The Führungsakademie has its own alumni network which helps to maintain the close personal relationships formed at this institute, even after the end of one's course and across national borders.
In cooperation with the Helmut-Schmidt-University, the Bw Command and Staff College offers its students an internationally competitive master's degree
Written by: Eggo Rettmer; Photos by: Lene Bartel
Hamburg, 27 September 2018
Major General Oliver Kohl handing over the directorate
Rear Admiral Karsten Schneider looking back on his six years at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College
Brigadier General Boris Nannt welcoming Colonel Holger Neumann
Colonel Holger Neumann with his family during the reception
“I am happy to entrust our future military leaders to you.” With these words, Major General Oliver Kohl, Commandant of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, welcomed the new Director Training and Education, Colonel (GS) Holger Neumann to his new post. As part of a hand-over ceremony, General Kohl bid farewell to the previous Director Training and Education, Rear Admiral Karsten Schneider and handed this task over to Colonel Neumann.
There is a stiff breeze in the air as Admiral Schneider reports for the last time in front of 250 attending soldiers and 100 guests from the Command and Staff College. Since 2012, he has been actively involved in shaping the training and education at the Command and Staff College. “One third of Bundeswehr staff officers who are active today have undergone basic, advanced and follow-on training under Admiral Schneider,” notes General Kohl.
For the past 60 years, the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College in Hamburg has been dedicated to preparing military top-level personnel for demanding tasks in the armed forces, in NATO, in the European Union and in the United Nations. The core task is to provide initial and continuing education and training to professionally experienced officers from Germany and abroad.
“The general/admiral staff officer insists on actions being taken. But, this also means identifying one’s own mistakes first when something goes wrong.” According to General Kohl, the general/admiral staff officer must always keep in mind the overall picture: “You have to exude an air of calm to win the soldiers’ trust and to be able to lead,” was his message in the second picture.
Since 2016, the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College has had a new, extended mission. Admiral Schneider summarized this mission as follows, “Instead of focusing on the dissemination of knowledge alone, the development of military leaders comes to the fore.” He added, “We have organized the expertise of teachers and students in a think tank (the German Institute for Defense and Strategic Studies, GIDS) for the Bundeswehr and its political leadership.”
This new mission fundamentally changes the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College. In the future, Colonel (GS) Neumann as the new Director Training and Education will shape this development together with Brigadier General Boris Nannt, Director Strategic Affairs and Faculties. “With our training and education, we share the responsibility for ensuring that our soldiers can prevail at the sharp end of our profession,” Major General Kohl emphasized.
Brigadier General Boris Nannt, Director Strategic Affairs and Faculties, has known Colonel Neumann for many years and bid him a warm welcome. “I am looking forward to working with you,” said General Nannt. “In order to advance and further develop training and education, it is crucial that the directorates are marching in step.”
Almost 20 years ago, Colonel Neumann came to know and love the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College and Hamburg. From 2001 to 2003, he completed the 46th National General/Admiral Staff Officer Course (NGASOC). “During the NGASOC, I met my wife here,” he said. Meanwhile he lives with her and their two children in Berlin, which has been their home base for a few years now.
After various assignments, inter alia in Bonn and Berlin, he led the 74 Air Wing as air wing commander in Neuburg-on-Danube. In his last assignment, Colonel Neumann served as Deputy Spokesman of the Federal Ministry of Defense in Berlin. “I can build on my manifold experiences in the force and from my political, ministerial work,” says Colonel Neumann, “and I would like to share this wealth of experience with future general/admiral staff officers.”
Written by: Christiane Rodenbücher; Photos by: Katharina Roggmann
Hamburg, 09. May 2018
Marching-in of the honor detachment
Admiral Stawitzki thanking all those working and studying at the college
The command flag being carried by soldiers of the honor detachment
The command flag being held by the new commandant
The outgoing commandant, Rear Admiral Stawitzki
Brigadier General Oliver Martin Kohl taking over the command of the BwCSC
Vice Admiral Rühle transferring the command to the new Commandant of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College
After almost two years of service at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki was given a dignified farewell ceremony: In glorious sunshine, some 400 soldiers from Germany, Europe and many partner nations, as well as civilian staff of the BwCSC, gathered at the Clausewitz barracks on 9 May 2018 to say farewell to Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki. The preceding months had been eventful and characterized by incredible commitment, with a multitude of initiatives being brought on their way. Within the process of reorganizing the BwCSC, Admiral Stawitzki has set many things in motion already.
Now, Brigadier General Oliver Kohl has taken over the command of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College from Admiral Stawitzki. About 400 military and civilian guests from the business sector, politics, science and the society were present during the change of command ceremony. The Vice Chief of Defense, Vice Admiral Joachim Rühle, transferred the command to General Kohl. This is the first change of command since the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College has been directly reporting to the Chief of Defense.
In over 60 years of Bundeswehr history and in over 25 years of the existence of the "Army of Unity", the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College has evolved into an integral and indispensable part of the German Armed Forces—a fact for which Admiral Rühle thanked both the military and civilian staff of several generations.
Then, the Admiral addressed the outgoing commandant, Rear Admiral Stawitzki. He spoke of the "long list of tasks" he has had to accomplish and mentioned the reorganization of the Field Officer Basic Course, the new concept of the General Staff Officer Course and the integration of more leadership personnel into the training activities. For instance, more than 70 top Bundeswehr leaders held briefings at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College in 2017 alone.
