General Carsten Breuer is the 17th Bundeswehr Chief of Defence and has been in office since 17 March 2023.
The Chief of Defence, highest-ranking Bundeswehr soldier, again and again faces considerable challenges. At present among other things, he has to deal with the turning point, “Zeitenwende”, resulting from the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The first Chief of Defence 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 a former 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.
In addition, as the highest-ranking representatives of all German soldiers they initiated the transformation of Bundeswehr from an exclusively defensive force into an army of operations.
This international orientation of the Bundeswehr was revealed in the first operations it conducted for the United Nations in Iraq and the Balkans. The transformation into an army on operations required considerable changes concerning Bundeswehr structure and personnel. The suspension of compulsory military service, a political decision taken in 2011, was put into practice by the 15th Chief of Defence, General Volker Wieker.
Breuer was preceded by General Eberhard Zorn as the Chief of Defence. He shaped the start of the “Zeitenwende’’ and reorientation towards national and collective defence which has regained importance as a result of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine since 24 February 2022.