Europe, Desperatly Looking for a Strong German Military Leadership

Quite provoking, isn't it? Despite the title, I do not believe that any political leader or chief of defence will dare express such a statement. However ''the times they are a changin'! "and the German military leadership could constitute the next political challenge for European Defence.

Looking at the European countries from a military perspective, a very few have, even if limited, expeditionary capabilities. Sorry for some which could feel harmed, but solely France, the UK and Germany currently own, the full, or to be realistic, a large part of the spectrum of military capabilities needed for contemporary military operations. All the other Europeans countries own exclusively niche capabilities or are under a vast movement of restructuring their armed forces. As a matter of fact, almost all our nations have abandoned any idea of autonomous military operations.

Although Germany officially belongs to the group of the countries having renounced to military operations on their own, this country is to be put apart, as Bundeswehr could be considered as balancing now the French and British armed forces: have a look to the blog "Augen geradeaus" and you will see German attack helicopters flying over Afghanistan, while France is withdrawing from the country. Indeed both former imperial countries suffer simultaneously the same diseases. 

Their armed forces are exhausted by more than ten years of contiuous wars and their public deficits forbide any expensive military investment and commitment in the next five to ten years. By the way it should be worth going deeper into the topic.

More frankly both France and the UK still claim being fully autonomous in waging war. But, which of them would be able to claim having been able to do without the U.S in Afghanistan? None of them, I fear.

However this slowly emerging new stance is not the result of any form of new pan-Germanism. Not at all. It is merely the result of French and British default: they are no longer able to play the role they have been claiming for scors, because their armed forces are worned out and by lack of financial capabilities.

This being said, the German administration is preparing their public opinion to the new status of their country. Some days ago, the 17.December 2012, the German newspaper, 'Die Welt', reported that the German Minister of Defence, Mr de Maizière, had declared that Germany would be more and more requested to take its part of the burden in international crisis management. As an example, Mali was mentioned as a possible field of operation for the German armed forces.

This is quite new as Africa has been, up to now, acting as foil, any military operation being considered as a remnant of strongly rejected colonialism. The more recent experiences, Somalia (in the 90s and Congo in 06) are commonly used as an example of what is not to be done. Africa, along with Middle-East was the last but one taboo of Bundeswehr. The author of "Augen geradeaus", Thomas Wiegold, reminded me, that already in 2004, the hence Minister of Defence, Mr Struck, had not excluded the possibility to commit German forces in Sudan, if the UN Security would have requested it (Focus- 2004). However this was the expression of a political line, as Germany had finally an insignificant role in Eufor Chad.

Now, things have changed: the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs published in 2011  a concept paper designing the German policy towards Africa, including the Bundeswehr commitment to training of African military capabilities, this put in the the same basket of global approach, along with development and Human rights aids.

Now, both France and the UK will have to set up the conditions for a balance partnership, as Germany is relunctant to take over the leadership, but, if they are requested to play an greater role, they won't do it at any cost and won't accept being only the bank office or a provider of support assets. 

They would ask, sooner or later, for a leading role.

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