21st Century Warfare (I)

BERLIN/BRUNSSUM |

BERLIN/BRUNSSUM (Own report) - The Bundeswehr plays a key role in the current restructuring of NATO's rapid intervention force. The implementation of a "Very High Readiness Joint Task Force" (VJTF) of between 5,000 and 7,000 troops for future offensive operations, known as "Spearhead," is an integral element in this process. Half of the troops will be German. NATO's Allied Joint Force Commander for Northern and Eastern Europe, German Colonel-General Hans-Lothar Domröse is in charge of the creation of the VJTF. According to Domröse, the objective is to get the western military alliance "into shape" for "waging wars in the 21st Century," which is particularly expressed in the capacity "to be able to control a territorially limited destabilization by elusive subversive enemy forces." The core of the VJTF will be comprised of the Mechanized Infantry Battalion 371, which disposes of the most modern weapons systems and is stationed in Marienberg (Saxony). The unit has demonstrated its combat readiness in two maneuvers last year. Both maneuvers were to train for combating insurgent separatists - a scenario, the Bundeswehr describes as, "very realistic in the current political environment."

Highest Relevance

According to the Bundeswehr, the creation of a "Very High Readiness Joint Task Force" (VJTF) within NATO's Response Force (NRF) is of the "highest political relevance."[1] Half of the 5,000 to 7,000 man strong unit will be comprised of German troops. The contingent will be prepared to engage in offensive operations anywhere in the world within a matter of two to five days. "The challenges to the current security policy in NATO's eastern territory, as well as the crises in Northern Africa, Syria and Iraq have demonstrated that military reaction time must be appreciably shortened." The ultimate objective is the control over the NRF, for which the VJTF will serve as its "spearhead." "With Germany's early engagement, there offers ... the possibility of exercising decisive influence on the final configuration of NATO's concepts."[2]

The Porsche among Porsches

The creation of the VJTF is essentially under the command of German Colonel-General Hans-Lothar Domröse, the commander of NATO's "Allied Joint Force Command," headquartered in Brunssum, The Netherlands. Domröse told the German press that the western military alliance "must be put into shape for possibly waging wars in the 21st Century." "This includes defending against conventional attacks, as well as the capability of warding off cyber attacks or controlling territorially limited destabilization by elusive subversive forces." Therefore, the VJTF only accepts those states "with the necessary hi-tech equipment and the correspondingly trained soldiers." "The troops must be the best equipped and best trained and they must be on permanent alert, even on the weekend." This, on the other hand, calls for "high investments," especially since the the VJTF is "dependent upon a huge air fleet," to "rapidly reach its mission locations."[3] The unit will have not only ground troops, but sailors, troops from the air force along with "special forces" at its disposal, explained Domröse. "The VJTF is the Porsche among Porsches - that fast and that good."[4]

Complete Range of Missions

The Mechanized Infantry Battalion 371, stationed in Marienberg (Saxony), which also made up this year's German battle group in NATO's Response Force, is the core of the German segment of the VJTF. These troops, under the command of the Mechanized Infantry Brigade 37, are equipped with the most modern weapons systems, including "Marder" armored infantry fighting vehicles, "Fennek" light armored reconnaissance vehicles, "Boxer" armored fighting vehicles, reconnaissance drones and night-vision equipment. During a recent visit to the Mechanized Infantry Battalion 371, Lt. Gen. Bruno Kasdorf, Inspector General of the Army, declared that it is planned for the unit "to be ready to move out within five to seven days, from early April on."[5] The Mechanized Infantry Brigade 37 lays also claim to being prepared to cover "all ranges of missions," including classical military combat operations, human intelligence by interrogation of combat zone civilians, setting up roadblocks and cordoning off "points of impact" as well as dispersing demonstrations.[6]

Realistic Counterinsurgency

Marienberg's Mechanized Infantry Battalion 371 has already proven its operational readiness in two large-scale maneuvers, last year. Together with the I. German/Netherlands Corps, headquartered in Münster, the Mechanized Infantry Battalion 371 participated in the "Reliable Sword" maneuver conducted near Nieuw Milligen in late May 2014. The I. German/Netherlands Corps currently is in command of the NATO's Response Force. According to the Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands, this maneuver was based on 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." The script included classical paratrooper operations aimed at militarily breaking the resistance of the insurgents. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[7]) Similar scenarios were played out in the September 2014 "Noble Ledger" exercise, in Elverum (Norway) with units of the mechanized infantry battalion 371. That scenario was also focused on military operations against separatists, allegedly responsible for an "illegal declaration of independence" for a province of a fictitious country. Clear resemblance to the Ukrainian situation was obviously intended. According to the Bundeswehr, the scenario seemed "very real in the current political environment."[8]

High Operational Readiness

To implement NATO's "Spearhead," the Szczecin, Poland-based Multinational Corps Northeast (MNC NE), established by Germany, Poland and Denmark, would play a similar central role as Marienberg's Mechanized Infantry Battalion 371. Under the alternating command of a German and a Polish general, the MNC NE will be upgraded to become the command authority for the VJTF. It will also be in command of the logistical bases, known as "NATO Force Integration Units" (NFIUs), which were set up in the Baltic countries, in Poland, Rumania, and Bulgaria in support of NATO's "Spearhead." To this end, the MNC NE's staff will be augmented to 400, one third of whom from the Bundeswehr. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[9]) It will simultaneously be upgraded to become the "headquarters for the high readiness forces," and must be prepared to command combat operations within a "warning period" of 30 to 90 days. In two tri-lateral accords, the defense ministers of Germany, Poland and Denmark have already confirmed that this will "enhance the capability to react to future threats and challenges." In this context, western commentators, as a matter of course, refer to an alleged necessity for NATO's eastern member states to defend themselves against Russian aggression. What they leave unmentioned is the fact that the tri-lateral MNC NE accords refer explicitly to "command responsibilities throughout the alliance's mission spectrum" [10] - which includes global military interventions.

[1] Planungen für die VJTF: Frühzeitig einbinden - gemeinsam zum Erfolg führen. www.deutschesheer.de 25.02.2015.
[2] NATO-Speerspitze im Fokus: Testbed-Phase läuft an. www.deutschesheer.de 06.03.2015.
[3] Nato plant Elitetruppe gegen Bedrohung aus Osten. www.welt.de 07.11.2014.
[4] VJTF: Die NATO wird noch schneller. www.bmvg.de 16.10.2014.
[5] Panzergrenadierbataillon 371 in Marienberg für die Testphase VJTF einsatzbereit. www.deutschesheer.de 12.03.2015.
[6] NRF 2015: Panzergrenadierbrigade 37 bereitet sich vor. www.deutschesheer.de 09.12.2014.
[7] See Der deutsche Weg zur EU-Armee (III).
[8] Trainieren zum Reagieren: NATO Response Force 2015. www.deutschesheer.de 24.09.2014.
[9] See Ein Ring um Russland (II).
[10] Trilaterale Erklärung zum HQ Multinationales Korps Nordost auf dem NATO-Gipfel vom 4. bis 5. September 2014. Eine annähernd gleichlautende Erklärung verabschiedeten die Verteidigungsminister Deutschlands, Polens und Dänemarks beim Treffen der NATO-Verteidigungsminister am 5. Februar 2015 in Brüssel.