The list of tasks and achievements can be extended even further: The Centre of Competence for Training, Education and Leadership was established. With the cooperation agreement "Common Campus", the way was paved for a cooperation between the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, the Federal Academy of Education and Training in the Bundeswehr and the Leadership Development and Civic Education Center. This provides the foundation needed to give the BwCSC its new orientation as a think tank.
"In close cooperation with the Helmut Schmidt University, you have paved the way for a systematic knowledge management system that makes it possible to coordinate instruction activities, course theses and master theses of the newly established master's program ‘Military Leadership and International Security‘." For Admiral Rühle, this is a particularly remarkable aspect of the overall package of further development. With its new function as a think tank, the BwCSC will help to improve the Bundeswehr's strategic capability as a whole. "Now, it is important to calmly and consistently continue our course towards our goals in order to be able to face the challenges of tomorrow."
"The further development of the BwCSC is a mammoth task and what has been achieved in such a short time since the end of 2016 is much more than we could have expected," Admiral Rühle said. "Admiral Stawitzki, you have worked for the college with your whole heart and mind at all times. This deserves great appreciation. Moreover, it has not only earned you the respect of your companions and superiors but even the esteem, willing allegiance and affection of your staff—in my opinion the greatest reward a military leader and superior can receive."
For the last time as the Commandant of the BwCSC in Hamburg, Stawitzki spoke to his staff. "It is you, dear comrades, who shape the present with the best-possible training we can provide to our top-leaders. You are the most precious asset we have. You are the future of the Bundeswehr." With these words of thanks, he expressed his appreciation for his military and civilian staff. Past—Present—Future: "The Bundeswehr Command and Staff College is unique," Stawitzki said. "For more than 60 years, we have been providing excellent training and education." Subsequently, Admiral Rühle relieved the Commandant of his command over the BwCSC. Since, 1 April, Carsten Stawitzki has already been working in his new assignment as Director-General for Equipment with the Federal Ministry of Defence.
Admiral Rühle referred to Brigadier General Oliver Kohl as an excellent choice for the position of Commandant of the BwCSC. The Admiral welcomed the new Commandant: "With the knowledge and experience you have gained in your previous assignments particularly in the field of military training and education, and especially with the experience you gained during your last assignment as brigade commander and head of the working group 'Leadership Development and Civic Education Today', you are endowed with a perfect mixture of pragmatism, strategic orientation and experience both in the field of line service and ministerial work—an excellent foundation for your new assignment!" Admiral Rühle added that he considers the General to be excellently prepared for the tasks lying ahead of him. "These tasks" he said "include the extension of competence-oriented training and education to all courses and modules offered at the college, the establishment of the BwCSC as a think tank and the intensification of the college’s national and international networking efforts. Moreover, the cooperation with the Federal Academy of Education and Training in the Bundeswehr and the Leadership Development and Civic Education Center will also have to be deepened. The good results that have been achieved in the process of further developing the college's instruction activities and with regard to the teaching obligations must also be consolidated.”
With the change of command ceremony, there is now an army officer commanding Germany's highest military training institution. Brigadier General Kohl, whose last assignment was Commander Armored Infantry Brigade 41 in Neubrandenburg, is looking forward to the tasks that lie ahead of him. "I want to make my contribution to preparing our students at the BwCSC in such a manner that they will successfully master the challenges they are going to encounter as military leaders. For me, it still holds true what the third Commandant of the College and later Chief of Staff, Bundeswehr, Ulrich de Maizière, said as early as in 1964: The foundation is personal integrity, profound expertise and broad education!“
Being the alma mater of all field-grade officers, the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College lays the foundation for the profound and modern training, advanced and follow-on training of German field-grade officers in the context of lifelong learning. Be it the modules offered at the college, the Field Officer Basic Course, the General/Admiral Staff Officer Course or the Capstone Course—they all offer a platform for the professional and personal development of an officer. Particularly in the field of instruction but also in the field of planning, the staff of the BwCSC does an excellent job. In the end, all services and organizational elements of the Bundeswehr will benefit from this work and it proves that both national and international cooperation are the prerequisites for successful action.
Written by: Markus Levy; photos by: Katharina Roggmann / Torsten Kraatz / Laura Clayborn
Hamburg, 9 April 2018
Roderich Kiesewetter signing the visitors' book of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College
Johannes Kahrs elaborating on the parliamentary perspective on the field of armaments policy
Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki welcoming the guest speakers
Dietmar Nietan talking about German-Polish cooperation
NGASOC students following the presentations held by the members of the German parliament with great interest
Most members of Parliament can draw on years of experience in the political circles in Berlin, and many are active as volunteers in foundations and associations in the civil society. They believe that gaining first-hand impressions of matters on site is both the basis for developing a determined political posture and the reality-based starting point of any form of political action. As a result, it was the politicians' personal experiences that gave weight to their presentations and resulted in fascinating discussions.
As a renowned expert on both European policy and Poland, Dietmar Nietan focused on the current challenges arising from the national conservative political approach of the present Polish government. Mr. Nietan, who is also chairman of the board of management of the Deutsch-Polnische Gesellschaft Bundesverband e.V. (Federal Association of German-Polish Societies), began his presentation by elaborating on the historical and geostrategic context that is essential to understand in order to comprehend the identity and international political actions of modern Poland.
According to Mr. Nietan, Poland's view of the United States as their main ally and sole guarantor of security ahead of their European partners as well as the country's tangible skepticism regarding any advancement of European integration can be traced back to the aforementioned context. This, he argued, is the reason for "the great significance of the idea of sovereignty as a key element in the political agenda of the Law and Justice Party—an element, which is increasingly being emphasized in domestic politics, too." In spite of these developments, he clearly opposed all tendencies to abandon even the more difficult talks with the country's leadership. The developments in Poland should be accompanied by "smart" politics on different working levels "in order to be able to constructively shape the relationship between Germany and its great neighbor to the east even under changed framework conditions."
