This was the first time ever that European country has handed part of its army over to another country. “Never before has a state renounced this elementary and integral part of its sovereignty,” wrote Die Welt’s political editor Thorsten Jungholt.
Now, Germany is making it clear that this was not an isolated event. Instead, it is a pattern Germany intends to follow as it absorbs more units from foreign militaries. “Germany is driving the European Army Project” was the title of Jungholt’s Die Welt article.
Expanding the German Army
Germany is pursuing a second Dutch brigade. The German Army’s Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Bruno Kasdorf, recently wrote a letter outlining plans for future cooperation. “The integration of the Dutch 43rd Mechanized Brigade into the [German] 1st Armored Division shall be encouraged,” he wrote. This would leave the 13th Mechanized Brigade as the only brigade in the Dutch army still under Dutch command.
This subject has received little attention in the Netherlands, but think about what is happening here. The Dutch army also includes Special Forces and support staff, so it is not quite accurate to say that two thirds of the Dutch army would be under German control, but certainly a very large part of it would be. This is no small experiment simply to pay lip service to the idea of multinational cooperation. This is the Netherlands signing the heart and core of its army over to Germany.
All this is in addition to extensive training and cooperation that already goes on between the two armed forces.
Kasdorf wrote that Germany wanted to employ the Dutch model in cooperation with other nations. “The bilateral cooperation with Austria and Poland is currently gaining much momentum,” he wrote.
The Ultimate Goal
Hans-Peter Bartels, the chairman of the German parliament’s defense committee and the recipient of Kasdorf’s letter, left no doubt as to the final destination of all these additions. “The hour has come, finally, for concrete steps towards a European Army,” he told Die Welt.
Germany’s Defense Minister Ursela von der Leyen has a similar goal. “Today we embark a new era of integration,” she said as the Dutch Airmobile brigade official joined the German Army back in June. “This cooperation will continue and even intensify. Our new partnership can also be seen as a model for Europe and its common security and defense policy,” she announced.
Is his letter, General Kasdorf wrote that Germany is a “driver and a pioneer” when it comes to international cooperation between armed forces.
Forced by Russia
“Something is sprouting in Germany,” wrote Jan Techau, director of the Think Tank Carnegie Europe. “As Europeans ponder the necessity of military strength after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and nato charts its course for the post-Afghanistan era, Europe’s reluctant central power is doing some serious soul-searching on its role as a military player.”
Techau continued, “This reflective process started years ago, when former defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg started to set things straight by calling the war in Afghanistan a war and a fallen soldier a fallen soldier—things that had previously been taboo. But now, after those linguistic adaptations to reality, it seems that a more profound change is happening, one that might eventually lead to a shift in political behavior.”
Full article: Germany Is Building a European Army Before Your Eyes (The Trumpet)