BERLIN/THE HAGUE/WARSAW (Own report) – The German Bundeswehr has announced the formation of a permanent military unit of foreigners under German command. Beginning in January 2014, approx. 2,100 soldiers from the Netherlands will be integrated into the “Rapid Reaction Force Division” as a result of a declaration of intent signed in Berlin last week by the defense ministers of both countries. Three dozen projects for closer cooperation between the two armed forces are planned. A second, similar declaration of intent, stipulating closer naval cooperation was also signed between the defense ministers of Germany and Poland. This cooperation includes combat missions. Specialists in military policy have been calling for intensifying military cooperation to increase the Bundeswehr’s military clout. Berlin would be well advised to seek cooperation particularly with the smaller countries, because they, it is said, unlike France or Great Britain, are more pliable allies due to their lesser power potentials.
Under Bundeswehr Command
Germany and the Netherlands will merge their military forces closer together, according to the declaration of intent signed in Berlin last week by the German Minister of Defense and his Dutch counterpart. This is referred to as a “new quality” in bilateral military cooperation. In fact, the declaration of intent goes beyond stipulating that the two countries coordinate their armament and maintenance more closely, meaning, for example, that, in the future, their boxer armored fighting vehicles will be serviced together, and that they will coordinate the procurement of MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) drones, according to the document. They also seek to integrate elements of the Dutch military into German military structures. For example, the navies of both countries will train together and their militaries will intensify their common air transport. The integration of an entire Dutch brigade into a German unit is one of the declaration’s three dozen cooperation projects. According to the German Defense Ministry, the 11th Dutch Airborne Brigade, with its 2,100 soldiers, will be “subordinate to the Rapid Reaction Force Division.” Accordingly, Dutch soldiers will enter combat under Bundeswehr orders.
Germany at the Crossroads
The strategic plan behind Berlin’s recent initiatives can be gleaned from analyses of military policy specialists. They explain that Germany risks appreciably losing influence in global policy. As the USA is turning its attention toward East Asia, it is relying less on military cooperation with Germany. Simultaneously, Paris and London are intensifying their military cooperation within the EU, and – with Washington’s assistance – are systematically marginalizing Berlin. This can be seen very clearly in the interventions in Libya and Mali. Germany is standing “at a security policy crossroads,” according a text raising eyebrows in transatlantic circles. The text was published in February by an associate of the Institute for Security Policy at the University of Kiel (ISPK). Berlin has the choice: “make security policy initiatives in Europe or fade into irrelevance.”
Ultimately, the paper concludes that the establishment of “multination units” must urgently and rapidly be advanced. The impending crisis-imposed budget cuts throughout the EU, alone, make the pooling of forces inevitable. The recently expressed idea of establishing a German-French Air Force, even though “worth considering,” is at the same time risky. France – like Great Britain – insists on military independence. “Therefore any German initiatives should be aimed at smaller partners,” the paper advises. They are hardly still in a position to assure their own national defense at the highest military technological level, on a long-term basis and, therefore, are obliged to enter cooperation with other nations. At the same time, from Berlin’s perspective, there is no danger of losing its predominating influence to a weaker ally within the structure of military cooperation.
Full article: Under German Command (German Foreign Policy)