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Published on Dec 08, 2022 Updated 23 Days ago
Germany’s NSS can help map its return to strategic action by redefining its foreign and security policy
German defence policy after renewed war in Europe For the first time in history, Germany will have a National Security Strategy (NSS) by the beginning of 2023. It will define the concept of security across all ministries and functions as a point of orientation for foreign and security policy. The idea of thinking about security in a comprehensive and holistic way is an important step for Germany's return to strategic action. Furthermore, the NSS will consider the fact that Germany was too dependent on Russian resources and is too vulnerable to many different economic cycles. The dependency on Russia at the beginning of the war against Ukraine will serve as a great lesson to ensure that this will happen never again. On top of that, the NSS will try to guarantee that this is going to be applied to all other important areas. This attempt at diversification will take several years; mostly a sophisticated strategy and a will to persevere for more than one legislative term. This particular look and assessment of dependencies will not please China, but it will probably shape a new kind of relationship. A great challenge for the NSS will be to confront the crises that are unfurling such as the Russia-Ukraine War, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. It must take into account these challenges and must be in line with the Strategic Compass of the EU and the NATO Strategic Concept as well. This will be a huge task, as many circumstances have to be considered while forming a clear and comprehensive strategy.

A great challenge for the NSS will be to confront the crises that are unfurling such as the Russia-Ukraine War, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the same time, the German government has launched a 100-billion euro special fund for the Bundeswehr (the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany). The aim is to restore the country's military capabilities after years of austerity. This attempt at  a peace dividend affected the entire armed forces and led to declining numbers and low operational readiness everywhere.It  has become particularly visible in old planes for nuclear deterrence, low or poor skill in the areas of transport helicopters, air defence, and C2 structures. With the purchase of F-35 jets and CH-47 helicopters, two projects have already been put on the road. However, it will take time until the defence industry can fulfil all the items on the shopping list. With enormous effort, the rest of the special fund is now to be poured into military capabilities. In the field of ammunition production, it is becoming apparent that the industry has cut back its production capacities in recent years. The supply of much of what is needed will therefore take some time. It must be emphasised that the Bundeswehr will not be over-equipped, but will be given the necessary material to protect Germany and Europe effectively. The main objectives are the establishment of a rapid reaction capability of the armed forces, the interoperability with partners and the provision of the indicated forces to NATO. To make the armed forces truly effective and sustainable, the regular defence budget must also continue to increase. Even next year, Germany will not invest 2 percent of its GDP in its defence. In 2014, Germany, like the other NATO countries, promised at the meeting in Wales that this would be the goal in addition to an annual investment of 20 percent for the armed forces, and yeteven a war in the immediate vicinity of its own border does not change Germany's actions. Many neighbouring European countries have understood the seriousness of the situation and assess the threat from Russia differently than Germany.

The main objectives are the establishment of a rapid reaction capability of the armed forces, the interoperability with partners and the provision of the indicated forces to NATO.

There is a good chance that the establishment of this strategy will coincide with the build-up of new military capabilities. If these two elements are now backed up with a political will, Germany can become a player on a different level. Germany recently deployed a frigate and took part in an air force exercise in the Indo-Pacific region within a short space of time. Further signs of support for the partners in the area will follow. The German Army will also participate in the Australian exercise Talisman Saber 2023. If Germany continues to prove that it is a valuable and reliable partner in the Indo-Pacific, further relations can be established and peace and stability in the region can be secured. What is certain, however, is that Germany will make every effort to ensure that the rule-based order does not lose its importance even far away from the European continent. With the NSS as a basis for the German Indo-Pacific Strategy, Germany underlines its ambitions to export the values for a free and open-minded world. To keep expectations real  it has to be said that the German strength in the Indo-Pacific does have limitations. The focus area at the moment is east Europe and the north of Africa. But it does not necessarily have to be military power projection to assert one's influence in the Indo-pacific. Different areas to focus on are economic power, technology exchange, and value supplier associated with a guarantor for a rule-based world order. The economic interdependencies have significant relevance for China as well. Furthermore, it is important that Germany does not focus on the competition with China too much because Germany can offer so much more than just competing with it. Germany must meet potential partners in the region at eye level and understand their needs precisely and act accordingly.

Different areas to focus on are economic power, technology exchange, and value supplier associated with a guarantor for a rule-based world order.

A great overarching task is demanded from Germany, with all these points to consider and serious issues to address. Many European partners are taking a close look at how Germany acts and are adjusting their course accordingly. In summary, it must be said that Germany can only ever act effectively in the context of its alliances and partnerships. Nevertheless, two major questions will be of decisive importance for Germany's success in the Indo-Pacific region. First, how much will Germany muster to limit China despite its economic entanglements; second, how much funding will be diverted  for its commitments beyond the support of Ukraine? The answer to the first question will require Germany, an industrial nation, to make a major adjustment and possibly affect its own prosperity. The second one will also have far-reaching economic dimensions, but will ultimately determine whether Germany is really prepared to stand up for a rules-based and free world order.
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Contributor

Torben Arnold

Torben Arnold

Torben Arnold is Visiting Fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. He is part of the International Security Affairs Division. His research ...

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