Neutral and Non-Partisan


BERLIN/NIENBURG AN DER WESER (Own report) - The German Red Cross (DRK) and the German Bundeswehr have entered an unprecedented cooperation agreement. The so-called Future Pact foresees the direct integration of the DRK into the "Civil-Military Cooperation Center" of the German military located in Nienburg in Lower Saxony. The relief organization will also maintain a "permanent liaison office" and participate both in the planning and execution of combat operations. Back in 2003, the DRK explicitly committed itself to "cooperate" in military missions. In 2008, a federal law stipulated that the primary "task" of the relief organization was to "support the Bundeswehr's medical service." Since 2009, the DRK has maintained its own "representative for civil-military cooperation." Since last year, this cooperation has been exercised within the framework of the "Joint Cooperation" maneuvers, which are explicitly aimed at the implementation of the "network" of the military and relief organizations, to be applied in foreign missions in civil war regions.

Future Pact

As the Bundeswehr announced, the German Red Cross (DRK) and the German armed forces have entered a cooperation agreement for "the first time in history." The agreement, entitled "Future Pact," foresees the direct integration of the DRK into the "Civil-Military Cooperation Center" of the German military located in Nienburg, Lower Saxony, where the relief organization will maintain a "permanent liaison office" and function as a "consistent contact" for training military personnel. The "conceptual cooperation in the formulation, editing and further development of regulations," is also planned. The agreement's declared objective - touted as "a milestone" in civil-military cooperation - is the DRK's cooperation in the Bundeswehr's combat operations. "Both organizations conduct ... active networking to optimize the measures for preparing and executing missions." Generaloberstabsarzt Karl Wilhelm Demmer (equiv. to Surgeon General of the US Army), who signed the agreement on behalf of the DRK presidium, summarized the underlying aspirations as: "Actually, we are from very different worlds, however, from the same battlefields, and have the same norms and values. Therefore, it stands to reason that we would work closer together and, above all, on a functional level."[1]

Humanitarian Armed Forces

Already back in 2003, the DRK explicitly committed itself in a "position paper" to "cooperate with the Bundeswehr." Fitting to the concept of this declaration, the "classical separation of roles - military from non-military functions" - were declared passé. After all, the German military's operations in Serbia's Kosovo province and in Afghanistan have demonstrated "that the armed forces, to a growing extent, are also fulfilling humanitarian missions," according to the reasoning. The "DRK's cooperation in the Bundeswehr's medical service," is an element of the "statutory tasks" of that relief organization, declared the authors. At the same time, cooperation with the German armed forces "on foreign territory" in "purely in cases of natural catastrophes," is in any case, "no problem."[2]

Civil-Military Cooperation

In October 2008, the German Bundestag - under pressure from the DRK - passed a "law to amend the regulations governing the German Red Cross." ( reported.[3]) Analogous to regulations formulated by the Nazi regime in 1937, this "support for the medical service" of the German armed forces was promoted to the level of the primary "task" of this relief organization.[4] However, according to the DRK, this does not mean that medical personnel are being militarily "obligated." For example, it stipulates that "cooperation" in Bundeswehr combat operations can be refused, if "Red Cross principles," such as "neutrality" and "non-partisanship" or the "security" of DRK personnel are "unwarrantedly adversely affected."[5] In spite of this, soon after the law came into effect, the presidium of the DRK named a "representative for civil-military cooperation." This function was filled with the German military's highest ranking doctor, Karl Wilhelm Demmer. For 25 years, Demmer had been on the armed forces' payroll, ultimately as the military's "Medical Service Inspector." It was he, who signed the cooperation accord, concluded between the Bundeswehr and the DRK.

Cooperation under Battlefield Conditions

According to the DRK Presidium, Demmer is responsible for the continuous "expansion" of relations with the Bundeswehr [6] - apparently with great success. Already in 2011 for example, the Berlin DRK regional association signed an agreement of cooperation in "case of a catastrophe" with the Bundeswehr's 31 Medical Regiment stationed in the German capital.[7] That same year, the DRK's blood donation service for Neubrandenburg and the regional reservist association entered a similar agreement. On the occasion of the DRK's signing of the "Future Pact," the German armed forces pointed to the long-standing cooperation between the two organizations. "Both contractual partners could often be seen together over the past few decades. The contacts ranged from joint training periods at the Academy for Crisis Management, emergency planning, civil defense, aid and support measures in the context of German domestic natural catastrophe management on up to cooperation under foreign battlefield conditions."[8]

In the NATO Framework

The DRK and the Bundeswehr are training for cooperation within the framework of combat missions, particularly during maneuvers such as "Joint Cooperation." This maneuver was carried out for the first time, last year in Nienburg, Lower Saxony, hosted by the "Civil-Military Cooperation Center of the Bundeswehr," which will include a "permanent liaison office" of the DRK. According to the Bundeswehr, "Joint Cooperation" was based on the scenario of a "natural catastrophe" in the fictitious country "Tytan" at the Horn of Africa. "Subsequent to protracted civil unrest between various ethnic groups, the country was stabilized. The natural disaster threatened to cause lasting disruptions. NATO's Interim Multinational Force (NIMFOR) was ordered to stabilize the situation in Tytan and particularly in its capital Unakos, with the help of members of the Civil-Military Cooperation." The successful "integration of civilian organizations, such as the Federal Agency for Technical Relief; (THW) and the DRK" was not merely a "highlight"; it was also "expedient for the mutual learning process."[9]

Analogue to the Ukrainian Civil War

In October of this year, the "Civil-Military Cooperation Center of the Bundeswehr" plans to carry out another "Joint Cooperation" maneuver. This time, analogue to the Ukrainian civil war, the scenario will be extended to include an OSCE "observer mission" in the region of intervention.[10] The DRK's participation is already planned in.

[1] Kooperationsvereinbarung: Deutsches Rotes Kreuz und Bundeswehr. 09.02.2015.
[2] Positionspapier Zivil-Militärische Zusammenarbeit des Deutschen Roten Kreuzes. Deutsches Komitee Katastrophenvorsorge e.V. Infoblatt 3/2003
[3] See Zivilisten im Auslandseinsatz.
[4] Gesetz zur Änderung von Vorschriften über das Deutsche Rote Kreuz v. 05.12.2008. Bundesgesetzblatt, Jahrgang 2008, Teil I, Nr. 56, Bonn 10.12.2008.
[5] Das Rotkreuzgesetz von Oktober 2008. 07.11.2008.
[6] Das Präsidium.
[7] Gelebte Zivil-Militärische Zusammenarbeit. 23.08.2012.
[8] Kooperationsvereinbarung: Deutsches Rotes Kreuz und Bundeswehr. 09.02.2015.
[9] Joint Cooperation ist zukunftsweisende Übung. 04.11.2014.
[10] Joint Cooperation 2015 - 30. Oktober bis 6. November 2015. 09.02.2015.