On the next day, the German MP Mr. Roderich Kiesewetter, a retired Colonel (GS) and winner of the General Heusinger Prize, evaluated the difficult framework conditions of German foreign and security policy both at present and in the future. He provided deep insight into the complex mechanisms of consensus building between the ruling coalition parties in parliament. Kiesewetter also pointed out that these increasingly complex parameters have a profound impact on parliamentary involvement in German foreign relations. In this context, he focused on Germany's role as a reliable partner in the vital alliances it is a member of. From his point of view, the coalition agreement sets the right priorities and reflects the learning process that has been going on in Germany's political landscape.
Nonetheless, struggling to agree on sustainable, moderately increasing funding for the German armed forces or on a targeted security debate is not the only current political challenge: Germany must consistently strengthen its ability to honor alliance obligations and confidently distinguish itself as a reliable partner, Mr. Kiesewetter stated. This was one of many aspects taken up by the students in the lively debate that followed. When asked what "homework" Germany's politicians will be dealing with next, Mr. Kiesewetter pointed out that the widely communicated comprehensive approach in matters of security policy should already be a part of parliamentary work. Solutions should be sought by means of cross-departmental cooperation, for example within the framework of an ongoing broad strategy debate.
Autors: Verena Hoffmann & Jonathan Scheffler; Photos: Katharina Roggmann
Hamburg, 14 March 2018
Rear Admiral Schneider opening the 13th Hamburg Discourse
A very interested audience in the completely filled Gneisenau Hall
Professor Michael Staack talking about the interdependencies between the four dimensions of the North Korea Crisis
Panel discussion with moderator Jörn Thießen
Major General (ret.) Gerber
Exchange of ideas (from left to right Jörn Thießen and Werner Sonne)
With these words, the Deputy Commandant welcomed the audience filling the auditorium of the Manfed Wörner Center to the limit. Altogether, some 300 civilian and military listeners had come to the BwCSC on that evening, showing that Germany’s population is well aware of the threat potential the North Korea Crisis represents for Germany and Europe. The welcome address was followed by a presentation by Professor Michael Staack, who clearly outlined Germany's role in this play of different interests not only between the world's major powers, i.e. the United States, Russia and China, but also between North and South Korea, the countries directly affected by the crisis. Moreover, he pointed out that Germany has first-hand experience with the division of its territory into two separate states and has thus quite something to contribute. In the subsequent panel discussion, the audience saw a lively and interesting debate among the experts and was also given the opportunity to ask questions.
As an expert of cooperative security and former member of Germany's advisory group to South Korea on the foreign policy considerations of the reunification of Korea, Staack explained the interdependencies between the four dimensions of the North Korea Crisis. He first outlined the threat North Korea's nuclear weapon potential poses to the international order, then described the not only rhetorical confrontation lines between North Korea and the United States, the hegemonic conflict between the United States and China and, last but not least, provided background information on the conflict between the two separated Koran states. He warned that putting North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un down as the unpredictable «little rocket man» would mean to underestimate him and his rational and coolly thought out security policy. "After all, this isolated country managed to acquire highly strategic knowledge and in 2013, it attracted worldwide attention as an aggressor to be reckoned with. Thanks to his ambitious nuclear program, Kim Jong Un managed to ensure the survival of his regime and prevented his country from being attacked." By pursuing his confrontation course especially vis-à-vis the United States, he has demonstrated strength not only to his own population but also to the US.
Even though both countries on the Korean Peninsula have laid down their goal of re-unification in their respective constitutions, Kim Jong Un's only interest has been to retain his power. He would agree to a reunification only under terms dictated by his regime, which would mean for South Korea to turn its back on the United States and its influence. It is obvious that this is not a viable option for South Korea. South Korean President Moon Jae In has successfully pursued a policy of détente and maintained the dialog between both states in order to uphold the possibility of a reunification. It is, however, doubtful whether the South Korean population is interested in a reunification of both Korean states. The majority of the younger generation of South Koreans rejects a reunification as they do not have any family ties to North Korea and do not want to pay for the reconstruction of a bankrupt system. In the subsequent panel discussion moderated by Jörn Thießen, head of the Faculty of Political/Strategic Studies and Social Sciences at the BwCSC, it quickly became clear that a solution to the nuclear threat scenario is much more probable than a reunification of both Koreas.
"With their capability of more precise nuclear weapons of variable destructive power, Russia and the United States are currently in a dangerous arms race that China is watching very critically," Staack told the audience. If communication with North Korea should be discontinued and if the sanctions were to be maintained, then North Korea could become a potential provider of nuclear technology. Other countries could follow its example and try to use their nuclear deterrence potential to assert political demands. In order to prevent such a scenario, Staack suggests that Germany offer its help as a diplomatic intermediary in the North Korea Crisis. Germany does not only have partnership programs and close contacts with both North and South Korea and shares with them the common experience of the separation of a country but also knows from its own historical experience that for a separated country, armed conflict is not a solution at all.
