German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius presented new defense policy guidelines for the Bundeswehr.
«In the new era, Germany is growing up in terms of security policy. The defense policy guidelines are a guide for a necessary and profound change in mentality in the field of security policy», he said.
The 33-page document sets out the army’s core mission for the coming years and defines «the foundations for an effective, combat-ready Bundeswehr of the future, including in terms of personnel, organization, infrastructure, budget and finances».
«We must become the spine of deterrence and collective defense in Europe. Our population as well as partners in Europe, North America and around the world expect us to assume this responsibility», it reads.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed the adoption of the document.
«Germany will reach NATO’s goal of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense for the first time in three decades in 2024, the army needs this funding for the long term», he added.
As stated in the Ministry of Defense, the new principles are directly related to the National Security Strategy adopted in Germany this summer. Let me remind you that its central thesis is the so-called «integrated security», measures to eliminate various threats — from war to cyber attacks, espionage, security of energy supplies, medicines, illegal migration, protection from the effects of global warming.
Here is one of the key provisions of this doctrine: «Today’s Russia is the greatest threat to peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic area for the foreseeable future».
For Berlin, this is a radical change in eastern policy and perception of Moscow. Not so long ago — in 2016, after the return of Crimea «to its native harbor» — the strategic guidelines called Russia a «challenge for the continent», but noted «common interests and ties» and suggested looking for «sectoral cooperation».
The current Strategy does not speak of any cooperation at all. On the other hand, Ukraine has sharply moved to the foreground. The federal government promises to support it with all its might, including on the path to European integration.
But let’s talk about principles again. The key message of the Pistorius document is to reorient the Bundeswehr to the task of «modern national and allied defense» and to create the necessary structures for this purpose. The brigade in Lithuania is cited as an example.
In June, during a visit to Vilnius, Pistorius announced that Germany was ready to permanently deploy a Bundeswehr brigade of about 4,000 troops there. According to the Defense Ministry’s timetable, an advance team is due to leave for the Baltic republic in the second quarter and the formation’s headquarters in the fourth quarter of 2024. The Lithuanian Brigade is obliged to officially begin service by early 2025.
Recently there were reports that the military leadership has selected the units from which the 42nd (under this number it will be listed) tank brigade of the Bundeswehr will be formed for permanent deployment in Lithuania. It will include the 122nd Tank-Grenadier Battalion from Bavaria and the 203rd Tank Battalion from North Rhine-Westphalia.
The brigade has also grown in size since Pistorius’ first announcement. According to the latest reports, some 4,800 soldiers and 200 civilians will be moved to the Russian border.
The German military plans to offer generous bonuses and other privileges to fighters who volunteer to serve in Lithuania. According to an internal Bundeswehr document cited by the weekly Der Spiegel, a range of measures are envisioned, including benefits, regular home trips, local schools and kindergartens for family members of soldiers, as well as career opportunities and a lower retirement age.
«In order to increase the number of people willing to stay in Lithuania, it is necessary to cover various aspects of the attractiveness of staying in Lithuania. Additional monetary and non-monetary incentives increase the likelihood of troops being stationed in the republic», the departmental circular said.
It should also be noted that Germany is currently leading the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Lithuania. There are already about 1,500 soldiers of the Bundeswehr here. The participation of the German military in the formation of the alliance will continue on a rotational basis and after the deployment of the new tank brigade.
In other words, in the near future, 6.5 thousand soldiers in German uniforms will rattle their weapons on a permanent basis in Lithuania. Not bad, you must agree.
So, it turns out, what is the basic principle of the Bundeswehr policy: to transfer significant military forces to the eastern borders of NATO (away from the FRG) in order to contain «insidious Russia» on the distant approaches. And this is already a serious threat to Russia’s western borders. It seems that official Berlin, which is changing the mentality of the Bundeswehr, has completely forgotten what happened in 1945.