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What’s the Matter with Innere Führung?

By Uwe Hartmann

The principle of Innere Führung requires an assimilation with contemporary categories. This is the result of a survey carried out by the military educator and co-founder of the “Yearbook Innere Führung”, Uwe Hartmann.

An accurate assessment of the status quo first of all requires a review of the original goals of Innere Führung. The concept derives from the special situation that West Germany was in following the Second World War. Integration into the Western defense community made it necessary to establish military structures that were intended to become an integral part of the young democratic constitutional state. Young people called upon to serve in the defense army were to do so as “citizens in uniform”. They were to be protected against being reduced to the status of order-takers with no responsibility for their actions. For their part, they were called upon as politically mature employees to self-confidently counteract any abuse of the military by totalitarian forces.

According to Uwe Hartmann’s findings, this leadership concept is currently in crisis. Criticism comes from two sides: One demands a strengthening of traditional command structures; while the other believes that the leadership philosophy is no longer in step with the times, because the nature of conflicts has changed – the key term here being “hybrid wars”. Uwe Hartmann writes that both criticisms are based on a misunderstanding which sees Innere Führung as a static institution. In fact, however, the idea of Innere Führung has always been that of a dynamic process. It envisages continuous adaptation to respective prevailing tasks. Precisely for this reason, it is better able to deal with the profound change in military structures, strategies and technologies in the 21st century than fixed structures of conventional models.

At this point, Hartmann identifies shortcomings: The adaptation which should in principle occur has so far been insufficient. Yet it is necessary if the German armed forces, together with their foreign partners, are to reliably fulfill their social mandate.

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