The Minister of Defence
In her capacity as Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen is a member of the German government. Additionally, the Minister of Defence is the highest-ranking superior of all soldiers as well as the commander in chief of the armed forces in peacetime. She is the head of the Bundeswehr administration and thus also responsible for the entire civilian staff of the Bundeswehr and the ministry.
Superior of all soldiers and cabinet member
In her role as Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen exercises several important functions at the same time. Not only is she a member of the federal government's cabinet, she is also the highest‑ranking superior of all soldiers as well as the commander in chief of the armed forces in peacetime.
The minister can thus make decisions on all issues concerning the armed forces. This includes the deployment of combat units, the introduction of new weapon systems or the closure of garrisons. It is only upon the promulgation of a state of defence that the power of command over the armed forces passes to the Federal Chancellor.
Together with two Parliamentary State Secretaries and two Permanent State Secretaries, she is part of the Executive Group of the Federal Ministry of Defence.
Before Ursula von der Leyen became Minister of Defence, a total of 16 politicians had held this political office since the ministry was founded in 1955.
The security environment is subject to constant change; the White Paper of the Bundeswehr takes this into account on a regular basis. The White Paper provides the minister with a framework for defence policy.
With great personal dedication, our servicemen and women are making outstanding contributions to peace and security – in Germany, Europe and around the world. For this reason, the men and women of the Bundeswehr rightly enjoy the respect, recognition and gratitude they deserve both at home and abroad.Ursula von der Leyen, Foreword to the 2016 White Paper