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Innere Führung and Civil Protection – Keyword “Mission-Type Tactics.” By Dirk Freudenberg

In short by Hannah Nicklas

As the latest terrorist attacks show, the boundary between internal and external security is becoming increasingly blurred because of hybrid threats. The fire service, emergency services, disaster relief and aid organizations are confronted with questions of leadership ethics that are similar to those faced by the armed forces in Germany and overseas. What can one’s own forces reasonably be expected to do to rescue other people – and when is the danger no longer tenable? According to Dirk Freudenberg, this problem can be addressed with mission-type tactics (Auftragstaktik), also known as “leading by mission” (“Führen mit Auftrag”).

Recent developments in Europe mean a decisive shift especially for the disaster relief and emergency services. They increasingly face actors who are willing to use violence. They are no longer perceived as neutral helpers, but as representatives of the state, and are therefore targeted for attack. Not only does this impact heavily on helpers’ self-image, it can also place them in acute danger in some circumstances. This increases the burden of responsibility on leaders, who may need to weigh up the safety of the civilian population against the safety of their own personnel.

Freudenberg believes that Innere Führung can be of great help in such important decisions. In addition, he advocates preparation for hybrid threats during training. Hybrid threat situations and direct attacks on civilian task forces should also be taken into account in operational planning.

While the Bundeswehr has internalized mission-type tactics with Innere Führung, there is not yet any similar concept for German emergency response authorities. Despite this, they employ the same principles on the operational/tactical level, such as independence, initiative, special expertise and trust. Civil protection organizations have now adopted mission-type tactics in their service regulations. But, Freudenberg argues, Innere Führung could provide beneficial guidance to all actors in the national security architecture, with respect to shaping their inner structure. It remains an open question as to what exact form this would take.

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