"Kriegsnah ausbilden - Hilfen für den Gefechtsdienst aller Truppen"

"Kriegsnah ausbilden - Hilfen für den Gefechtsdienst aller Truppen" is the original 80's publication which received so much political correctness criticism that it was withdrawn and later republished in a modified version (only to receive the same criticism).

I never understood the PC critique (and I'm no right wing nut at all). The historical examples are well-selected, useful and do not appear to me to be somehow tainted by political things or prejudices. Failures, sacrifice and suffering are described in anecdotes as are outstanding successes.

The booklet is rarely to be found in ebay (it took me ages to find a worn copy at an acceptable price), but the miracle of the intertubes seems to offer an alternative.

I'm not aware of any translated versions, although the publication is certainly good enough to warrant an English translation. It does have a huge 'Great War' bias, because it draws a lot from WW2 examples, though. The quality of the booklet is much better than usual in the field manual genre; it was actually written to inform and influence junior leaders and enlisted personnel. Lots of field manuals do not appear to be written for such a purpose.

Sven O


  1. It is indeed quite an interesting reading. In esp. in comparison to similar materials from the east. Comparatively it is severely leaking in some areas. In esp. it's missing to mention actual important parts of the behavior needed to survive in bad/cold weather, which can be commonly found in similar publications further to the east. In fact a typical field manual there will be about 50% about how to survive the weather. The "wisdom" that frost is less of a danger compared to wet is even outright ridiculous.There is no word about how to reduce the packing load on the solder as well - a very significant thing.

  2. Matthias Wilde30 April 2012 19:59

    Great read, a few months ago I came across this manual for the first time.

    As so often, the PC criticisms really miss the mark and demonstrate infantile wishful thinking - along the lines of "Let´s just hope war will never come, and besides, preparing for war is the same as wishing for war, so you must be gun nut, a war nerd, or, of course, a nazi."

    Especially the no-nonsense attitude I found refreshing, the cold-blooded looking in the eye of the fact that war means DEATH, period. Quite the contrast to disneylandificated modern life.

    Interesting point on the survival skills, Rosomak. For me as a layman, though, the difference you mentioned seems to have more to do with the fact that this manual is at least as much an instruction in principles as an instruction in specific skills.

    In other words, as Sven alluded to, the focus here seems to lie especially in the preparation of mental attitudes to combat, the formation and deepening of psychological resilience, focus, leadership etc. For survival skills there are other manuals, I suppose.

    1. In my opinion mainly two things are at play here:

      1. The climate in western europe is not by accident called mild atlantic. The winters are for example more often then not a joke.

      2. The topography is simply much "denser" in terms of urbanization, road infrastructure and so on. There is hardly a place where there is no shelter within 45 min of walk to be found.

      And of course: there is only so much that can be teached in esp. to adults. Some things have to be dealt with by the culture/upbringing I think. How to deal with adverse weather is surprisingly one of them. In german populated areas I was in particular always struck by the fact that usually during the 1 or 2 weeks of proper winter the natives clothing was far too light. Usually it was adequate for some transition time between places and only for the daytime. The interiors of buildings where far too warm. In contrast to that, the population in the east will almost always cloth in a way that allows to sustain the temperatures all around. Why did I notice this? Well, mostly because several times people actually pointed out to me that I had far more layers of cloth on than what they would have expected. In esp. funny was the expression of some kind of "hardening", when in fact I was contrary to them just wearing much more cloth beneath then they did.

  3. The insufficient adaption of cars (tires!) and drivers to winter conditions (especially icy roads) in many lowland regions is a bigger problem.

  4. Matthias Wilde3 May 2012 14:30

    A short detour, Sven, which I would like to post at a more relevant article; problem is, though, nobody responds to the older ones.

    Regarding force density: I concur that much lower force densities are an obvious fact at the current time. The Bundeswehr, for example, has probably about 120K people under arms right now, compared to more than 400K during the Cold War.

    It makes perfect sense to cut the size of your military when you don´t have a real enemy, but why do you assume this would be the case when another "Big One" comes around?

    You yourself said that societies as a whole could switch to war mode quite quickly; so if SHTF what reasons would prevent western states form forming large militaries again? Why do you assume that future wars will ipso facto be low density wars?

    1. Remember the slow force build-ups for the Iraq invasions. NATO could send 120-200 brigade equivalents into a campaign, but most would arrive either incomplete and at poor readiness or over the course of many weeks.

      The first weeks may be decisive, though. The force density is going to be low during the early period unless the typical pre-World War two years arms race has happened.