This question was answered by Lieutenant Colonel (GS) Andre Zechmeister from the Faculty of Political/Strategic Studies and Social Sciences. Holding a degree in political sciences, he already followed the development of North Korea with great interest during his studies, and for about ten years, he has been observing the country "being held hostage by the Kim family" very intensively. According to Zechmeister, North Korea has a functioning and operational arsenal of biological and chemical weapons which could be employed with the delivery systems the country possesses. However, it is not known whether North Korea has the capability to produce adequate engines for its long-range missile that might also reach America. Whether North Korea will manage to obtain such engines via other channels remains to be seen.
Written by: Philipp Lenske; photographer: Katharina Roggmann
Hamburg, 30 January 2018
State rabbi Shlomo Bistritzky signing the visitors' book of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College
Michel Friedman: "Where does the culmination of violence begin?"
The Commandant of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College giving an introduction to the topic
Colonel Prof. Dr. Matthias Rogg talking to Colonel (ret.) Stratenschulte
High-ranking guests from the academic world, the business sector and society following the fascinating exchange of ideas
Admiral Stawitzki encouraged his audience to face history in order to adjust their own compass—not just on this occasion, but on every day. In the lecture hall of the Manfred Wörner Center, which was filled to the last seat, the Commandant called upon everyone in the audience to show decency, courage and strength of character, to share thoughts about fundamental values and to determine their own personal position. With these comments, Admiral Stawitzki started the panel discussion chaired by Mr. Jörn Thießen, head of the Faculty of Political/Strategic Studies and Social Sciences. Professor Michel Friedman joined the discussion as a special guest. Colonel Prof. Dr. Matthias Rogg, head of the Think Tank Steering Group at the BwCSC, participated in the discussion as well.
"Where does the culmination of violence begin?"—this was Friedman's key question. "In order to prevent those culminations of violence from happening again, we must understand the origins of those deeds and do everything in our power to counteract similar developments." A descendant of a Polish-Jewish family, Michel Friedman has personal knowledge of the gruesome crimes committed by the Nazis. "What is the first step towards murdering other people? People doing terrible things to others is not the first step towards murder; it starts even before that—when people turn a blind eye on what is happening around them. Turning a blind eye, refusing to listen, keeping silent—that is the wrong way. We must talk openly and honestly about what has happened in the past and about what is happening right now", Friedman stated.
In his contributions, Friedman focused on the question of what general signs, what kind of human behavior or political circumstances could lead to such extreme culminations of violence. In this context, he referred to racism and homophobia, saying: "These days, I am observing a fundamental change in society's substance—spiritual arson. When will this lead to real arson?"
The former Director of the Bundeswehr Museum of Military History, Colonel Prof. Dr. Matthias Rogg, elaborated on the role of the armed forces in terms of dealing with remembrance. "If we don't know how things came about, how are we supposed to prevent similar events from happening in the future?" According to Colonel Rogg, it is very much up to ourselves to learn how to understand and to pass on what we have learned to others. To this end, a delegation of thirty Polish, French and German officers recently travelled to the former concentration camp in Auschwitz in order to develop a better understanding of the background circumstances, to engage in discussions and to be able to put what they have learned into context. For further information, see the report in "Bundeswehr aktuell" of 22 January 2018 (in German).
"Nobody must feel responsible for someone else's actions, but every one of us must take it personally if others become victims of injustice or cruelty", Friedman continued. In his opinion, all of us have the obligation to act in order to safeguard the greatest good of our democracy—the inviolability of human dignity. History will always repeat itself unless we remember it. "And yet, what are we willing to do to protect the democracy we live in?", Professor Friedman asked the 150 listeners in the rotunda of the Manfred Wörner Center. "We all depend upon each other, just like the coming generations depend upon us."
Friedman ended most of his statements with questions. These questions will remain with the participants of the event, and all of them will have to find their own answers. Because each and every one of us has the obligation to reflect and to analyze things in order to understand, to grasp knowledge and also to figure out how to improve our understanding in order to act in a better way in the future. To enable this discussion to continue, the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College has established a number of special formats of commemorative events to keep history alive—and to demonstrate how it concerns all of us in the here and now.
Autor: Jana Grigoleit; Fotos: Jana Grigoleit
Many partners of students at the BwCSC accepted the invitation to the Welcome Night"
Getting to know each other
Making new friends from all over the world
Being the highest-level training institution of the German Armed Forces, the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College (BwCSC) is special in many respects: Soldiers from altogether 120 different nations have studied at the college in the past 60 years. Currently, students of about 50 different nationalities are attending courses at the college day by day. Many of them have come to Hamburg with their families. They have not only come to a city they are unfamiliar with but also to a new country and in many cases to a new continent, too. In order to make it easier for them to arrive in their new environment and to facilitate the exchange of information that is vital particularly to newly arrived families in the Hanseatic city, three women have decided to support the process of getting to know each other. They initiated the BwCSC Welcome Night.
Frauke Lüchow, Kimberly Jordan and Captain Jana Grigoleit are wives or partners of current or former students at the BwCSC. They invited the families of officers studying on the recently started National and International General/Admiral Staff Officer Courses to come together within the scope of a welcome evening. "We've been doing this because we want to provide the newly arrived families with useful information and facilitate their start in Hamburg. Finally, they are all faced with a new language, a new housing situation, new schools for the kids and an entirely new environment," says Frauke Lüchow, who is the partner of Major Hille. The reaction to their invitation was overwhelming: 48 partners of students from twelve different nations attended the event. Even some "older" families participated in the event and shared their experiences with those that had newly arrived.
