Maneuver in Civilian Setting

BERLIN (Own report) - The German Bundeswehr is drastically expanding its training activities directed against Russia, in preparation to take command of NATO´s "spearhead" force next year and its participation in NATO's major "Trident Juncture" exercises at the end of this year. The German army's 9th Armored Demonstration Brigade stationed in Munster (Lower-Saxony) forms the core of the 8,000-strong "Very High Readiness Joint Task Force" (VJTF), NATO's "spearhead" unit. Combat in civilian settings is obviously one of its major tasks. Just recently, the Brigade was awarded a "top grade" as a NATO combat unit - after demonstrating its house-to-house-combat capabilities. Already last April, sections of the Brigade had participated in an exercise with command posts set up not on a combat training ground but on regularly run farms. "Camouflaged armored personnel carriers" were standing "alongside tractors and other agricultural machines," the Bundeswehr noted - "at close range" to the civilian population.


War in the City

On June 19, NATO awarded the 9th Armored Demonstration Brigade's "Very High Readiness Joint Task Force Land" (VJTF - L) combat unit the "top grade" following a large exercise at the combat training center in Altmark (Saxony-Anhalt), the Bundeswehr announced.[1] The center includes the Schnöggersburg training town, with its nearly 500 buildings, divided into the "historic old city," various residential areas, an industrial district and a slum. ( reported.[2]) The 1,700 German, Dutch, and Norwegian soldiers - with more than 80 armored combat vehicles, including German Leopard 2A6 battle tanks - had demonstrated their house-to-house-combat capabilities, notes the Bundeswehr. "In a rapid assault, battle tanks and Dutch soldiers prepared the operation for Norwegian infantry in the town. Together with the Norwegians, German light and mechanized infantry were waging battles in the military training town from house to house and from floor to floor."[3]

War on the Farm

Already last April, a unit of Germany's 9th Armored Demonstration Brigade was training for combat in a civilian setting - to prepare its "mission" as part of the VJTF. Soldiers of the 3rd Reconnaissance Demonstration Battalion stationed in Lüneburg (Lower Saxony) did not set up its command posts on a combat training ground, but rather on regularly run farms in the region. According to the Bundeswehr, "camouflaged armored personnel carriers" were thus standing "alongside tractors and other agricultural machines" and "soldiers were among the farm workers." Officials celebrate the exercise as a successful PR action. "For many of the curious" it was a "welcomed change from every-day life," because they could observe "at close range" the education and training of the soldiers. However, one can also see it as soldiers practicing how to use the civilians on hand as human shields: "See much without being seen," is the 3rd Reconnaissance Demonstration Battalion's motto.[4]

War in the Village

Last year's maneuvers, wherein Bundeswehr VJTF units were involved, tended also to be geared toward preparations for war scenarios in civilian settings. Within the framework of the 2017 "Icy Heather" military exercises, for example, troops of the 91st Light Infantry Battalion practiced "retaking" a village occupied by "enemy forces," according to the official description.[5] In February 2017, the Baumholder training grounds (in Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate) hosted another VJTF maneuver. The 325th Artillery Demonstration Battalion explained that the training included not only "support fire for combat troops," but also "combat against objectives ... in the depths of the combat zone" along with the "laying of mortar mine barriers" and "precision combat of high-profile targets at great distances." The troops were supported, according to the maneuver report, by tornado jet fighters dropping 250 kg 25E Matra bombs.[6] German military press reports that this type of bomb serves primarily to destroy "soft" targets - civilian targets - "buildings," "streets," "rail lines," and "supply installations" are explicitly named.[7]

Combat Ready

Recently Germany's Inspector General, Lt. Gen. Jörg Vollmer, showed confidence in the results of this training, saying that by next year, the VJTF under Bundeswehr command will "react rapidly to all possible scenarios and carry out its mission appropriately." The general also made it absolutely clear that the VJTF has all of the necessary tanks and artillery systems at their disposal to fulfill its mission." "There is no question of us having to do without any kind of heavy machinery needed to complete our eventual mission." In this context, Vollmer pointed to the participation of Germany's VJTF units in NATO's major "Trident Juncture" maneuvers later in the year. "These exercises are an important milestone. NATO will put the VJTF armored combat group to the test and certify its combat readiness. I have no doubt of this."[8]

Combat Exercises against Russia

In the meantime, the leadership of the western military alliance has begun to release initial details about the "Trident Juncture." The maneuvers will be held in October/November in Norway and Iceland, with more than 40,000 soldiers coming from NATO countries and the still officially neutral Finland and Sweden. As Admiral James Foggo (USA), commander of the maneuvers explained in a press conference, an "Article 5 scenario" will be exercised, wherein the western military alliance will be sending the German-.commanded VJTF in reaction to the "violation of Norway's sovereignty" by an aggressor. The representatives of the media, approvingly accepted the fact that, given the situation, only Russia could be meant as "aggressor" - and from NATO, this presumption was not contradicted.[9]

"Total Defense"

Analogous to "Trident Juncture 2015" ( reported [10]) it was announced that NATO seeks to demonstrate its ability to "defend and provide a deterrent effect, ready to respond to any threat, from any direction at any time." The German perception of "highly intensive" warfare, carried out in a civilian setting, is evidently the general standard. According to the Norwegian representative at NATO's Military Committee, Vice Admiral Ketil Olsen, it is all about establishing a "total defense concept," wherein the sum of "civilian and military efforts" are bundled to handle a "crisis."[11]



[1] Zertifiziert - Speerspitze der NATO ist kampfbereit. 21.06.2018.

[2] See also Urban Operations (II).

[3] Zertifiziert - Speerspitze der NATO ist kampfbereit. 21.06.2018.

[4] Vorbereitung VJTF - zwischen Treckern und Landmaschinen. 27.04.2018.

[5] Schnelle Eingreiftruppe der NATO: Ein personeller und materieller Kraftakt. 13.04.2018.

[6] VJTF-Übung: Artilleristen beweisen sich in Baumholder. 03.04.2017.

[7] Die Bewaffnung fliegender Waffensysteme der Luftwaffe.

[8] Deutscher Anteil der NATO-Speerspitze ist zeitgerecht einsatzbereit. 07.05.2018.

[9] Press briefing on Exercise Trident Juncture 2018. 11.06.2018.

[10] See also Message to the World.

[11] Press briefing on Exercise Trident Juncture 2018. 11.06.2018.