The Chief of Defence advises the German government on the development and implementation of its overall military defence concept. He is the direct superior of all the military personnel in the Bundeswehr and a member of the Federal Ministry of Defence Executive Group. The Chief of Defence is appointed by the President of Germany on the recommendation of the Minister of Defence.
General Volker Wieker has been Chief of Defence since 21 January 2010. One major development that has taken place during his term in office is the suspension of compulsory military service. His predecessors also often faced considerable challenges. Adolf Heusinger and one of his successors, Ulrich de Maizière, developed the concept of “Innere Führung” (leadership development and civic education) in an effort to establish the democratic values of the fledgling republic in the new Bundeswehr.
Within NATO, the German army has gone from being an enemy to a reliable friend in the defence of Western Europe. After the Cold War and German reunification, the task of integrating the former East German Army (National People’s Army) into the Bundeswehr fell to Chiefs of Defence Dieter Wellershoff and Klaus Naumann. The Chief of Defence was now the supreme representative of all the German soldiers and had to redefine the tasks of what had so far been a defensive force only.
The international orientation of the Bundeswehr was revealed in the first operations it conducted for the United Nations in Iraq and the Balkans. The transformation of the Bundeswehr into an army on operations required considerable changes to be made in the defence resources. The suspension of compulsory military service in 2011 was implemented by General Volker Wieker.