More and more glitches are coming to light about the Puma debacle. Criticism of Defense Minister Christiane Lambrecht (SPD) is growing. “In war we can’t afford dilettantes at the head of the Bundeswehr,” commented an ex-colonel to FOCUS online.
The breakdown reports from the Ministry of Defense do not stop. The latest bad news: Just one day after all 18 Puma infantry fighting vehicles failed during a military exercise in Munster, the budget and defense committees of the Bundestag followed a recommendation from Defense Minister Christiane Lambrecht (SPD) to provide 850 million euros for retrofitting 143 vehicles . And this despite the fact that the Federal Court of Auditors had already recommended on September 2 that contract negotiations be broken off because the system was not technically mature enough.
The “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” reported on this on Tuesday. The deputies had only learned belatedly of the ongoing disruption and repair problems of the Puma in connection with the 18 failures through a report from the “Spiegel”.
According to a Bundeswehr weapons expert and former colonel, who has detailed insights into the overall structure of the Bundeswehr, the main responsibility for the ongoing misery lies with the Federal Defense Minister.
“In the war we can’t afford amateurs at the top,” said the high-ranking ex-officer to FOCUS online. The former soldier would like to remain anonymous “because I’m not officially allowed to say anything negative about my old employer. I could be held accountable for that and my pension entitlements could be cut.”
The controversial minister’s lack of detailed knowledge of military matters is not at all the central problem, the ex-officer told FOCUS online. The expert would also “not give too much weight” to the complaints of the Federal Audit Office, since the authority lacked the detailed knowledge for a solid insight. In fact, she didn’t manage to surround herself with a highly effective team of experts. “Lambrecht’s behavior shows that even a year after taking office, she still lacks the skills to organize complex management like that required by the Bundeswehr. You can see in her that she is not up to the leadership.”
The weapons expert considers the accusation that Parliament may have deliberately not been informed immediately before the crucial meeting of the Defense and Budget Committee by Lambrecht’s ministry to be “unlikely”. “There was probably not enough time through official channels to inform the Minister of Defense in good time before the committee meeting after the breakdown. But in an unofficial way, something like this usually works very quickly within the Bundeswehr.”
The problem lies in the interaction of the top positions in the defense apparatus, which also include the inspector general of the Bundeswehr and the state secretary. “The chief duty of the inspector general is to brief the minister daily wherever something important is not working in the army, air force or navy. By doing nothing, Lambrecht has ensured that she is not informed as promptly as her job requires.”
Because the Federal Minister of Defense is responsible for filling these high-ranking positions. “The minister has placed her general inspector Eberhard Zorn and state secretary Benedikt Zimmer on two men who can talk well, but are just elegant, quiet participants who cannot endanger the minister herself by making too many demands of their own. As a rule, such minds are not problem solvers,” says the expert. This assessment was also shared by high-ranking colleagues in the active squad at important control points.
Lambrecht’s weakness in leadership also applies to the use of the 100 billion euros that Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) announced for the “turning point” just four days after the start of Putin’s war of aggression and then pushed it through in parliament, according to the ex-colonel .
On the one hand, war material urgently needed by Ukraine in the fight against Putin’s war of aggression, which violates international law, would be handed over from Bundeswehr stocks, but the gaps that had arisen would not be closed with the same urgency. “Instead of concentrating on the necessities that arose from the changed security situation caused by Putin’s war, Lambrecht’s ministry focuses far too much on deficits that have grown over time. And a country like Germany shouldn’t afford to do that at a moment when the danger of NATO being drawn into the war is increasing,” he says.