Germany’s Secret Bundeswehr

The secret German army, with soldiers from other countries has a variety of duties. There is a growing concern in Europe, but what about NATO? That question goes to President Trump. The secret is, no one is talking about it openly, further there was no real reason given on why VP Pence travel to meet top NATO officials to calm the nerves regarding the viability of NATO due to President Trump. Article 5 remains a large question with European leaders.

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The original Bundeswehr has a scandalous history. Nazi Veterans Created Illegal Army

First, there will be cyber soldiers

The German military (Bundeswehr) on Wednesday is launching a brand new “cyber army” to fight against digital attacks on networks and weapons systems. But some are concerned about how this new unit might engage in cyber assaults itself.

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen will announce the new unit in Bonn on Wednesday afternoon. The ministry wants to deploy around 13,500 soldiers and civilian workers by 2021 to protect the Bundeswehr’s networks and weapons systems, but the unit must also be capable of launching their own attacks against hackers.

The Chief of Staff of the new cyber army is Lieutenant-General Ludwig Leinhos, who is an expert in electronic warfare.

Cyber attacks are a growing concern in Germany, with the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) reporting last year that the government’s computer networks are hit by around 20 highly specialized attacks per day.

German intelligence agencies and the BSI last year began work on setting up their own special cyber response teams.

According to broadcaster N-tv, the Bundeswehr’s new cyber soldiers will be on equal ranking with their colleagues in the army, air force and marines – and their new beret colour will be grey.

Parliamentary ombudsman for the Bundeswehr, Hans-Peter Bartels (SPD), warned that the new cyber unit should be kept under parliamentary control, though, as part of their work would entail launching cyber attacks of their own.

Bartels told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Wednesday that the cyber army must seek permission from the Bundestag (German parliament) before launching such assaults.

“Every offensive measure of our constitutionally enshrined parliamentary army needs to have the explicit mandate of the Bundestag,” Bartels said, adding that this policy goes for not only military assaults, but also virtual attacks on the data network of an adversary.

Bartels stressed that the cyber army was desperately needed to protect the Bundeswehr’s computer and weapons systems. But he also criticized the fact that the new unit is only now being created.

“Germany is not a pioneer here,” he said. “One can already learn from the experiences of other countries, like the USA or Israel.”

Second, the conventional forces

Germany is to increase the size of its armed forces amid growing concerns over the security of Europe.

Troop numbers in the Bundeswehr will be raised to almost 200,000 over the next seven years, under new plans announced on Wednesday.

The move comes days after Mike Pence, the US vice-president, called on Nato’s European members to increase military spending.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly demanded Europe pay more towards the cost of its own defence.

The move also comes amid growing concern in European capitals over Mr Trumps’ commitment to Nato, after he described the alliance as “obsolete”.

Under the new plans, Germany will recruit 20,000 more troops by 2025, bringing its total service personnel to 198,000.

That is slightly more than the British armed forces’ current strength of 196,410.

In a statement announcing the plans, Ursula von der Leyen, the defence minister, said: “The Bundeswehr has rarely been as necessary as it is now.

“Whether it is the fight against Isil terrorism, the stabilization of Mali, continuing support of Afghanistan, operations against migrant smugglers in the Mediterranean or with our increased Nato presence in the Baltics.”

The announcement came as Germany deployed tanks and hundreds troops to Lithuania as part of a Nato force to deter Russian aggression.

During the Cold War, West Germany was considered the first line of defence against a Soviet invasion and at its height the Bundeswehr had 500,000 active service personnel.

But in the years following the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification defence spending dropped sharply.

Germany ended conscription in 2011 and troop numbers fell to an all-time low of 166,500 in June last year.

Cold War historians described West Germany’s army as “perhaps the best in the world”.

But in more recent years it has been better known for embarrassing equipment shortages that saw soldiers forces to use broomsticks instead of guns on Nato exercises, and use ordinary Mercedes vans to stand in for armoured personnel carriers.

The German air force was forced to ground half of its ageing Tornado fighters last year over maintenance issues, including six that are deployed on reconaissance missions against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) in Syria.

There are growing calls for Europe to do more to secure its own defence after Mr Trump described Nato as “obsolete” in an interview in January, and earlier this month Angela Merkel’s government was forced to take the unusual step of denying that it is interested in becoming a nuclear power.

Mr Trump has repeatedly accused Nato’s European members of not paying enough towards the cost of their defence and during the US presidential campaign Mr Trump warned the US may not necessarily come to the aid of Nato allies if they are attacked.

German Bundeswehr Soldiers of the 'battalion of armored infantryman' called 'Panzergrenadierbataillon 122' sit on a wrecker called 'Bueffel' during vehicles wait to be loaded onto a train in Grafenwoehr, Germany, 31 January 2017, before being deployed as part of a NATO force in Lithuania
German Bundeswehr Soldiers of the ‘battalion of armored infantryman’ called ‘Panzergrenadierbataillon 122’ sit on a wrecker called ‘Bueffel’ during vehicles wait to be loaded onto a train in Grafenwoehr, Germany, 31 January 2017, before being deployed as part of a NATO force in Lithuania Credit: LUKAS BARTH/EPA

Mr Pence sought to reassure jittery European allies in a speech at Nato headquarters in Brussels on Monday in which he said the US’ “commitment to Nato is clear”. But he demanded “real progress” in increased European defence spending.

Ms von der Leyen has been attempting to reverse the decline of Germany’s armed forces, and already announced a smaller increase in troop numbers last year. Those targets were revised upwards with Wednesday’s announcement.

It is estimated the increases will cost Germany between around €900m (£760m) a year. But the amount is still far short of the extra €25.4bn Germany would have to spend on defence each year to meet Nato’s annual target of 2 per cent of GDP.

The UK is one of only five Nato members to meet the target at present, along with the US, Greece, Estonia and Poland.

Despite boasting the largest economy in Europe, Germany lags far behind, spending only 1.19 per cent of its GDP on defence in 2016.


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