The evening started with a tour of the BwCSC. As there are many events taking place on the premises of the BwCSC, it is important to know the names and locations of the most important buildings as for instance the Henning von Tresckow Building, the Admiral von Wellershof Building or the Manfred Wörner Center. In the mess association, Frauke Lüchow then officially welcomed the families and told them about her own experiences. Since earlier this year, she has been in charge of organizing the mothers and toddlers cafe at the Graf von Baudissin Barracks. "When you have children, it is much easier to get into contact and establish social networks," she explained. Many nodded their heads showing that they had gained similar experiences. The guests gladly received brochures containing information about the MWR Office, about nearby playing-grounds, sights, doctors and many more aspects in Hamburg. At dinner, the first phone numbers were exchanged.
Kurt Tucholsky once said: "Friendship, that's like home." Considering the event under this motto, the evening was a complete success. All guests were glad they had come and they all seized the opportunity to get into contact with each other and pave the way for new bonds of friendship. "Such a network is invaluable," also confirmed Kimberly Jordan. Not only for the guests but also for the organizers, this first Welcome Night was very informative. "It is always fascinating to see how quickly friendship and mutual understanding develop among nationals from so different parts of the world here at the BwCSC," says Lüchow. The event was a great success and everyone is looking forward to more to come: And indeed, the organizers are already planning to gather the families on an afternoon in the Advent season and also to go on excursions together.
Written by: Inka v. Puttkamer; photographer: Katharina Roggmann
Hamburg, 19 November 2017
Admiral Stawitzki during his commemorative address on the occasion of the National Day of Mourning
First row, second from left: Dr. Liane Melzer, Director of the Altona District; third from left: Consul General of France in Hamburg, Laurent Toulouse
Representatives of different nations participated in the National Day of Mourning commemoration event
Die britische Band "Band of the Royal Armoured Corps"
The French Consul General Toulouse addressing the participants
German officers laying a wreath
The Italian Consul General Giorgio Taborri at the cemetery
Honorary Consul Nicholas Teller during the wreath-laying ceremony
This year, the commemorative ceremony on the occasion of the National Day of Mourning at the cemetery in Hamburg-Blankenese took place in a special setting: Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, Commandant of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College (BwCSC), had invited representatives of former German wartime enemies to join him in the wreath-laying ceremony. Representatives of the United States, Britain, France and Italy stood side by side with Germans to commemorate the dead. The idea to invite approximately 100 guests from different nations to commemorate the war dead is so far unique. Students of the international General/Admiral Staff Officer Course also attended the ceremony, which thus saw soldiers from four different continents assembled.
In stormy November weather, the ceremony began with a prayer service led by the Protestant Military Dean at the BwCSC, Dr. Hartwig von Schubert. He reminded the audience of the atrocities of the wars. After the Lord's Prayer had been recited by all present—everyone praying in their native language—, he concluded that, on this day, they all bowed their heads as both perpetrators and victims, no matter which country they came from. Then the guests gathered around the cemetery's memorial stone.
Framed by an honor formation consisting of French officers studying at the Helmut Schmidt University (Bundeswehr University, Hamburg), Admiral Stawitzki then welcomed the numerous guests. Quoting from Erich Maria Remarque's novel “Im Westen nichts Neues” (All Quiet on the Western Front), he confronted the audience directly with the everyday life of an ordinary soldier fighting in a war that took place a hundred years ago. He emphasized that people from nations whose soldiers once went out to fight each other were now standing shoulder to shoulder: "On this day, we are standing here as friends, as allies and as partners—in the knowledge that we can only deal with the global challenges of our time if we all work together."
Admiral Stawitzki reminded his audience of the truly marvelous fact that Europe is experiencing the longest ever period of peace since World War II. "Only those who confront the past may learn from it." The past obliges us to always base our actions on the norms of humanity and the rule of law and to act with an open mind and a tolerant attitude at all times, Admiral Stawitzki pointed out. "This is our responsibility—to speak out decidedly and courageously, loudly and with all our strength, if need be, whenever human dignity is affected in any way." Saying this, the Commandant of the Command and Staff College also referred to the great number of soldiers, police officers, development aid workers and volunteers from all nations who are currently on missions abroad.
The Band of the British Royal Armoured Corps had come all the way from Great Britain to provide a worthy musical background for the event. As the band played the lament "Lied vom guten Kameraden" (The Good Comrade), a solemn atmosphere resonated among the guests that was expressed by the subsequent words of commemoration. An important message of this event was that on the National Day of Mourning we commemorate not only the soldiers fallen in World Wars I and II, but also the service members who were killed in action in the course of more than 60 years of Bundeswehr history, and the victims of terror and violence. The French Consul General Laurent Toulouse spoke on behalf of the international guests of honor. In a moving speech, he expressed his gratitude from the bottom of his heart—gratitude for the fact that for the first time, representatives of the former wartime enemies had come together for a commemorative ceremony. Consul General Toulouse stated that with sound patriotism and common sense, the past not only obliges us to commemorate but, first and foremost, to shape the future. And this holds true for all peoples and all nations. At this event, the future was represented by students of the "Lycée Français de Hambourg".
Towards the end of the ceremony, the guests of honor laid wreaths to the memorial stone: For Germany, Admiral Stawitzki laid down a wreath. For Italy, a wreath was laid by Consul General Giorgio Taborri; Honorary Consul Nicholas Teller laid a wreath to express the commemorative sentiment of Great Britain, and military attaché Colonel Terry Anderson did the same on behalf of the United States. Consul General Toulouse was the last to place a wreath. The ceremony then concluded with the French lament "Aux Morts", a minute of silence and finally the hopeful European anthem.
