The German Path to an EU Army (I)

BERLIN | | polen

BERLIN (Own report) - The German government is accelerating the creation of an EU army by means of bilateral military cooperation. The German-Polish "declaration of intent" on military cooperation of the two countries' armed forces, signed in the middle of the week, is the most recent example. The agreement includes the exchange and joint training of officers as well as "placing combat battalions under the other's command." Poland's military already has more than 130 German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks with another 120 due to be added by 2015. A sales contract to this effect was signed last year, only a few months after an agreement "reinforcing" cooperation between the Navies of the two countries was signed. At the time, German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) spoke of a "totally new quality" in the military cooperation between Germany and Poland. His successor, Ursula von der Leyen (CDU), has gone a step further and had her ministry declare that the intended German-Polish military cooperation is a "trendsetting milestone for the development of European integrated military structures."

A Milestone

On the occasion of the "Bundeswehr Conference" that ended yesterday in Berlin, a high-level conference of the German military, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) and her Polish counterpart Tomasz Siemoniak signed a "declaration of intent on German-Polish military cooperation." The agreement includes both the creation of a "mutual military liaison organization" as well as the "reinforcement of cooperation" between their respective cavalry troops, military reconnaissance, mountain troops and artillery units. The exchange of officers and the joint officer cadet training is also planned. The agreement's declared objective is to reinforce the "interoperability" of both armies - coordinate their synergy in battle. Consequently, the "declaration of intent" is not limited to training sessions and maneuvers, but explicitly provides for "placing combat battalions under the other's command." Following the signing, von der Leyen had her ministry declare that the intended German-Polish military cooperation is a "trendsetting milestone for the development of European integrated military structures." This label is synonymous with an EU army under German command.[1]

"Totally New Quality"

An agreement providing for close cooperation between the German and Polish Navies was signed by the two countries in late May of last year. ( reported.[2]) The accord contains 28 "projects," ranging from "joint training," and "joint surveillance of the Baltic Sea Area" to "joint combat missions."[3] The significance of mines and submarine warfare were stressed particularly in the "Declaration of Intent." Reference was also made to the "interoperability" of the German and Polish Navies, which, among other things, can be seen in the fact that both Navies use RBS 15 MK3 (robot system missiles for maritime and land-based targets).[4] This missile, according to the manufacturers, German Diehl BGT Defence company and the Swedish Saab Dynamics, disposes of a range of over 200 km and the capability of circumventing islands. Its low altitude flight path and its "unpredictable evasive maneuvers in the final flight stage" provides it with a "high degree of efficiency," in regards to avoiding enemy anti-aircraft defenses.[5] Similar to the current defense minister, the Minister of Defense at the time, Thomas de Maizière (CDU) had emphasized the "totally new quality" of the German-Polish military cooperation sealed with that naval agreement. At the time, there was obviously no question of the German claim to leadership. As the Bundeswehr acknowledged after the signing, de Maizière's counterpart, Siemoniak, "explicitly" expressed his gratitude for the cooperation - after all, it "is particularly important for the further conceptual development of the Polish Navy."[6]

Direct Links

The "interoperability" and "further development" of the Polish armed forces is also served by their being equipped with Leopard 2 battle tanks, developed by the German company, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. The Polish army already has more than 130 of these tanks, and is due to acquire around 120 more by 2015. A sales contract to this effect was signed last year, a few months after the accord "reinforcing" cooperation between the Navies of the two countries. De Maizière, Defense Minister at the time, called the deal "another component of the very close and persisting cooperation between the armed forces of our two countries."[7] The Leopard 2 is used by the 11th Polish Armored Cavalry Div., which is linked via a liaison officer to the 1st Armored Div. of the German Bundeswehr. Evidently, the intention is to further expand this model of cooperation with the Polish armed forces. According to a Bundeswehr announcement, the 43rd Mechanized Brigade of the Netherlands is soon scheduled to be placed under the direct command of the Bundeswehr's 1st Armored Div.[8]

Key Role

As a good example of German-Polish military cooperation, military circles like to point to the collaboration within the "Multinational Corps Northeast" (MNC NE), headquartered in Poland's Szczecin. The German military's Inspector General, Bruno Kasdorf, recently referred to it as "our largest joint project."[9] The unit, formed in 1999 under the initiative of Germany, Poland and Denmark, is a permanent feature in NATO's European command structure and, according to the Bundeswehr, is capable of "commanding major multinational units." As the military explains, the MNC NE plays a "key role in the integration of new members in the framework of NATO's eastward expansion."[10] Members of the corps, which is alternatively commanded by a German and a Polish general, have done multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan. After Poland, Germany accounts for the second largest contingent and, thanks to this fact, has a military base on Polish territory. The Bundeswehr maintains an on-base administrative office at the MNC NE headquarters, which, according to the Bundeswehr's own accounts, is in charge of "assistance of all German service personnel, civilian employees and their families in Poland" - this, includes "plans for maneuvers in Poland with the participation of German troops."[11]


In 2016, Poland is scheduled to become a member of the Strasburg France-based "Eurocorps". In the early 1990s, this unit, comprised of Germans, French, Spaniards and Belgians, was conceived as the EU's military headquarters and took on several command responsibilities in the framework of various wars of aggression - for example in Serbia's Kosovo province and in Afghanistan. If necessary, "Eurocorps," which, at regular intervals, provides personnel for NATO's rapid deployment force, can field up to 60,000 combat troops. As the Bundeswehr explained, the Eurocorps, therefore, provides the "basis for an efficient Army of Europe with an autonomous command structure."[12]

[1] Absichtserklärung zu einer Deutsch-Polnischen Heereskooperation. 29.10.2014.
[2] See Under German Command.
[3] Vertiefung der deutsch-polnischen Zusammenarbeit. 27.05.2013.
[4] Declaration of Intent between the Federal Ministry of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Minister of National Defence of the Republic of Poland on Enhanced Maritime Cooperation. Rostock-Warnemünde 27.05.2013.
[5] Lenkflugkörper RBS15 Mk3.
[6] Vertiefung der deutsch-polnischen Zusammenarbeit. 27.05.2013.
[7] Deutschland und Polen unterzeichnen Vertrag zum Kauf von Leopard Kampfpanzern. 22.11.2013.
[8] Erstes Arbeitstreffen zwischen 1. Panzerdivision und der 43. Niederländischen Mechanisierten Brigade. 24.09.2014.
[9] Inspekteur des Heeres zu Gast beim Tag der Polnischen Streitkräfte in Warschau. 19.08.2013.
[10] Multinationales Korps Nordost. 22.08.2014.
[11] Bundeswehrverwaltungsstelle Polen. 02.12.2013.
[12] Eurokorps. 30.09.2014.