Wish list

Two dozen topics are under preparation for this blog, but somehow I'm not convinced that I'll eventually post all of the texts.

I'm curious; what do readers want to see as topic?

Blogs get mostly the audience they deserve, and usually the audience is more aligned with the author than average. I figure that some wished-for topics could interest me too.

Drop a line in the comments if you think you've got a good topic for a non-mainstream blog topic!

(You will have a hard time if you want to convince me to write more about minor nuisances like terrorists or pirates).

Sven Ortmann

One of the most stupid and most boring things to do:

To translate your own (foreign language) text back into your mother tongue - all 2,100 words.

It's funny; an English text is as a rule of thumb only about 80% as long as a German one. Well, that may be true unless I do the translation. My ratio tends to be the opposite. I guess I'm more concise in German.

The good thing about it: There's a big post is under preparation, in both languages. Topic: A(nother) national security strategy and policy for Germany. I guess 2,100 words is already quite concise for such a topic.
Don't even think about asking me for a French version. It's doable, but I don't want to be cruel against the French language.



  1. Hi Sven,

    Having started my blog largely in response to the British SDSR, and wishing to comment on the political and foreign policy drivers for a Defence review, I would be very keen to hear more about the evolution of the German Armed Forces.

    What are the foreign policy objectives that are driving the coming Defence review, and what will be the capability change that result?


  2. The short version is that they apparently freeze the budget and the conscription will most likely be deactivated.

    It's very difficult to write anything meaningful about the reform because it's so much about politics (state, federal, 3x party, foreign, fiscal and last but not least defence politics).

    The other problem is that there's very little final information on the reform.

    Finally, we've got a 'strong character' as minister this time after a row of 'weak' ones. He got dumped into this office to neutralize him in party politics after he got much attention in another ministry and now he's getting attention even here. This minister can be expected to influence the reform much, as can his opponents (and thus even cripple the forces for the sake of intra-party politics!).

    I prefer to write about the final shape of the reform instead of writing much about rumours. You can expect a blog post on this till summer.

  3. I'd like to see more articles about the German and European defense industry. There's quite a few american blogs that cover it but not many European ones.

  4. "The other problem is that there's very little final information on the reform."

    Cheers Sven,

    I appreciate the problem, but are there no local equivalents to RUSI, or the IISS, creating policy options?

    Either way, I shall look forward to your insight on the future of the German forces.


  5. I'd like to hear your analysis of the driving forces of defence policy in Germany in particular and more generally. When nearly 80% of the electorate wants to withdraw forces from Afghanistan, what is really motivating German foreign policy?

    I am skeptical that it comes down to a heart-felt love of women's rights and school-buliding.

  6. @Luny:
    I wrote in Oct 07 a bit about that. Today, I fear, it has simply become a political custom to keep troops on overseas missions - without reasoning. It's like a subscription.
    Some green pols are serious about the idealism motive, there's very little indication of seriousness from other angles.

    IIRC the "80%" was about rejecting a real combat mission, while withdrawal gets about 60%.

    The main factors behind general defence policy are likely both bureaucratic/political inertia and the lack of interest in allocating more funds.

    Finally, the ministry of defence has very often served as a waste dump for politicians, as an end-of-career office. The driving force behind its policy is therefore pretty much no force.

    There are not really such institutions. We have the high uniformed staffs, the ministry bureaucracy and a few foundations (basically party organizations, but not under the same legal restrictions as parties (money)). None of these do really push their thoughts into the public.

    We have an open discussion among insiders instead of an open discussion and think tank culture in public. It's probably a late symptom of having followed Western defence policy for 35 years and it may also be a result of a public that's not exactly enthusiastic about discussing military topics. A public discussion could provoke a lot of undesired public opposition.


    I have a draft for a German security policy concept of my own and it just takes a bit more time to mature. I'll post it in both languages.

    A (not exactly inspired) draft from another blogger can be seen here:
    http://tinyurl.com/2wgzjz4 (use google for translation if necessary)

  7. As jedibeeftrix said it would be nice to hear more about the current defence review in Germany once there's more information available, I'd be interested to hear from you about the "pros" and "cons" of new structures and doctrines. E.g. there's a concept out there which sees the restructuring of the Army (four division level commands, multi-battalion regiments, no brigades except the Franco-German Brigade, almost no Combat Support, I heard about two or three multi-company artillery regiments and no mobile air defence at all).

  8. I'd be interested to hear about German approaches to military intelligence over time, the formalization (or lack thereof) of MI in the decision making process and notable successes and failures.

  9. Oh yes, I'd like to learn about that as well. ;-)

  10. "We have an open discussion among insiders instead of an open discussion and think tank culture in public. It's probably a late symptom of having followed Western defence policy for 35 years and it may also be a result of a public that's not exactly enthusiastic about discussing military topics."

    understood, thank you Sven. i shall look forward to any ruminations on where internal thought is heading.


  11. I'd like to hear your thoughts on the prospects for the Eurozone joint strike force, especially given the current financial problems.

