The German Path to an EU Army (III)

BERLIN/THE HAGUE | | niederlande

BERLIN/THE HAGUE (Own report) - German politicians, military officials and the media consider the subordination of combat units of other European nations to German Bundeswehr command to be a role model for a future EU army. The integration of a paratrooper unit from the Netherlands into the German Army's covert operations and counter-insurgency unit of the Rapid Forces Division (DSK) is considered a "milestone of integration." An armored contingent from the Netherlands will soon be integrated into a German cavalry unit, along the same lines. The European Air Transport Command (EATC) stationed in Eindhoven, the Netherlands - currently under a German commanding officer - is also being praised as an "effective model of cooperation." According to its own accounts, the Bundeswehr sees the EATC as a clear extension of its "radius of operations," providing bases stretching "from be the Baltic Sea almost to Gibraltar."

Unprecedented Loss of Sovereignty

As the German press puts it, the Bundeswehr is the "trailblazer for a European army."[1] The subordination of the Netherlands' 11th Airborne Brigade under the German Army's Rapid Forces Division (DSK) command is presented as evidence. (The DSK is specialized in covert operations and counter-insurgency.) "Never before has a European country's military unit been included in a major military unit of another European country. No state has ever renounced on this fundamental core component of its sovereignty." "Without a doubt," this makes the armed forces of the Netherlands and of Germany "the vanguard."[2]

Model for the EU

Last summer's, subordination of the 11th Airborne Brigade of the Netherlands under the DSK's command was accompanied by massive propaganda in favor of the creation of an EU army. For example, at a DSK mustering ceremony in Stadtallendorf, German Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen (CDU), in the presence of her counterpart from the Netherlands, Jeanine Hennis-Plaschaert, spoke of a "new era" in the two countries' cooperation. This era corresponds to "the optimal European spirit" and has the wherewithal to serve as a "model" for a "joint defense and security policy."[3] The Bundeswehr then declared that the armies of Germany and the Netherlands are now "marching in the front ranks of progress."[4] The new "subordination relationship" is a "historically unique, unprecedented occurrence."[5]

Growing Together

The DSK - which also includes the German (KSK) Special Forces Commandos, which had been involved in extrajudicial executions in Afghanistan - hopes to greatly enhance its combat strength by taking command of the 11th Airborne Brigade of the Netherlands. The two units are oriented toward similar combat scenarios. According to the DSK, these include "operations against unconventional forces" such as "terrorists, guerrillas or partisans," but also commando actions "behind enemy lines," as well as attacks with the objective of "quickly assuming control of elements of infrastructure, such as ports or airfields."[6] According to the Bundeswehr, the fact that Germans are commanding is not an issue for the airborne troops from the Netherlands, who have participated in wars in Yugoslavia, Iraq and in Afghanistan - on the contrary. As proof, the Bundeswehr quotes one of the "old guard" of the airborne brigade: "we, as a brigade, can also learn from the German concept. What we, from the Netherlands, contribute is a good operational planning. If we put that all together, we will have a very good organization." Another - one of the "newer members on the team" - is quoted saying, "we should train together and fight together. ... I believe, it is good, if we all develop together into one good army."[7]

Experienced Headquarters

At the First German/Netherlands Corps (GNC), stationed near Münster, Germany's massive drive for military cooperation has long since become reality. Created in 1995, the unit of 1,100 can, if needed, be available within a few days to both NATO and the EU for combat missions anywhere in the world. Consisting of military officers from Germany and the Netherlands, the corps commando, serving NATO as its "headquarters on high alert," has participated in combat operations in Afghanistan and, according to its own accounts, has a "highly mobile, totally self-sustaining command post, that can be used completely independently of local infrastructure."[8] The unit's motto is "Communitate Valemus" - "Together, We are Strong."

Break Resistance

The 1st GNC sharpens its prowess in maneuvers such as "Reliable Sword." This past May, according to the Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands, this maneuver was held in the vicinity of Nieuw Milligen on the basis of the following scenario: "armed insurgents are endangering the stability of a fictitious country. The government of the country called on the international community for help in restoring domestic tranquility."[9] This script bears a strong resemblance to the Ukrainian situation and includes classical paratrooper operations aimed at militarily breaking the resistance of the insurgents. The program also had a "civilian-military cooperation" accompaniment. According to the Bundeswehr, the training included "intensive communication with civilian, official and non-governmental organizations, as well as with local representatives of the country of the mission."[10] German President Joachim Gauck, one of those observing the maneuvers, announced how "utterly impressed" he was at the German/Netherlands military cooperation: "I have learned a very good sentence here: We must know one another, before we need one another. Obviously, that pays off in crisis regions."[11]

Additional Plans of Integration

The participation of the 11th Airborne Brigade from the Netherlands was also essential in the "Reliable Sword" maneuver. The 11th Airborne is now being placed under German DSK command. Evidently, this cooperation model will soon be further expanded. The 43rd Mechanized Brigade of the Netherlands is to merge into the Bundeswehr's 1st Cavalry Division. According to the German armed forces, both units recently held a "workshop," wherein DSK staff officers reported on "the meaning of a major German unit's expanded cooperation with its counterpart from the Netherlands."[12] The Bundeswehr even has a direct influence on the training of soldiers from the Netherlands. They are being instructed in the use of the armored-howitzer 2000 at the Bundeswehr's artillery school in Idar-Oberstein. That weapons system, produced by the German arms manufacturers Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall, known for its devastating destruction, was last used in Afghanistan.

Global Mobility

The German armed forces praise its cooperation within the framework of the European Air Transport Command (EATC) as particularly "effective." That unit stationed in Eindhoven (Netherlands) coordinates the missions of the air transport fleets of EU members Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, and Spain. The primary objective, according to the German military, is the "creation of global mobility" of troops and combat material - for example in "support of special forces operations."[13] Particularly Spain's joining EATC - which since July is under a German commander - has been enthusiastically welcomed by the German Air Force. This has significantly extended one's own "radius of operations." "A multi-national air transport fleet, whose bases of operations reach from the Baltic Sea almost to Gibraltar, is at the disposal of the Bundeswehr."[14]

Please read also The German Path to an EU Army (I) and The German Path to an EU Army (II).

[1] Europa-Armee fasst Tritt. 27.10.2014.
[2] Deutschland treibt das Projekt Europaarmee voran. 07.08.2014.
[3] Rede der Ministerin Ursula von der Leyen in Stadtallendorf. 12.06.2014.
[4] Starkes Zeichen für gemeinsame Verantwortung in Europa. 13.06.2014.
[5] Die Neuen im Team. 11.03.2014.
[6] Division Schnelle Kräfte - Auftrag. 25.08.2014.
[7] Die Neuen im Team. 11.03.2014.
[8] I. Deutsch-Niederländisches Korps - Auftrag und Kräfte. 25.11.2013.
[9] Scenario en verloop Reliable Sword.
[10] Stabilisierungs-Mission im holländischen Regierungsviertel. 19.05.2014.
[11] Bundespräsident und Generalinspekteur besuchen "Reliable Sword". 14.05.2014.
[12] Erstes Arbeitstreffen zwischen 1. Panzerdivision und der 43. Niederländischen Mechanisierten Brigade. 24.09.2014.
[13] Europäisches Lufttransportkommando (EATC) - Auftrag. 11.07.2014.
[14] Deutschland übernimmt die Führung beim europäischen Lufttransport. 04.07.2014.