Skip to main content

The Case of the Bundeswehr – Who Serves Germany?

Something has changed. You used to see them much more often, the young men in uniform. They would travel on long-distance trains on the weekends, and almost everyone knew a soldier in their family. Today you mostly encounter the Bundeswehr on television news, in reports from Mali and Afghanistan, or about disaster relief efforts. The Bundeswehr used to be much more strongly integrated into society, and the concept of Innere Führung envisages closeness to everyday civilian life.

In the future, it is not only the equipment that will be renewed. The individual soldier is also coming under scrutiny. But do soldiers feel socialized? And what image does the German public actually have of German soldiers? In the United States, people are proud of their fighters and defenders. But what about here, in this country? Improving the reputation of soldiers is another goal of the Bundeswehr and the German Federal Ministry of Defense. The philosophy of the democratic German armed forces is regarded as a beacon and role model for many countries, and it is good to know that we have the concept of Innere Führung in the Bundes­wehr in Germany. Nevertheless, the Bundes­wehr has serious problems when it comes to recruiting young people. Unfortunately, not even Innere Führung can provide the answers here.

Enough personnel need to be recruited. Attempts are being made to tweak various parameters. Working hours were recently changed. Many employment criteria have been relaxed, advertising budgets increased, and, despite criticism, the targeted search in schools for suitable young applicants continues. The percentage of women has risen over the years, yet among the troops, acceptance of women has actually fallen. A lot of money is flowing into leadership coaching and advanced training, as the system needs top leaders and managers who can not only identify problems but also deal with them in a solution-oriented way. The pressure is rising. For years, the Bundeswehr has attempted to become more family-friendly, while at the same time there are more overseas deployments.


Who serves Germany, and what does the country need more of in the future? “Ethics and Armed Forces” gives answers to very critical questions, while always considering members of the German armed forces and their families. I hope you enjoy reading this “Ethics and Armed Forces” special.