  12. Hi Sven, thank you for the free ride! In several posts you wrote about motivating soldiers to do their work right and the three things any army drives on in combat: cohesion, cohesion, cohesion. I wonder if it is possible to evaluate the esprit de coprs in the Bundeswehr Heer and - if necessary - to propose some measures to improve the motivation of its combat units.

  13. @Norman: I'll keep my eyes open for a guest author on the topic, but I myself could at most write about what the Heer taught its leaders about cohesion in the 80's and 90's.

    Motivation and cohesion are different topics. Motivation issues of today have afaik a lot to do with personnel system, funding (equipment, ammunition), rotation to missions, RoE, red tape and a decline of training standards since the 90's.

    Might happen.

  14. Hello,

    like others requested, a review of military intervention in german politics would be very interesting, esp. how the the "friedenspanzer" consensus of the early nineties drives policies and/or what politicans can and cannot say about the role of the military in foreign relations.

  15. Here's what I am curious about:

    * Green/alternative energy: It still appears as if the design of new systems and concepts heavily lacks in (or even: ignores) taking into account a potentially very sharp increase of the oil price. Biofuel is not the answer, there's far too little of that available.

    * Life/work model: Part-time soldiers (20h/week), optionally for "workers" with 2 jobs, and the military acting much more like a "normal employer". In other words, an attempt to remove the dust from the system. ;)

  16. @Merowinger:

  17. Can we consider robotics to be the new "internal combustion engine revolution" in military affairs ?

    If so, what do you think would be the impact on future warfare ? I'm not only thinking about robotic "old world" weapon systems (like automated MGs, tanks or planes) but also new applications (small robots for urban warfare, robotic assistants, ground mapping, recon, industrial sabotage etc.)

    Lots of info on this topic is hype /propaganda, but what is not ?

  18. How about a draft unified European security and defence setup? What measures are already in place? What could/should it look like? How to get there, what steps are necessary?

    I have an article I did for a rather strange (but generous) mag not too long ago, just in case you care for a little input.

    Multi part, obviously. Could open an own blog on that. LOL.

  19. @Distiller: Related posts were



  20. Somewhat related: 10 centuries in 5 minutes (watch the ever-changing borders of Europe)

  21. I like your general comment on the matters happening at the time. Please keep that up.

    I am more interested in the past that the future of German military thinking.

    For instance I had a book in the 70s by Aubrey Dixon and Otto Heilbrunn, Communist Guerrilla Warfare.(Published 1955). It dealt with Soviet guerrilla activities after 1941 and includes a valuable piece (not complete) Warfare Against Bands, dated 6 May 1944 and signed by Jodl. Excellent piece, way ahead of its time.

    It would be great if you could find the full version and lead a discussion of it here.

  22. DaveS.

    Germans military reforms starting with 1806 through 1940
    Franco/Prussian War – tactical and strategic Lessons Learned
    Innovation in WWI – how did Germany develop the ideas of stormtroopers, artillery -Bruchmuller innovations and aviation innovations with Boelcke and Richthofen
    How did German industry create so many weapon innovations – ME 262, ME 163, V1, V2, Panther/Tiger Tanks, Bismarck,MG 42 in WWII
    How did Germany during WWII find and create such warrior leaders as Michael Wittmann, Kurt Meyer, Joachim Peiper, Hans-Joachim Marseille, Eric Hartman, Adolf Galland & General von Manstein
    1940, Battle of Sedan – Analysis of key tactical victory leading to victory in France
    Rommel – great tactician but poor troop leader?

  23. Since you are focused on wars of necessity, I am interested in your thoughts on the importance of satellite and space systems for an all out war. With all the focus on high-tech, taking out a big part of the eye-in-the-sky, ordinance-guidance, satellite-navigation and communications would be very tempting.

    Could a "medium sized nation" still be independent in these matters? Or is an alliance necessary?
    How will this necessity (if it really is important) effect the political situation?

    Should Europe go for anti-satellite weapons or should it avoid an arms race to avoid space junk making many satellite orbits unusable?
    Or is blinding or electronically frying satellites a "safe" alternative to complete physical destruction of the enemies' satellites?

    A space disaster where a lot of satellites (including civilian) are destroyed should be avoided and hopefully only reserved for some war of survival, but it would be most effective in the beginning of a war, so how do you decide when you have to start taking out satellites?

  24. Sven,

    I would like to second what Saif Katana said...

    You have been writing extensively about so many interesting topics: yet German space/satellite operations and development (for surveillance/monitoring or otherwise) has not been touched on at all.

    Generally, even in English-language media, there is hardly any write-up on Germany's surveillance satellite development. I just can't wait to hear about it from you, Sven.

    Considering the reputation of German science and engineering, German/EU aerospace gears (and ideas) must be an exiting topic.


  25. Hi sven. I would actually like to read an article on logistics, preferably that of the (light) infantry. Any thoughts you could spare would be appreciated. I don't know much about the subject, but you have a way of making it both comprehensible and interesting.