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: 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.
Author: Christiane Rodenbücher; Photos: Katharina Junge
Hamburg, 09 June 2017
Brigadier General Thomas Hambach during his farewell speech
Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Carsten Stawitzki with Brigadier General Hambach, outgoing Director of Academic Programs, and Jörn Thießen, his interim successor
Musicians from the Naval Band Kiel provided an adequate musical setting
Brigadier General Hambach and his wife during the reception
Invited guests in the rotunda during the farewell ceremony
Jörn Thießen, interim Director of Academic Programs
"Demanding and challenging"— this is how Brigadier General Thomas Hambach describes the past years. Three years ago, he was assigned the position of Director of Academic Programs at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College. "To be allowed to think about what we should teach our future field-grade officers and general/admiral staff officers given the fact that we cannot foresee future developments and to think about how we can teach all this in the best possible way"—for General Hambach, this has always been a very enriching experience. He is sad to leave Hamburg but he is also looking forward to his new assignment as Deputy Commander, Bundeswehr Logistics Command in Erfurt. For the time being, the acting Director of Academic Programs is Jörn Thießen, Head of the Political and Social Sciences Department.
During a solemn ceremony, the Commandant of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, thanked General Hambach for his great commitment and meaningful contributions to the training institution emphasizing his personal and sensitive approach to all subject matters. With high-ranking guest from politics, the economy and the society but also from different fields of the armed forces, altogether 150 people participated in the farewell ceremony.
In his speech, the general quoted Confucius to express the pleasure he felt every day of his assignment at the college: "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." He emphasized that he felt this pleasure only because of the professional support from all soldiers and staff members thanking them with the words: "I wasn't given the choice but it is essentially thanks to you all that I felt so much pleasure and gratitude in serving at this college."
Aside from imparting pure theory and practice, General Hambach always considered it important to create an added value for the students during their training and education at the BwCSC. In our modern, often very challenging and volatile time, it has been his major concern to share his personal experiences with his students so that our leaders of tomorrow are well prepared for the future.
Using the three words "ability", "willingness" and "permission," he made clear what kind of added value the training and education at the BwCSC is to create for the students: "Ability" stands for the military leaders' capability to act in any given situation. "Willingness" stands for the leaders' willingness to act and for their will to constantly develop their personality. The aspect of "permission" complements the other two aspects: Only if we manage to constantly provide an adequate framework here at the college, our officers can put their personal understanding of command and control to the test.
Within the scope of training and education, committing errors is quite a natural thing, General Hambach explained adding that the BwCSC is "the perfect place for such an experience." With this principle, the general complemented his description of the BwCSC's training objective to the shaping of which he contributed so much during his assignment as Director of Academic Programs. He also touched an aspect that still is of great importance to him and that from his point of view, puts the demands made particularly on general/admiral staff officers in a nutshell: How can we convey leadership skills that represent our unique concept of Leadership Development and Civic Education, in German known as "Innere Führung"?
"To express one's own intent in such a fashion that there is still leeway for the necessary creativity and imagination" is a challenge General Hambach has known very well and he has always strived to convey this aspect to the students at the BwCSC. "Delegating responsibility but also taking on responsibility. Trusting others but also earning the trust of others. Both aspects represent two sides of the same coin." During his speech, the general did not only look back to the past but also focused on the current tasks and challenges the college is facing. In this context, he mentioned particularly challenging and volatile conditions and reminded the audience of the fact that change always takes time.