After the ceremony, the guests returned to the BwCSC where they enjoyed a hearty pea soup and seized the opportunity to discuss the event. All agreed that it was the international framework that gave a special dignity to the entire ceremony. Dr. Liane Melzer, Director of the Altona District, addressed the guests in her capacity as a civil servant. She asked the question whether the National Day of Mourning still carried any significance as it seemed to be "far away from our day-to-day life". Her answer was a definite Yes, based on the need for international reconciliation. In view of recent conflicts within Europe, the objective of reconciliation will never lose its relevance. "Peace cannot be taken for granted"—Ms. Melzer concluded her speech by quoting Jean-Claude Juncker who, nine years ago on Remembrance Day, had called upon all eurosceptics to visit military cemeteries in order to become aware of the immeasurable suffering that a lack of international understanding had once brought about.
The 2016 National General/Admiral Staff Officer Course was chiefly responsible for the perfect organization of the commemoration ceremony. The positive response from all guests—coming from different countries, including both service members and civilians, the age span ranging from two to eighty years—clearly shows that the National Day of Mourning is not just a remnant from the past but an event observed with active remembrance at the BwCSC and at the cemetery in Blankenese. All generations do their best to live up to the aforementioned responsibility.
Autor: Inka von Puttkamer; Fotos: Laura Clayborn, Michael Gundelach
Federal Minister of Defence and Chief of the Defence Staff arriving at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College
General Volker Wieker, Federal Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen, Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki
Federal Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen during her opening statement
Participants of the workshop on the Bundeswehr Guidelines on Tradition
Professor Dr Loretana de Libero giving her introductory presentation
Lieutenant General (ret.) Ton van Loon during his presentation
At the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College (BwCSC), Federal Minister of Defence Dr Ursula von der Leyen kicked off the first of a series of workshops aimed at reviewing and rewriting the 1982 Guidelines on Tradition and the Cultivation of Tradition in the Bundeswehr. In altogether four discussion meetings, German military personnel, service members from partner nations and representatives from politics, society and the Churches will work together to develop new Guidelines on Tradition for the Bundeswehr. Subsequent meetings will be held in Koblenz, Potsdam and Berlin. "The tradition of the Bundeswehr within the contexts of a European defence identity and a transatlantic security partnership" was the overarching topic of this first workshop.
In her opening statement, Ursula von der Leyen pointed out that there are not one but two reasons why the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College is the ideal place for launching this series of workshops. For one thing, the BwCSC represents the highest standards of education employed in training our future military leaders, and this includes a close examination and an in-depth analysis of our understanding of tradition. For another, the institution can draw on a wealth of expertise and different points of view, as one glance at the many different uniforms in the audience confirmed. A good quarter of the almost 300 people listening to the minister's speech were soldiers from other countries who are taking courses at the Command and Staff College, contributing their individual expertise. The Commandant of the BwCSC, Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, said he felt honored that the College was chosen to hold this opening event. Extending a warm welcome to all participants, he expressed his hope to gain useful insights from studying the past to be able to answer questions concerning the future.
After pointing out that today the Bundeswehr is already twice as old as it was in 1982 and can therefore draw on twice as much experience, Ursula von der Leyen elaborated on the things that have changed for the German Armed Forces since the Guidelines on Tradition and the Cultivation of Tradition in the Bundeswehr were adopted 35 years ago: From a heavily mechanized force of deterrence during the Cold War, the Bundeswehr has changed into an operational army that is equally capable of contributing to collective defence and engaging in international crisis management. This also implies a change in the soldiers' self-perception, because giving one's life as the ultimate sacrifice is no longer a mere theory but has become part of operational reality. At the same time, the Bundeswehr has become more diverse due to the suspension of compulsory military service and the increase in the number of recruits from different backgrounds and of different gender. Apart from that, the minister underlined the multinational commitments of the Bundeswehr: Assuming responsibility toward our partners, NATO and the EU has become second nature to our armed forces. The minister also referred to German society in general, which has become more open but also more critical in many respects. All these developments require a reconsideration of tradition and of the ways in which we cultivate it.
"Throughout the Bundeswehr, tradition is supposed to serve as a compass that provides our soldiers with orientation, guidance, and standards for their own actions—during routine duty as well as in an operational environment. And, most importantly, in existentially extreme situations which may well arise during operations." Given these ambitious demands, the revision of the Guidelines on Tradition must not be accomplished in a hurry, Ursula von der Leyen stated. She placed particular importance on the "compatibility" of the Bundeswehr's understanding of tradition with society's views and with insights from both the past and the present. This is the reason why so many civil representatives were invited to participate in the workshops. Only if the people understand what the Bundeswehr soldiers are proud of, can they also be proud of their army.
The identity of the Bundeswehr must be reflected in its understanding of tradition. This encompasses the liberal values our soldiers swear to defend with their own lives and more: it includes the military virtues of valour, comradeship, truthfulness and care. As for identifying role models, the minister cautioned her audience against expecting clear answers. Focusing on prominent figures from German armed forces of the past, in particular, would bring historical ruptures and frictions to the fore, leaving many issues to be discussed. Any action, its purpose and its objective, must be evaluated within its historical context. "The German Wehrmacht cannot be a foundation for the Bundeswehr's military tradition," the minister stated, and went on to emphasise that, this notwithstanding, individual soldiers wearing a Wehrmacht uniform, such as Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, could very well be such a foundation. Thus, scrupulous consideration was required and would lead to a healthy understanding of tradition. Distinguishing between history and tradition in this way meant that events from the recent past could also become part of a proud Bundeswehr tradition. Ursula von der Leyen was keen to point out that the Bundeswehr indeed has a history worth telling.
