germany. The provisions originally agreed between the SPD and the Union on combat drones even imposed restrictions on their use in combat in order to avoid cases of doubt. Of course, there would still be a risk of abuse.

Did the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh in the autumn rekindle the debate about combat drones as they were used there?

In any case. Azerbaijan and its allied Turkey had combat drones, but the Armenian military, which is powerful in itself, did not. This is how the sighted fought against the blind. The drones took out Armenian tanks from the air and destroyed them with precision missiles. Military experts speak of the “first drone war” between states. The drone, which fires rockets and is invisible in the sky, is a new weapon, just like the bomber, the attack helicopter and the jet. And if you don’t have it, it’s hard to defend yourself.

What then is the correct response to the use of drones in the Nagorno-Karabakh war?

It depends on the point of view. The SPD leadership has in fact drawn the moral consequence that Germany should rather not take part in the arms race for such weapons. Proponents, however, argue that combat drones are now becoming the standard for modern armies and that Germany will weaken its currently limited ability to defend its country and alliances if it voluntarily renounces such without preventing other states from acquiring this weapon. From this point of view it would be as if the French military had decided in 1910 for ethical reasons not to purchase any of the aircraft that had just been invented, while the German Empire was quickly building an air force.

Critics fear that combat drones are the entry point into the dreaded “killer robots”, ie autonomous weapon systems that operate independently using artificial intelligence (AI). Right?

A lot speaks against this assumption, at least today. Hardly any weapon system is controlled by as many people as a drone of the current type. A crew of two sits in the ground station, the pilot or – more and more often – the pilot flies them by hand by remote control, the other analyzes the images from the high-tech cameras (which are nevertheless not as razor-sharp as in the Hollywood Movie). At the same time, evaluators on the ground see the same images, discuss with the crew and, if there was a possible reason to fire, would set in motion a chain of command extending to the top of the ministry. Like chemical weapons, killer robots should rightly be outlawed under international law. But of course, drones could also be converted into autonomous weapon systems, such as aircraft or tanks. This would be a horror vision, the dangers of which have so far been underestimated.


Dispute about the operational readiness of the Bundeswehr (neue-deutschland.de)

A Marder-type tank on the grounds of the combat training center of the Altmark military training area

Photo: dpa / Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert

How ready is the Bundeswehr? The answer to this question depends on the one hand on the personnel, on the other hand on the material – i.e. the weapon systems. According to a report by the Defense Ministry to Parliament, 74 percent of the latter are ready for use. An average that ranges from 40 percent for helicopters to 90 percent for brand-new trucks.

There is criticism from the German Federal Armed Forces Association (DBwV). In an interview with Die Welt, the chairman and active soldier, Lieutenant Colonel André Wüstner, speaks of at best 50 percent operational readiness and raises serious allegations in the direction of the political leadership of the ministry and parliament. The picture of the situation is based on “absurd calculation models” that “have nothing to do with the everyday reality of the troops”. Wüstner also settles accounts with the ruling party, the SPD. It speaks for itself that the SPD chairman Norbert Walter-Borjans is incapable of making decisions on the disputed procurement of armed drones. The opponents of the requested rearmament measure are “a minority who consciously communicated with the wrong means”, Wüstner adopts the wording of a letter to the association without providing any evidence in the interview.

Last week, the SPD leadership declared the discussion about arming the Heron TP drone to be ongoing, and postponed a decision on armament into the next election period after no internal agreement on a position had been reached.

Wüstners Bundeswehrverband sees itself as a non-partisan and financially independent registered association. With around 200,000 members, his voice has weight in the security and socio-political debate. Although soldiers on duty are prohibited from political activity in uniform, Wüstner repeatedly acts on the verge of politics. His expert advice is just as much a part of the Bundestag’s expert committees as his classifications of current defense policy measures are in demand in the conservative media.

A prerequisite for membership in the association initially seems to be an active or former service or employment relationship. In addition, relatives and survivors are accepted. Anyone who does not fall under the broad definition of membership can be accepted as a sponsoring member if the association’s goals are supported. The association does not differentiate in its external presentation for how many active employees from the division of the Defense Ministry Wüstner speaks. Lieutenant Barbara Krach, who appears on the association’s website in a video entitled “Your personal opinion”, voiced the unconfirmed opinion: “Almost all soldiers are members”. The »world« also speaks indifferently of »200,000 employees of the armed forces«. Members are obliged to “represent and promote the interests and goals of the association to the best of their ability” and are prohibited from working in other associations with conflicting interests. Translated: a lobby association with an unclear membership structure.

When confronted with the DBwV, the spokesman for the Ministry of Defense does not respond to the “nd” request, but defends the figures. The criteria that have been used for years have made it possible to go from a 70 percent to a 74 percent readiness for use in the weapon systems. That was “no reason to cheer, but a tendency.” In everyday troop life, it could be “something clearly different”. That is also the opinion of the ministry, which is working together with the DBwV on sustainable financing for the necessary projects. There does not seem to be a need for the ministry to resolve the contradicting numbers and come to a clear statement on operational readiness. Comment on page 8


Back doors for murders (daily newspaper Junge Welt)

Josh Smith/REUTERS/File photo

US soldiers in front of a “Reaper” drone on an airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan

On Sunday and Monday, the SPD leadership staged again as a force that prevented the armament of Bundeswehr drones. The party leaders do not want the coalition to make a decision before the general election, but in principle they have nothing against the killer machines. At the same time it became clear that the Greens are also looking for a back door. On Monday published the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DOES) an article with statements about it under the heading “Signals of willingness to compromise”. Accordingly, the party would like to be more “convinced” of the proponents of armament, that is, above all of the CDU and CSU. That can be done.

SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich had on Sunday opposite Editorial network Germany (RND) campaigned for an international control agreement on armed drones. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) should seek talks with the allies. But that was in the World on Sunday as spokeswoman for the soldiers who “apparently could not rely on the SPD”. She called on Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) to release the funds for the ammunition for armed drones. The template for this has been with him “unprocessed for weeks”.

On Monday, SPD leader Norbert Walter-Borjans intervened and said he Rheinische Post: “I assume that this question will no longer be decided on in this legislative period.” The debate had “not yet been conducted in the necessary breadth in the SPD or in society.” The chairman of the German Armed Forces Association, André Wüstner, also called on the party to end the German armed forces’ missions abroad. He stated in the world: “The SPD can only manage the balancing act between the best possible equipment for the protection of soldiers and the rejection of armed drones if it draws the conclusion: no more missions.”

Mützenich confirmed on Monday in RND-Interview: “I would like a debate that is not only conducted in specialist circles or the Defense Committee, but that is politically accentuated.” Otherwise it could not reach large parts of society. The protection of the Bundeswehr soldiers is a strong argument, but not the only one. The election campaign is also about peace policy and the equipment for the Bundeswehr. Drone armament is one of them.

The Greens do not ignore this. The DOES quoted her security policy spokesman, Tobias Lindner, on the same day: “I am quite accessible to the protective argument.” However, he currently does not come to the conclusion that “we must arm drones now.” The newspaper commented: “Apparently the Greens would not be reluctant to be convinced.” They kept a “back door open for possible coalition negotiations with the Union.” The two federal chairmen, Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock, had recently pointed out a lack of operational rules in interviews “and thus indicated a possible compromise”.

That affirmed loudly DOES Lindner too: “The Union shouldn’t believe that we would make the negotiations on nuclear participation, drone arming or the two percent target easy for them.” In other words: extra legal killings are hardly a hurdle for the SPD and the Greens. Negotiation only.