"Carrying out the assignment as Director of Academic Programs was sometimes more and sometimes less easy. Leaving the job, however, is quite hard for me," the general explained. "[T]hat I enjoyed my time at the college as I did is essentially due to the staff of the college, the heads of department, the lecturers and the many reservists. I am very grateful for how I was received at this college and for the openness and particularly for the trust, criticism and advice I was given and for everyone's commitment and abundance of ideas.“
In his words to General Hambach, Admiral Stawitzki pointed out that during the general's time at the BwCSC, 200,000 classes were given by 100 lecturers and more than 500 guest lecturers to soldiers from more than 100 nations. The admiral continued: "Let me express my sincere gratitude for your work and commitment and for the fact that you have carried out this challenging assignment with all your heart and mind and with a great deal of sensitivity." The commandant appreciated the general's "set of skills and tools," his elaborate methods, his critical stance and his constructive cooperation. "You have initiated and promoted all this—thank you very much for your efforts." Musicians from the Naval Band Kiel headed by Commander Szepanski provided a worthy setting for the farewell ceremony. They played pieces in minor and major keys emphasizing both the melancholy aspects of saying farewell and the cheerful moments of the past years but also reflecting the joyful anticipation of the new assignment.
Author: Jürgen Bredtmann ; Photos: Michael Gundelach/Laura Clayborn
Hamburg, 31 May 2017
Music band "Cause of Action"
Dr. Maren Tomforde organized the project
Confident of the strengths and talents of "his" men and women: Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Carsten Stawitzki
Photographer Katharina Junge developed the concept for the exhibition and photos
Active involvement of the audience in the improv play
Dr. Petra Köppel "open our minds to unfamiliar things"
Questionnaires for self-evaluation
The photos will be shown as a touring exhibition at other places, too.
Even the music was full of diversity. Playing unplugged with two guitars, one keyboard, one cajón and three vocalists, the band “Cause of Action” took the audience through a colorful Diversity Day at the BwCSC in Hamburg. The Bundeswehr has supported the Diversity Charter since 2012, and this time a photo exhibition was the central event.
"Through this photo exhibition we want to show the diversity of the personnel serving in Hamburg’s Bundeswehr agencies," said BwCSC's photographer Katharina Junge, explaining the concept behind the project "Diversity in Uniform". 70 military or civilian staff members from Hamburg's Bundeswehr agencies volunteered as models for this exhibition. They were portrayed in their uniforms or workwear and in their casual or hobby outfit with a third photo showing an object each person considers to be important in his or her life.
The photos are complemented by interviews concerning the person's private and professional identity— with quotations from these interviews supplementing the fascinating full body portraits. Who is actually the person behind this uniform or workwear? "In our busy daily working routine, we often perceive people in their official functions only. The individuals behind these functions and all their interests, abilities and all their potential often remain hidden," said Dr. Maren Tomforde, who works as a lecturer at the BwCSC and had taken the lead responsibility in organizing the Bundeswehr's Diversity Day in Hamburg.
The Commandant of the BwCSC, Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Carsten Stawitzki, had previously opened the central event of the day in the Gneisenau Hall of the Manfred Wörner Center at the Clausewitz Barracks. "If you look at my family name, you may recognize that my ancestors came from East Prussia. This is a fact that caused me quite some trouble when I was looking for an apartment in 1992," said the Commandant with a view to his manifold experience with prejudices. "Forming efficient teams that are able to solve tasks jointly and that sometimes need to be more homogenous and sometimes more heterogeneous—this is our leadership task, be it at the operating table, in a small combat group or during a meeting," the admiral continued. The working atmosphere was the essential aspect that decided whether a person stayed at a workplace or quit the job.
The BwCSC organized the fifth national Diversity Day in Hamburg in close cooperation with the city's other Bundeswehr agencies. From 9.30 a.m., about 250 representatives from the Bundeswehr hospital, the Helmut Schmidt University, the Land Command and the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College gathered at the Clausewitz Barack for a meeting. "With a view to the seven dimensions of diversity—ethnic background, nationality, sexual orientation, individual abilities, religion and world view, age, gender and social background—the diversity at these agencies is quite impressive. It brings many challenges but also numerous opportunities because we human beings are able to reflect over matters," the admiral said.
Keynote speaker Dr. Petra Köppel from consulting firm Synergy Consult pointed out how valuable diversity is for the Bundeswehr. "Diversity is not always visible. The first impression often causes us to make judgements about the whole person," she warned. Experience, values and attitudes are something you don't see at first sight. "Diversity can only bring to bear its advantages and contribute to more job satisfaction and better task management if there is mutual respect."
