Germany takes over the “spearhead” of NATO. But instead of modern Puma armored personnel carriers, the Bundeswehr is driving up with the aging Marder. Defense Minister Lambrecht’s damage report is still a long time coming. After all, the sustainability report of the troops is now available.
Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) rushes from shame to shame: Total failure of 18 Puma armored personnel carriers during an exercise in the Lüneburg Heath, empty ammunition depots in many places and problems with the procurement of the F-35. One could assume that the SPD politician is now showing leadership and showing the Bundeswehr the way out of the crisis. Freely adapted from Churchill: “Never let a good crisis go to waste”.
But the SPD politician’s crisis management has so far extended to a rather bizarre Instagram video at the turn of the year. While in the background New Year’s rockets rise into the night sky over Berlin and firecrackers pop, the 57-year-old wishes everyone a happy new year.
It was precisely at this time that Germany took over the leadership of the NATO Rapid Reaction Force (VJTF). The Bundeswehr provides around 8,000 men and women for a total of around 11,500 soldiers. This must be ready in 48 to 72 hours to be moved to wherever the alliance needs it. This “spearhead” is an essential part of deterrence and defense in Europe.
The Puma armored personnel carriers should also be a not insignificant part of the rapid reaction force. But after the numerous technical defects in the firing practice in December, Lambrecht announced that the German soldiers would be equipped with the older Marder and not with the Puma as planned as a combat vehicle.
The tracked vehicle, which was plagued by numerous technical problems, was only declared fit for combat in 2021. The armaments companies Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) announced shortly before Christmas that they intend to repair the defective armored personnel carriers by mid-January at the latest.
According to the “Handelsblatt”, 17 defective tanks have already been repaired. Apparently it was only minor damage that could be repaired without much effort. According to the report, operator errors also occurred during the exercise. For example, a soldier tried to extinguish smoldering cables with a powder extinguisher, which then caused further damage.
The defense minister actually wanted to submit a damage report by the end of December. But the analysis is still a long time coming. Much to the annoyance of the Union. “The holder of the authority to command and command seems more important than finally clearing up and tidying up his own Christmas vacation,” said the defense policy spokesman for the Union faction in the Bundestag, Florian Hahn (CSU), the “world”.
“If you are wondering about current deficiencies in the Bundeswehr, you can say: the fish stinks from the head.” The minister broke her own promise to create transparency as soon as possible. Hahn asked the ministry for the current status and the results of the announced comprehensive assessment of the situation – without an answer, as he says.
Instead of the status report, the Ministry of Defense presented the 68-page Sustainability Report 2022 on December 29th. An important topic, no doubt. The minister thinks so too. Lambrecht can be quoted as follows: “Sustainable action also strengthens our freedom of action. Solar roofs and geothermal energy in our properties not only protect our livelihoods, but also our sovereignty.”
According to the report, by the end of 2024, all the demand for Bundeswehr properties drawn from the power grid should be covered 100 percent with green electricity. The troops are also celebrating progress in the field of mobility in the form of more than 569 commercially available electric vehicles. The charging infrastructure will be further expanded for them: “In addition to the existing 340 charging points for electric vehicles, another 2,700 are to be installed by 2025,” it says.
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The reader of the report also learns that the annual per capita consumption of paper was reduced to 1,240 pages (2017: 1,694), which still sounds like paperwork. In addition, the Bundeswehr now has eight woodchip heating systems, 42 heat pumps and six service bicycles at the ministry’s Berlin headquarters. The stock on the Hardthöhe in Bonn recently included six mountain bikes, six trekking bikes and four pedelecs.
Good to know – and a good thing too. But the Department of Defense is not the Department of Climate or the Environment. Despite all the sympathy for this topic, the Bundeswehr’s most urgent competence should not lie in the reduction of CO2 emissions, but in the defense of the country and the alliance, especially in such turbulent times. In the best-case scenario, Germany is treading water here.