Inspired by the following quote
Konstantin, I am somehow with Quantasforever on this one. I don't trust the Bundeswehr, quite frankly. They are discussions, as you are aware, to give them limited authority for internal security, this would be a disaster! I prefer to make a good example, like Costa Rica, and get rid of it. Someone has to be the precursor for peace, why not Germany (for a change)?
by Subin (MrNiji) in the following thread: http://airliners.net/discussions/non_aviation/read.main/1585805/
1) What is the purpose and the role of the military in a modern industrial / post industrial democratic society?
2) Do we still need a military, how should it be set up (conscription, militia (like in Switzerland), volunteer part time
force (like the British Territorial Army), fully professional or a mix of those)?
3) Which restrictions should be imposed on the military ( e.g. posse comitatus and civilian control)?
4) How do we prevent the military from becoming a state within the state?
My opinion (based on Germany):
1) While Germany has enjoyed peace for the last 50 years and a direct threat by a foreign power has disappeared after the end of the Cold War (where Germany was the predicted battlefield between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces), this condition will not last forever. While there is little danger from our direct neighbours, Russia has under Putin become more and more Stalinist and recently pushed again for hegemonial control over her former satellite states.
On the other hand US President Bush's badly thought through adventures have IMO made the world quite a bit less safe than before, especially by showing how badly overstretched the US military are.
Additionally we are increasingly targeted by assymetric threats of non-governmental organisations, which follow various absolutist religious and political doctrines.
IMO opinion unilaterally disarming NEVER has made a country safer, quite the opposite (as can e.g. seen by Belgium in 1940, which, being neutral, did not even procure a few tanks and refused any military cooperation with France and the UK even after the German invasion in Poland, as not to provoke the Germans).
Agressors usually see steps like this as a sign of weakness, which needs to be exploited.
A Roman said 2000 years ago "If you want peace, prepare for war!"
I think it is the duty of every national government (this applies also to the leadership of multinational organisations like the EU and the WEU) to prepare plans for any reasonable emergency and to provide the means of dealing with them.
Thus e.g. the German government has a "White Book on Defense" which explains the current national security doctrine. This book was under discussion a few months ago, when conservatives wanted, similar to the US, to incluse free access to raw materials and markets into the requirements for using the Bundeswehr. IMO fortunately this proposal has been firmly rejected. IMO a country's refusal to deal with us or to sell us certain goods (oil etc.) should not be a reason for war.
2) The world has become more complex since the end of the cold war. Things like local conflicts in faraway countries, which a few decades ago wouldn't even have made it into the German newspapers are now having a direct impact on Germany (just remember the fights between Turks and Kurds in German cities in the 1990s or continued fights between Serb and Bosnia immigrants during the Yugoslav civil war).
Additionally, due to the huge number of Muslim immigrants, we currently have to deal with the impacts of the current inner Islamic conflicts about leadership in this religion (compare it to Europe during and just after the Christian reformation, when various sects and groups were fighting each other for control of the continent, leading to the 30 year war. IMO Islam is currently at the same stage, an inner religious conflict between traditionalists and reformers).
While we don't expect to have huge tank armies rolling across the border in near future (and opposite to the Cold War, Poland would, in case of a Russian agression be our ally and not our enemy), we can not discount a resurgence of Russian agression, based on Putin's involvement in various countries which once used to belong to the Russian/Soviet empire.
We will also have to play a much bigger role in international peacekeeping, this means, under a UN mandate, to help to stop local conflicts from becoming international or interegional conflicts.
We can not allow to have power vacua to happen again like in Somalia or Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal.
Germany is a medium sized country and as such can NOT afford to act unilaterally (even for the big US, it would have served them better if the current administration would have listened more to their European critical partners instead of offending them. It might have helped them to prevent the Middle East from becoming the quagmire it is today).
Germany's foreign and military policies have to be based firmly on mandates by multinational organisations like the EU, NATO or the WEU.
Additionally we still have to overcome the historical burden placed on us by previous generations. It will still take decades until we are being fully trusted again.
Now set in this context, what kind of military do we need?
Obviously we'll need a professional structure as the backbone, especially in the officer's corps. Also many modern weapons systems require a long time of training and experience to operate them efficiently.
But on the other hand a purely professional military can lead to an elitist attitude and a "state within the state" situation (like with thr Reichswehr in the Weimar Republic, where the staff were plotting against the elected government).
It will also lead to a certain "inbreeding" and disconnection from realities in society. One aspect can be seen in the refusal of people with liberal or leftwing attitude for joining the military (I'm excluding extreme Maoist or leninist groups, which demaned of their members to do military service in the Bundeswehr as military training for the future revolution) , while rightwing people (up to the extremist far right) volunteer for the service.
There are also many intelligent and educated people of liberal to moderately conservative attitude, who volunteered for the Bundeswehr, but quit at the first opportunity, being totally frustrated by continous bureacratic BS and red tape, seeing more future in the private sector, which is bad since I think that some of these people I have met would have made excellent officers or NCOs with very good leadership qualities if not having been suffocated by the existing structures.
