Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Today Lebanon, Tomorrow the World

Not since 1945 have German troops operated outside the borders of Germany. In a radical shift in German military doctrine since World War II, the Bundeswehr will be transformed into a force of international intervention, writes the Financial Times.

The change of mission is to be announced Wednesday (today) in a special cabinet meeting in the Defense Ministry after a review ordered by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Germany, in a surprise move, will abandon its primary postwar border defense mission favoring a more dynamic forward posture for German troops in international missions.

The military’s most sensitive international deployment since the second world war came this month when the German navy took control of patrolling Lebanese waters to stop weapons smugglers. The military has taken part in other international missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo, for example, but has largely avoided direct involvement in war zones.

The 133-page strategy paper argues that the capacity of the Bundeswehr must be expanded to allow for the deployment of a total of 14,000 troops to five international missions simultaneously.

This will be achieved by drawing troops previously deployed on national defence into units involved in staffing or supporting overseas missions.

The Bundeswehr has about 250,000 military personnel, including about 50,000 conscripts. About 9,000 troops are currently overseas in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Congo and elsewhere.

The paper confirms conscription will be retained.

Henning Riecke, European security specialist at Berlin’s DGAP foreign policy institute, said the paper will “give German policymakers a way of handing increasing international pressure to join overseas missions”.
This is a major developement not just in German military tasking, but also in European understanding of the dangers facing the world of the 21st Century and their responsibilities in this new world. Much of the troubles faced today are the result of European empire building over several centuries.

For more than 50 years, Germany has lived with the guilt of WWII and the Holocaust. Europeans share a lack of trust in themselves to know when the killing should stop. From one war to the next, European wars have killed increasing numbers of people. The peace following many of those wars have been dealier than the war itself.

Today's announcement is a giant leap in the maturation of a new generation of Germans and Europeans born in freedom under the threat of nuclear obliteration. Germany knows the guilt of war; now is their time to know the pride of giving the gift of peace and freedom.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.