German army needs ‘enemy image’ – top MP


Russia’s military action in Ukraine has allowed Germany to once again see “what an enemy might look like,” said a senior German MP.

A complex modernization of the German armed forces would have to be reinvented “an image of an enemy”, That’s what Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, the head of the Defense Committee of the German Bundestag, said. As Russia continues its military operation in Ukraine, the Bundeswehr sees again: “what an enemy might look like”, the MP told the RND media group on Tuesday.

A staggering €100 billion ($107.35 billion) worth of a military modernization fund announced by the German government on Tuesday is a major boost to the German armed forces, marking “the first step” on a long way from the german army “meets expectations” of Berlin’s NATO partners, said Strack-Zimmermann. But it’s not all the Bundeswehr needs to get back on its feet, says the senior MP and member of the Free Democratic Party (FDP).

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“What we need – that may sound combative – what the Bundeswehr needs from its point of view to act is an image of an enemy,” the MP told RND. Strack-Zimmermann has argued that over the years the Bundeswehr has lost this image of a potential enemy, especially as Russia was no longer seen as such during the years of what it called a“appeasement policy”.

“Now we know what an enemy might look like; what it looks like in this case,” the MP has said, referring to Russia’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine. According to Strack-Zimmermann, current developments also mean that NATO must “To adjust” on possible threats from China and Iran and to develop a strategy “how we continue to deal with Russia.”

That means you need the image of a possible enemy who wants to take away our freedom and democracy. And that’s what we see now.

However, the MP has admitted that the German armed forces are still… “a lot to catch up on” in a wide range of areas, ranging from the personal equipment of soldiers to the digitization of the military, as well as the modernization of medical services, the navy and cyber defense.

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Archive photo: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, April 19, 2022. © LISI NIESNER / POOL / AFP
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According to the legislator, Germany “the fourth largest economy in the world, but the same can’t be said about our military.”

Strack-Zimmermann also said MPs were expected to draft the €100 billion modernization plan. “moving” on Friday. Last Sunday, lawmakers approved a special exemption needed to borrow the money and invest in the military.

The ruling coalition needed the support of opposition lawmakers to secure two-thirds of the vote to pass the decision, which would require an amendment to Germany’s Basic Law.

Germany currently has the fourth largest military force among NATO members, but the bloc’s largest armies are deployed by non-European countries: the US and Turkey. Currently, the German military is lagging behind that of another European superpower – France – when it comes to military strength.

Russia attacked Ukraine in late February after Kiev failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and the eventual recognition by Moscow of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The Minsk Protocol brokered by Germany and France is designed to give the breakaway regions a special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself as a neutral country that will never join NATO’s US-led military bloc. Kiev maintains that the Russian offensive was unprovoked and denies that it intended to retake the two republics by force.

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