Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Germany Set to Revamp Military Policy

The Germans are beginning to assume a wider role in peacekeeping and anti-terrorism activities as Kanzler Merkel is about to unveil a new Bundeswehr set of guidelines on engagement and deployment under UN and international cooperative norms.

According to the Financial Times:
The paper, which will be endorsed at a special cabinet meeting in the defence ministry, is the product of a review – the first of its kind since 1994 – begun by Angela Merkel, chancellor, after she won office last November. It will see Germany’s military officially abandon its primary postwar task of defending the country’s borders in favour of a more robust role for German troops on 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.

Conscription will be retained, according to the FT sources.

Perhaps this is jockeying for an eventual German seat in the UN Security Council, which would allow the two WW II Axis Powers some sort of international status reflecting their economic heft.

As both Japan and Germany begin to discard their postwar anti-military policies, they should be two helpful allies in the perpetual peace-keeping the UN faces in an increasingly fractious international climate.

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