The Bundeswehr is also a relatively new military. After WW2 an attempt was made in deliberately cutting off connections with past German miltary organisations, like the Imperial Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany. The Bundeswehr should be something new, free of wrong traditions. This was why e.g. a US type of uniform was introduced in the 1950s, while the rank badges are a mix of British and German (for NCOs) traditions.
Unfortunately the new Bundeswehr needed experienced NCOs and officers, which back then were only available with a Wehrmacht background. These officers and NCOs introduced Wehrmacht habits into the Bundeswehr, drill up to the 1970s was largely based on Wehrmacht traditions.
At the same time many civilians were and are not very much interested in military matters, leaving the Bundeswehr in a kind of ideological vacuum. This lead again to the introduction of Wehrmacht traditions, which again made the Bundeswehr more attractive to the rightwing fringe. At the same time leftwingers would usually decide to evade conscription or opt for the alternative civilian service (e.g. in hospitals or the fire brigade) instead.
Critical career officers or NCOs were often mobbed out of the military.
After the fall of the Berlin wall, many people who else would be unemployed or with a psychological attitude needing a rigidly structured enviroment would join up as well.
This culminated in the 1990s, when members of the Wachbattalion (the unit, which provides the guard of honour to foreign dignitaries) were caught running amok through a small town near Bonn in uniform shouting racist slogans and beating up immigrants.
These "soldiers" were arrested, formally charged, dishonourably discharged from the army and sentenced to long prison terms. the incident also caused a new awareness within the German government and the Bundeswehr for political background checks of recruits and soldiers, to make sure that they are not supporting extremist groups, as well as a cleaning out of "tradition rooms" in military barracks, in which often Wehrmacht units were glorified.
At the same time more and more naturalised immigrants are joining the German miltary. So it is not uncommon anymore e.g. to see a German NCO with a Turkish name.
At the moment the German military at at a cross roads. At the moment we don't need large traditional infantry/armoured forces anymore. Most of the duty of the Bundeswehr is peacekeeping in the name of the UN, the EU or the NATO. At the same time the conscription period has been reduced to less than one year. Basic and specialist training make up for most of this period, the moment the recruit is trained, his time in the military is over. Also conscription is being seen as increasingly unequal, being drafted or not is a lottery today, due to the small number of recruits needed in conscript positions (conscripts cannot be sent abroad, though many conscripts volunteer for a longer contract after their initial training, if only as not to become unemployed on the civilian labour market and are then elegible to be posted into combat zones abroad).
Another grievance is that while men are elegible for draft, women are not.
Concerning the issues Subin has with the Bundeswehr, mainly racist events, I think there are several reasons for them and ways to deal with them.
In first place it is the unit commander up to battalion level who decides to policies within his unit (based on the law and regulations). He has to enforce policies which are coherent with the constitution and other laws.
Then, many good NCOs and officers leave the military because they see better carreer options in civilian life (just look at the salaries: I, as a shift leader and aircraft maintenance engineer in a civilian company earn about as much as a major or lieutenant colonel in the Bundeswehr). This leaves the idiots.
Also I think that the age restrictions for recruits are a problem. Sure, a young man at the age of 18-25 is at the peak of physical performance. Still being quite imature, he can be more easily formed than an experienced person, who has e.g. been successfull in civilian life. On the other hand these young men are more easily brainwashed and not as likely to speak up if their superior talks rubbish.
Another thing I have noticed talking to professional soldiers is a certain feeling of elitism.
After all a soldier's contract requires the soldier not just to willingly risk his own life, but also demands of him the decision to take other people's lives as well (while, during my service in the civil defense, it was expected of me to risk my own life, e.g. I was trained to crawl into a partially collapsed building to rescue somebody, I did not have to make the descision to kill somebody else). This can lead to a feeling that, since it is expected of a soldier to risk his life and to kill, he is above the "generally cowardly civilian rabble". In some countries this attitude lead to military coups. Also many civilians are not interested in what happens behind the barracks wall.
I have noticed here on A.net as well, when e.g. military involvement in Iraq by American or british troops was discussed that there existed a certain attitude" You signed the contract, we our taxes for, now you do as you are told and we want to hear stries of success, but don't give us the unappetising details".
I think the solution for Germany for a better integration of the military in the society would be to introduce a voluntary reserve force, like the Territorial Army in the UK, opem to a larger age range (expect that the soldiers will not be as fit in a physical sense anymore, but they can bring a lot of experience from the civilian sectors and good common sense).
This still leaves the problem of the conscripts, again if we make the military purely voluntary, we'll see the rightwings taking over, while the leftwings will refuse to join. On the other hand we don't need a military as big as in the 1960s, maybe introducing a general national service, which would be mandatory for everybody in a certain age range, men as well as women, and could include a choice the military, hospitals, ambulance services, fire brigades, development aid etc..