Before the workshop participants began their extensive detail work in the four panels, Dr Loretana de Libero, professor and lecturer at the Command and Staff College, gave an introductory presentation on commemorative culture in the Bundeswehr, and Lieutenant General (ret.) Ton van Loon of the Royal Netherlands Army elaborated on international military cultures of remembrance. De Libero described a certain "uneasiness" among the members of the Bundeswehr when it comes to appreciating their own achievements. Naming a number of impressive examples, she demonstrated that many events and individuals can be found in the Bundeswehr's recent past which are worthy of providing the foundations for military tradition. Service members killed on operations are commemorated in the "Forest of Remembrance" in Potsdam. So some steps have been taken towards a cultivation of tradition originating in the missions of the Bundeswehr. In conclusion, the professor said that from her point of view, the Bundeswehr as a "best ager" has not yet realized what an inspiring repertoire it has to offer. Gen. van Loon followed up on the minister's words saying that tradition is part of the esprit de corps that is necessary to be able to fight and to give something meaningful to a soldier when embarking on a mission. Moreover, tradition provides a sense of community—between companies as much as within multinational units. Referring to the introduction of compulsory military service for women in the Netherlands in 2017, he stated that tradition is also something dynamic. Thus coming back to the objective of reviewing the Guidelines on Tradition in the Bundeswehr, Gen. van Loon put it in a nutshell: "Progress is not a pretext for not changing things, it is the courage to change things."
Autor: FüAkBw; Fotos: Bundeswehr
State-of-the-art training rooms: Jeff LaMoe, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, is giving Rear Admiral Stawitzki a tour of the Lewis & Clark Center in Fort Leavenworth
Symbol of a long-standing affiliation between two countries: A statue of Frederick the Great in the Carlisle Barracks, seat of the Army War College
Transatlantic friendship: In the German Army liaison staff conference room in Leavenworth, Rear Adm. Stawitzki receives a gift from Maj. Gen. Kem—a chronicle of the Leavenworth military installation
Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, Commandant of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, pays inaugural visit to US partner institutions
All of a sudden, Germany seems to be much closer than the long flight across the Atlantic would suggest: In the Lewis & Clark Center in Fort Leavenworth, Rear Adm. Carsten Stawitzki, Commandant of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College (BwCSC), "runs into" his superior, the acting Chief of the Defence Staff, General Volker Wieker.
The general's picture hangs on the Wall of Fame of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC), right next to the portrait of Lt. General Jörg Vollmer, Chief of the German Army. Both of them completed the Command and General Staff Officers Course of the US Army in Fort Leavenworth after having studied at the BwCSC—as did numerous high-ranking military decision-makers from all over the world and 27 heads of government, four of whom are still in office. The CGSC is one of the top institutions in the field of professional military education and for more than 50 years has been a cooperation partner for the BwCSC. Reason enough for Rear Adm. Stawitzki to take advantage of the first week of college holidays to pay an overseas visit: "During the busy months that followed the German Minister of Defense's presentation of her vision for the future of our Command and Staff College on 3 November, we set the course for the upcoming development of the BwCSC. Now I think it's important to demonstrate our commitment to our partners abroad." Rear Adm. Stawitzki's schedule for his visit to Fort Leavenworth included a conversation with Maj. Gen. John S. Kem, Provost of the Army University and Deputy Commandant of the CGSC, a meeting with teaching staff and representatives of the Army University Press and, of course, talks with German CGSC students and permanent personnel.
A busy schedule indeed. And that goes for the rest of the week, too: Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, was actually the fourth stop on his trip to the United States. During the three days before, the Commandant of the BwCSC had already visited the National Defense University (NDU) in Washington D.C., the Army War College in Carlisle, and the Naval War College in Newport where met with his respective counterparts. Leaving Leavenworth, he then moved on to the USAF's Air University in Montgomery, Alabama. Rear Adm. Stawitzki summarizes: "In many respects, the education and training of top-level military personnel in the U.S. is different from what we do at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College. In other areas, however, we have a lot in common. I particularly wanted to gain a comprehensive impression of how our partner across the Atlantic prepares the members of its military leadership elite for their challenging future responsibilities. This is why I wanted to visit the training institutions of all services." Against the backdrop of the minister's assignment to further develop the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College into a strategic think tank, Admiral Stawitzki's main focus was on the question of how the U.S. military trains strategists and how it contributes to the country's strategic capabilities by means of research projects and scientific publications. "I am learning a great deal with regard to the areas of strategic capability and networking with many different experts, and also in terms of methods, such as war gaming at the highest level." What initially had been planned as a series of inaugural visits to the US partner institutions by Adm. Stawitzki now—in view of the ongoing further development of the Command and Staff College—turned out to be an inspiring exchange of ideas for the Commandant who was appointed only in September 2016. "Of course we cannot simply copy models that work well in the U.S. and transfer them directly to our institution. This notwithstanding, the NDU and the war colleges have excellent programs in place. I thoroughly enjoyed the open exchange of ideas that took place at the command level as well as in my conversations with faculty personnel. Talking to German students at all five institutions completed the picture for me. One thing is obvious: We can learn a great deal from one another. And my trip confirmed what is most important to me: Our transatlantic partnership and the ties that bind us together 'across the pond' remain as strong as ever."
After six days in the U.S., Rear Adm. Stawitzki is now back in Hamburg. Most of the college staff are away on their well-deserved summer holiday. The Commandant and his team, however, are already starting to plan the next official visit: In the fourth quarter of 2017, the Commandant intends to visit the defense academies of the partners involved in the Combined Joint European Exercise.
