The new Secretary of Defense must take the first important steps in office within 48 hours. In doing so, he is dependent on the generals who call the shots in the Bundeswehr. How loyal is the squad to the fourth boss in five years.

He will be sworn in on Thursday morning and then it’s straight to work: Boris Pistorius (SPD), the new defense minister, doesn’t have time to familiarize himself with the position.

The man from Lower Saxony has to get to it immediately. In such a case, soldiers and car mechanics talk about “cold start capability”. Pistorius will meet his US colleague Lloyd Austin in the morning. On Friday he has to be seen at the meeting of Ukraine supporters in Ramstein.

His stance on the delivery of German main battle tanks to Ukraine should have been firm by then. And the cold start is likely to turn into a false start if loyal advisors don’t help the new boss on his first steps in office.

It has been an open secret in political Berlin in recent weeks that Pistorius’ predecessor Christine Lambrecht could not count on such advisors directly.

A commentator for the “Wirtschaftswoche” named names such as that of State Secretary Benedikt Zimmer, Inspector General of the Bundeswehr Eberhard Zorn or Head of the Equipment Department, Vice Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, who now have to show their support to Pistorius. They are powerful because their experience and expertise are needed. However, those familiar with the ministry questioned how far Lambrecht could count on them or prevail against them.

For Zimmer, Pistorius is already the fourth superior in his career as State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Defense, which has not yet lasted five years.

The 63-year-old from Lower Saxony was previously head of the core “Equipment” department and called himself National Armaments Director, he knows foreign missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan and plays a key role in the current procurement program of the Bundeswehr.

This has picked up speed, in particular due to the special fund of 100 billion euros, but the pressure has increased enormously as a result. In the neighboring Ministry of Finance, Zimmer was always perceived as the more competent in this matter.

Letters that Lambrecht had written to Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) on this matter were answered to Zimmer as the addressee, which showed not least where Lindner saw his real interlocutors.

Zimmer’s successor in the department head position is Stawitzki. Born in Heidelberg, he knows the political business from the bottom up. The 56-year-old has already served as an adjutant to the defense ministers Franz Josef Jung, Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg and Thomas de Maizière. He was also in Afghanistan.

The vice admiral organizes everything that soldiers need: from “ballistic underwear” and functional socks to combat vehicles. “I’m an impatient person per se and I wish things would happen faster,” he says, knowing that it takes far too long for viewers and those affected to obtain it. “But fighting power is not commercially available and only rarely available on the market,” he now has to explain to his new boss Pistorius.

Another long-serving warhorse and officer who started his career in the Cold War against the Soviet Union is 62-year-old Army General and Inspector General of the German Armed Forces Zorn.

He is one of the people who made Stawitzki and Zimmer understand the urgency of their task: “It is important that further improvements quickly reach the troops. Key word: personal gear.”

Again and again he appeals to “tighten processes and reduce bureaucratic hurdles”. “We need fully equipped and fully trained large units again, which we can transfer to the front without a long preparation period. They have to be able to start cold,” he explained to Lambrecht, and he will now address this appeal to Pistorius as well.

Which brings up the topic of “cold start capability” again. Another Lower Saxon once demonstrated this quality impressively as a soldier: Paul von Hindenburg was living in Hanover as a pensioner when, on August 22, 1914, he was called upon to lead the Eighth German Army, which was under pressure from Russia.

A day later he steamed east, fought the battle of Tannenberg as commander-in-chief and won. However, the story took a fateful turn. And even if Pistorius hopefully doesn’t have a real battle ahead of him, he has important political battles to fight with his people.

The article “Pistorius must now win these powerful men over to his side” comes from WirtschaftsKurier.