Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Bundeswehr is the name of the armed forces of Germany. It is a federal defence force with Army (Heer), Navy (Marine), Air Force (Luftwaffe), Central Medical Services (Zentraler Sanitätsdienst) and Joint Service Support Command (Streitkräftebasis) branches. It employs some 250,000 personnel, 50,000 of whom are 18-30-year-old men on national duty for currently at least 9 months. In peacetime, the Bundeswehr is commanded by the Minister of Defence, currently Peter Struck (since 2002). If Germany is in a state of defence, the chancellor becomes commander in chief of the Bundeswehr.
|Military age||18 years of age|
|Availability||males age 15-49: 20,863,020 (2000 est.)|
|Fit for military service||males age 15-49: 17,800,862 (2000 est.)|
|Reaching military age annually||males: 485,422 (2000 est.)|
|Dollar figure||$30.08 billion (FY04)|
(EUR 24.06 billion)
|Percent of GDP||1.5% (FY98)|
The Bundeswehr was established in 1955 as the successor of the Wehrmacht and the earlier Reichswehr, after some discussion about re-militarizing Germany (the Wiederbewaffnung) after World War II; by changing the German Grundgesetz (basic law, Germany's constitution). In 1955 West Germany became a NATO member. The Bundeswehr adopted a form of the Iron Cross as its symbol. The Iron Cross has a long history, being awarded as a military decoration since 1813, and earlier associations with the Teutonic knights. A simplified form of the Iron Cross was used by its predecessors the Wehrmacht and the Reichswehr.
In 1956, a conscription for all men between 18 and 45 in years was introduced, later on augmented by the introduction of a civil alternative with longer duration.
During the Cold War the Bundeswehr was the backbone of NATO's conventional defence in Central Europe. It had a strength of 495,000 military and 170,000 civilian personnel. The Army consisted of three corps with 12 divisions, most of them heavily armed with tanks and APCs. The Air Force owned major numbers of tactical combat aircraft and took part in NATOs integrated air defence (NATINAD ). The Navy was tasked and equipped to defend the Baltic Approaches and to contain the Soviet Baltic Fleet.
The Bundeswehr currently consists of about 250,000 military and about 100,000 civilian personnel. The Army is organized in 5 combat divisions and also owns partly multinational command structures at the corps level. The Luftwaffe is divided in 3 Divisons, and the Navy in 2 flotillas. The Central Medical Services and the Joint Service Support Command each are organized in four regional commands. All of these branches also have some general commands for training, procurement, and other general issues.
The role of the Bundeswehr is described in the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz) (Art. 87a) as defensive only. Today defence is seen as including not only defence at the borders of Germany, but also as crisis reaction and conflict prevention, or broadly as saving the security of Germany. According to a definition by Defence Minister Struck, it may be necessary to defend Germany also at the Hindukush. This allows the Bundeswehr to take part in missions outside of the borders of Germany, as part of the NATO or mandated by the UN.
Since the early 1990s the Bundeswehr has become more and more engaged in international missions in and around the former Yugoslavia but also in other parts of the world like Cambodia or Somalia. After the September 11, 2001 attacks German forces were employed in most related theatres except Iraq. Currently there are Bundeswehr forces in:
- 2,430 personnel
- 2,600 personnel
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- 12 personnel
- Ethiopia and Eritrea
- 2 personnel
- Horn of Africa/Indian Ocean
- Enduring Freedom
- 310 personnel
- Maritime Patrol Aircraft
- Mediterranean Sea
In support of Allied stabilisation efforts for Iraq the Bundeswehr is also training the new Iraqi forces in locations outside Iraq such as the United Arab Emirates and Germany.
- Bundeswehr - Official site
- kamouflage.net: online index of camouflage uniforms
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