"Diversity is a management task and it starts at the top," the consultant said. She explained that in our complex world, it is absolutely necessary to have categories - but that these might distort things or lead us to be guided by patterns. It is therefore important to differentiate between describing and judging a person and therefore to question one's first impression and allow for criticism. "Aspects such as questioning oneself, changing one's patterns of thinking and leaving one's comfort zone are a prerequisite for dealing with uncertainty, for allowing for unfamiliar things and for being curious and able to change oneself," Dr. Köppel emphasized. It's all about using potential—the potential of all personnel.
In the afternoon, three workshops were conducted focusing on diversity management on an equal-opportunity basis as a leadership task, on diversity practice in the Bundeswehr and on related experiences and challenges with regard to the compatibility of family and service. Parallel to the workshops, the Kaleidoskop theater group from Hamburg Altona performed the improv play "Diversity" with active audience involvement. The actors asked the audience questions on diversity in general and then acted out the answers. The result was a lot of laughter from the audience: "We recognized ourselves pretty well in the play."
Good communication, clear requirements and the confidence to be allowed to open up oneself are essential prerequisites for the success of initiatives such as diversity-related panels and bodies, the diversity symposium, questionnaires for personnel, the academic postgraduate master program "Leading Diversity", the dialog of cultures or the one-week seminar on diversity and the 2018 Diversity Day.
At the end, the commandant summarized this most informative day very positively: "What impressed me most was the good atmosphere that prevailed during the entire day. The keynote speech held by Dr. Petra Köppel, the surprise performance of the BwCSC band, the workshops that provided so many valuable ideas and impulses and of course the photo exhibition. It was this mixture of events that made the whole day fabulous."
Author: Stefan Berger; Photos: Katharina Junge
Hamburg, 17 May 2017
Admiral Stawitzki welcoming Admiral Trojahn to the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College
Signing the College's guest book
Talks among admirals
Visit of Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Frank Trojahn, Chief of Naval Staff of the Royal Danish Navy to the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College
With officers from all over the world studying at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, the campus brims with colorful and varied uniforms. In an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding, personal contacts easily develop and networks are quickly established. It is no surprise then, when former students return to the college as visitors. One such visitor was welcomed at the BwCSC on 11 May 2017. Twenty years after the beginning of his two-year training on the 1997 National General/Admiral Staff Officer Course, former student Frank Trojahn—meanwhile a rear admiral (upper half)—returned to the college for a short visit.
After talks with the Commandant of the BwCSC, Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Carsten Stawitzki, and the Director of Academic Management, Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Karsten Schneider, Admiral Trojahn gladly seized the opportunity to take a walk through the Clausewitz Barracks. In the Navy Branch, the Admiral encountered a former fellow student of the 39th Admiral Staff Officer Course and both enjoyed their memories of the good old days. "Much of what I see today is new, but there are also several things that are still familiar to me. It feels like coming home. The new modern auditoriums and the Manfred Wörner Center are quite impressive. Most enjoyable, however, is the pleasant atmosphere on campus," Admiral Trojahn said in talks with the Head of the Navy Branch and Representative of the Chief of the German Navy at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, Captain Straus.
During his walk through the barrack, the Danish Chief of Naval Staff was accompanied by a Danish student from the 2015 National General/Admiral Staff Officer Course. Lieutenant Commander Nicolai Svane informed his superior in detail about his experiences with the college's current training approach, which today, not only focuses on military topics but also on social or economic issues.
"For Denmark, Germany is an important strategic partner in the region," said Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Trojahn at the end of his visit. "We will gladly continue our cooperation with this remarkable training institution and seize the training opportunities it offers.“ Indeed, another Danish naval field-grade officer will study on the next National General/Admiral Staff Officer Course. So maybe, he too, will visit the college as an admiral one day.
