Soldiers, employees and reservists of the Bundeswehr!
Today we have published the Key Elements of the Bundeswehr of the Future. This document explains how we intend to make the Bundeswehr fit for the future and presents proposals for the implementation of this plan.
It contains the important decisions we have taken together which aim to speed up the procurement of materiel and equipment, streamline leadership structures and further improve the operational readiness of our Bundeswehr.
To achieve this, we do not need any major Bundeswehr reform or more committees of experts. All the analyses are on the table, and what they show is in line with what we know from experience and the feedback we have received during numerous troop visits in recent months and years.
The Key Elements explain how we intend to reduce the current “top-heaviness” and adjust our structures to improve the command and control capability and responsiveness of our armed forces, thus enhancing our operational readiness.
We would like to emphasise: The Key Elements are not an austerity and downsizing scheme as previous reforms have been. Our target personnel strength remains unaltered. There will be no redundancies. Likewise, the existing units will remain as they are, no bases and installations will be closed down.
Our aim is to strengthen the unit levels in terms of their responsibility, their ability to act and their operational readiness. The initial steps to achieve this will be taken shortly. The implementation will take some time.
Our most important strategic choice results from the threat analysis and the capability development we have conducted – including within NATO and the EU: Our armed forces will be organised according to the four domains – land, air/space, sea, and the cyber and information domain.
The Domain Commands will be led by the respective chiefs of service (Army, Air Force, Navy, Cyber and Information). Their core task is to provide fully operational forces for national and collective defence and for international crisis management.
The position of the Surgeon General of the Bundeswehr will be transferred directly to the Federal Ministry of Defence and a Bundeswehr Health Care Headquarters will be newly established. This way, we acknowledge the great significance of Bundeswehr health care for full operational readiness and we strengthen the technical control element of the Medical Service in general.
National and collective defence and international crisis management are considered tasks of equal importance. To do justice to both, we will establish the Bundeswehr Territorial Operations Command in Bonn and Berlin. It will be based on elements of the Joint Support and Enabling Service and will complement the Bundeswehr Joint Forces Operations Command. Its responsibilities will include homeland security, national territorial defence as well as support for our NATO and EU partners during exercises and transit through Germany ("central hub").
The Bundeswehr needs a strong reserve force. The sustainable performance of Bundeswehr tasks is only possible with a strong reserve that is quick to deploy. Therefore, we will continue to pursue the course we set with the Reserve Strategy.
Our aim is to achieve full equipment levels for all Bundeswehr units as quickly as possible. In these days of rapid technological change, the only viable solution is to find the right mix between high-end capabilities and robust and reliable basic equipment.
To this end, we propose ways of accelerating the processes of planning, procurement, in-service use and infrastructure projects. Furthermore, we will submit proposals on how to streamline the Federal Ministry of Defence and strengthen its focus on core tasks.
The lively debate that preceded our decisions both within the Bundeswehr and in the general public goes to show how much the Bundeswehr and its personnel are at the centre of public attention.
It is a good thing that many people now realise that intergenerational equity and a future worth living in also require long-term, whole-of-government investment in the security and defence of our country.
We are aware that any kind of development calls for efforts from all those involved.
We are counting on you – on your commitment and on your professionalism. We are certain that the path we have chosen is worth pursuing. Germany will always be able to rely on its Bundeswehr.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer Eberhard Zorn
Federal Minister of Defence General