Autor: Frank Magnus ; Fotos: Katharina Junge
Guest lectures can be fun to listen to
Shaping the future together—student engaged in a discussion with the Chief of the Army
General Vollmer reporting on current developments in the German Armyr
Lieutenant General Jörg Vollmer, Chief of the German Army, regularly visits "his" Army soldiers at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College and enjoys very much to do so. During his latest visit, he was particularly interested in obtaining information about the further development of the Command and Staff College as directed by the Minister of Defense, Dr. Ursula von der Leyen, in her guiding speech on 3 November 2016 (click here for a transcript of the minister's speech)). Lt. General Vollmer especially wanted to gain insight into the current developments regarding the establishment of a think tank, competence-oriented education and the revision of the course concepts. Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, Commandant of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, had an extensive conversation with the Chief of the Army, during which he covered all developments that took place during the past months as well as those planned for the near future.
In cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute, the Army Branch has developed an innovative tool: the Digital Map Table. It enables soldiers to conduct operational planning in a multidimensional approach on a digital map that is equipped with a vast quantity of information. Operators can retrieve all the data available in the Bundeswehr and use them to arrive at a comprehensive assessment of the situation. "The map table provides us with unprecedented possibilities to process and assemble information in a very compact manner. I am thrilled and delighted that this tool is being used here at the highest-level training institution of the Bundeswehr," Vollmer summarized his impressions.
General Vollmer concluded the busy program of his day at the Command and Staff College by giving a presentation on the current situation of the German Army. He explained: "All things considered, the security situation has deteriorated. The Army's tasks include the entire range of both ongoing operations—from Afghanistan to Africa—and standby commitments such as those in the Baltic region." According to the Chief of the Army, national and alliance defense and stabilization operations must be accorded equal importance and performed at the same time. As a result, this means that our personnel must be perfectly trained at all levels, not only in a variety of different operations, but also down to the last detail involved in their tasks. Moreover, our soldiers must be supplied with sufficient and mission-ready equipment. Vollmer left no doubt about the fact that this is a Herculean task, yet also emphasized that the trend reversals initiated by the Federal Ministry of Defense have already created some leeway for the Army.
Trend reversals have been launched in the areas of personnel, equipment and financing. In this context, the increasing multinationalization offers additional courses of action. With his closing remarks, General Vollmer proved that he has the necessary enthusiasm to tackle all the aforementioned challenges: "I take great pleasure in doing my job. However, I can't do it all by myself; I need your help and support. So, please get involved and contribute your ideas so that together we may shape the future of the German Army."
Autor: Inka von Puttkamer ; Fotos: Katharina Junge
General Wieker: "Security has its cost''"
Admiral Carsten Stawitzki during his opening remarks
Two high-ranking officers ready for action
General Volker Wieker, Chief of the German Defense Staff, had come to the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College to hold a lecture to Germany's future general/admiral staff officers and to exchange views and have personal talks with them. Speaking in front of the participants of the Field Officer Basic Course (FOBC) and the "Fundamentals of Operational Command and Control and Planning" Seminar, the German Armed Forces' highest-ranking soldier encouraged the officers to be "frank and open". Over the years, his annual visits to the FOBC have become a good tradition and although it is a "challenge to reach everyone in the Bundeswehr with the messages we consider so important", he enjoys these visits very much.
In these eventful times, General Wieker places particular importance on personal talks. And the young officers, who have just embarked upon their path as career personnel, take him at his word. They ask questions that are personal, controversial and provocative and deal with everything currently discussed in the Bundeswehr: the high level of operational stress, current discussions in the media about the troops, questions regarding issues such as personnel, materiel and budget but also questions about internal communication and procurement projects.
General Wieker answers candidly, and he encounters great open-mindedness and honesty on the side of the students—for instance from a company commander from Donauwörth who shares her personal experiences with him and the other students. This requires trust, and indeed, there is trust on both sides. The general's answers clearly show how he defines his role as a mediator between the soldiers and the political leadership at the Federal Ministry of Defense. "Our common aim is always in the foreground", the general says.
He underlines the positive developments of the last legislative period and in this context mentions not only the significant budget increase and the raise in the number of personnel but also effective advertisement measures and Germany's participation in the set-up of NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force. This leads him on to the security situation Germany is facing currently. "Security has its cost", he explains and after listing a variety of examples reaching from the Crimea Crisis to the stationing of NATO troops in the Baltic states, he explains that Germany is considered a reliable and responsible partner in Europe. The international community has expectations with regard to Germany as a middle power. National and alliance defense have come into focus again, General Wieker explains and also points to the presentation of the results of the National General/Admiral Staff Officer Course on the topic "Defining National and Alliance Defense Anew".
At the end, the students ask the general what central message they should take home from the FOBC. With a view to the course's new format which is competence-oriented training without a final examination, his answer is that the restructured course is aimed at taking advantage of the overall personality of each student and at unfolding his or her talents (click here for more information on competence-oriented training). There is no doubt that there is currently a great need for talks between all hierarchic levels of the Bundeswehr. According to General Wieker, it "takes time for the new developments to take effect" and he stresses that "all personnel working in the Bundeswehr must travel this road together to be successful." Despite his very busy schedule, the topic of communication is on top of his priority list. He states: "I'd rather stick to speaking with each other than talk about each other." Given this motto, the next FOBC can also look forward to hearing honest and unfiltered words of its highest-ranking superior in the late summer months.