Auteur : Maximilian Voß; photos: Michael Gundelach, Laura Clayborn
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Today, the Commandant of the Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr, Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, and the BWI IT regions manager, Dr. Adrian Overberg, signed a concept on the further development of the IT landscape at the Führungsakademie in Hamburg. This concept covers many aspects: First of all, it includes the results of a report on all IT systems currently used at the institution. Furthermore, it describes specific solutions tailored to the needs of the Führungsakademie and lays out the path towards possible adaptations of the BWI IT services. As Stawitzki puts it: "Now we are gathering at the starting line to embark on this journey together." The signing of the concept symbolizes the kick-off for the next stage of the project. Based on this document, the next step is to get down to detailed planning: How can our partners achieve their goals? How can they continue to adapt the capabilities required by the Führungsakademie to the challenges of the future?
During her visit to the Führungsakademie in November, the Federal Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen, stated: "I want the Führungsakademie to evolve further." She added: "Among other things, good teaching is a question of technology." For this reason, the Führungsakademie should be the avant-garde of the Bundeswehr in terms of digitalization, e-learning and correspondence courses. "And if there are any obstacles in terms of technical or structural infrastructure, well, they are there to be overcome," the Minister demanded. Even before that, the German Joint Support Service Headquarters had initiated a further development program for the IT landscape at the Führungsakademie, triggering the local IT team to prepare a concept for a sustainable solution.
At present, the Führungsakademie with its own individual IT landscape enjoys a special status among the German armed forces. Within the Bundeswehr, the institution is an "IT island" that is not yet fully serviced by the Bundeswehr Information Technology (BWI) network, the Bundeswehr's central IT service provider. Due to its special status as an international military teaching institution, the Führungsakademie so far has been operating an independent IT network. The entire IT equipment is managed by highly qualified IT personnel. These IT experts are also responsible for user support and for managing the IT services for the whole facility. In due course, additional IT services from the HERKULES project providing the entire office communication for the Bundeswehr are to be used at the Führungsakademie. To this end, in cooperation with the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support and with the BWI IT, the local IT experts have conducted a comprehensive inventory of the existing IT systems.
Moreover, with the Interoperable Cloud Computing (IOCC) study, the BWI has been tasked to evaluate the possibilities arising from cloud computing with regard to potential applications in the armed forces. IOCC would allow military and civilian employees to access and work with data and programs from any location. The further development of the IT landscape at the Führungsakademie provides a good opportunity to try out the use of cloud computing in this environment. This way, the Führungsakademie could become a cloud computing pioneer in the German armed forces and maybe also an example for other Bundeswehr agencies, able to provide them with advice and support in similar projects together with the BWI IT. Before that, however, the necessary technical, economic and organizational prerequisites must be created.
The jointly prepared concept takes into account the particular conditions required by the teaching activities conducted at the Führungsakademie and aims at preparing the entire IT landscape for the challenges of the future. Networking is a key aspect in this context – networking beyond national borders with other armed forces and allies. "Certain things at the Führungsakademie are simply different. Training senior national and international officers makes special demands on us that cannot be compared with other Bundeswehr schools and training institutions," Stawitzki explained. "Therefore, we must identify what exactly the IT user needs."
The aim pursued by further developing the IT landscape at the Führungsakademie is to provide all its members with IT services such as telephones, computers and servers in accordance with their missions and requirements. The provided equipment is to be up-to-date and sufficiently high-performing to comply with the requirements derived from the IT strategy of the Federal Ministry of Defence and its agenda "The Bundeswehr Leads the Way – An Active, Attractive Alternative".
At the same time, a risk management system is to be implemented to a necessary degree in order to guarantee IT security without sacrificing flexibility with regard to the provision of IT services. In different workshops, representatives of the parties involved will work towards drawing up a plan on how to put all of this into practice. Rear Admiral Stawitzki urges: "We must link up more closely and lend an ear to each other's concerns. This is the only way we can succeed in identifying the requirements of the future and provide the necessary resources such as material, personnel and training to meet them in a sustainable manner."