Reply to wish list


I asked for a wish list in November; here are my replies:
What are the foreign policy objectives that are driving the coming Defence review, and what will be the capability change that result?
I'll keep reporting the outcomes, but I am not sure about the actual driving factors other than budget squeeze and a huge perception inside the Bundeswehr that we have much room for improvement (especially in personnel affairs). A greater share of deployable personnel (especially infantry) for blue helmet and other smallish missions was assumed to be necessary and overdue, but ISAF has significantly reduced the enthusiasm in regard to such missions.

I'd like to see more articles about the German and European defense industry.
To be honest, there are already enough publications about the industry and de facto also by the industry. I drop my occasional text about programs going wrong (such as A400M), but I'm generally the wrong guy for news about the industry. Sorry.

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?
If I only knew...most likely the answer is closely related to political inertia and an exaggeration of relationships and reputation. German politicians aren't used to make a resolute stand on peripheral topics like ISAF. Party first, economy second, other domestic topics third.

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.
Honestly, it's not my area of expertise. I'll remember your question when I come across a good source, though.

It's nevertheless quite well-known that the biggest historical failures were likely the wrong estimates about the Soviet Union in 1940-1945. The Red Army was first completely underestimated in its quantity and later on the Soviet arms production was overestimated by a factor of two or more. Guess what? The same people who did these wrong estimates later offered their service to the Western powers' intelligence services and were welcomed. We (NATO) kept overestimating the Soviet Union during the Cold War and now we're probably back to underestimating Russia.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on the prospects for the Eurozone joint strike force, especially given the current financial problems.
There are multiple joint European (or at least multinational) paper tigers, such as Eurocorps and  a EU Battlegroup. I already planned to write about this in general. The short version is that I like multinational corps as peacetime formations, but dislike multinational divisions and brigades. My rationale is about the inner workings of an army and about budgets, it's not about foreign policy.

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.
Sorry, I've left active service in the late 90's and think that occasional snippets are all that I should offer as comment on this specific topic. I have a certain antipathy against the "I don't want to be transferred every two years and I don't want organizational changes all the time" moods that seems to be quite prevalent in the active force nowadays. I need to learn much more about the issue before I write about it.

[...] 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.

* 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. ;)
* The federal German government takes energy policy much more seriously than GWOT issues. The specific case of energy for vehicles is more a global and industry issue than a challenge for a single state, though. It seems tome as if we're moving towards a partial substitution of oil with batteries in vehicles and with natural gas and coal for the chemical industry.

* http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2009/04/modern-time-landwehr-for-germany.html

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.)
We still need to fully catch up with the microelectronics hardware revolution. So far we have most likely next to no clue about modern high and peer vs. peer warfare because we had no such thing post-'44.

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 a draft for a German security policy, in German and English text versions. This one will pretty much answer the European security policy topic as well.

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.
I'm trying to track this down, but I suspect it's a lot about the Jagdstreife/Jagdkommando concept anyway.

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 and General von Manstein
1940, Battle of Sedan – Analysis of key tactical victory leading to victory in France
Rommel – great tactician but poor troop leader?
German military reforms; I touch on these subjects in multiple posts, as side remarks or background info.

1870/1871 war: Honestly, not much interested to date.

Innovation in WWI: There are books about this, and their authors don't agree. I wasn't there, can't help it. The aviation innovations were likely the result of having to develop anything because there was nothing yet. The infantry and artillery topics are covered in Gudmundsson's books.

Germany created so many innovations simply because it was a leading nation in chemistry, engineering and physics till WW2. It was quite inevitable. The downside was occasional over-engineering.

About the aces; it was the combination of early easy victories (= time for inexperienced men to learn. Some later aces were even freed from captivity when France fell in 1940), unlimited tours (fighter aces got vacations and periods as trainers, but they weren't recalled after 30 missions or similar as done by the U.S.) and long participation in the WW2. I personally am more impressed by how the Finns reached such a very high level in winter 1939/40 real quick.

Sedan '40 - I can only recommend Frieser's book on this because it's my primary source on the topic.

Rommel - great and extremely lucky tactician, great in self-promotion, unimpressive strategist. Rommel is highly regarded in the anglophone world, but chances are much better that I'll write about von Manstein  (operational art from corps to army group level) or Strachwitz (tactician below brigade level) than about Rommel.

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?
I'm not impressed by my sources about such space warfare things. It's very easy to keep much secret on these things because few people work on them and there are no relevant doctrine manuals to speak of. I have a suspicion that the European level of spending on satellites and related programs is about right.
Btw: http://wikileaks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/03/germany_planning_secret_satellite_recon

I would actually like to read an article on logistics, preferably that of the (light) infantry. Any thoughts you could spare would be appreciated.
Gefechtsfeld Mitteleuropa by Franz-Uhle Wettler (early 80's) was quite innovative in regard to light infantry logistics.
The Israelis are experimenting with Llamas as superior alternative to mules (mules still have an edge if you want to move heavy single loads, such as disassembled mountain guns and heavy mortars).
The Americans are still rejecting water filtration technologies in favour of carrying near-suicidal amounts of fresh water on patrols. I expect that they'll soon switch to some 10 y.o. water filtration tech, declare it to be a great and brand-new American invention and the next best thing to sliced bread.

Logistics in general; I try hard not to neglect this. I've even got a draft on this and read some literature specifically on operational logistics, but in the end I don't feel that I've got anything ready for the "publish" button.

(Further replies were already in the comments of the wish list blog post.)



  1. DaveS.

    Communist Guerrilla Warfare by Aubrey Dixon and Otto Heilbrunn available for free at:

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

    Excellent, will also be interested to read your security policy for germany when it leaves draft.

    Thank you.