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New German defense policy guidelines issued

New defense policy guidelines issued

Defense Minister Peter Struck presented the new defense policy guidelines to the cabinet and officially issued them on May 21. In an ensuing press conference he indicated that a revision of German defense policy principles had become necessary in light of the fact that the security situation has changed in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

"Traditional national defense considerations can no longer determine the priority structures and capabilities of the armed forces," Struck said. At the present time and for the foreseeable future there is no reason to assume a threat of attack against Germany by conventional forces. As such, there is going to be a reprioritization of armed forces missions. "International conflict prevention and crisis management, including the fight against international terrorism, are going to be moved to the top of the list," Struck noted. These will be the missions that determine the new structures of the armed forces. There are to be deployments only in cooperation with allies and partners in the framework of the United Nations, NATO, and the European Union.

Given the nature of these missions and the current tight budget situation the German armed forces will concentrate on preserving and improving their core military capabilities. The focus is not going to be on the capability of individual branches of the military but on that of the armed forces as a whole. The core functions in question are:

command and control,

intelligence gathering and reconnaissance,

mobility,

combat effectiveness,

support and sustainability,

survivability, and

protection.

Keeping the draft

The chief of staff will be formulating a new strategy for the armed forces and in this context will have to take into account the question of mandatory military service, the length of the minimum required period of military service, and indeed whether or not to abandon the idea of mandatory military service, Struck explained. By the end of this year the chief of staff is to present a needs assessment for the armed forces on the basis of the new guidelines. Military and civilian personnel strength requirements will also have to be assessed. By next spring the armed forces are to have the necessary figures together in a planning report based on the new guidelines.

Struck underscored the need to keep the draft system in place, saying that mandatory military service, adjusted to current requirements, will continue to be indispensable for the readiness, capability, and cost-effectiveness of the armed forces. "Through the general military service requirement we ensure the integration of the armed forces in society," Struck said, adding that a decision would be taken on the draft by the end of this year.

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