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Mission in the East: The Building of an Army in a Democracy in the New German States: Naval War College Newport Papers 7 by Colonel Us Army Mark E Victorson, Naval War College Press (Paperback / softback, 2012)
At midnight on 2 October 1990 the German Democratic Republic (GDR) ceased to exist. The following day the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Bundeswehr, took control of the personnel, equipment, and installations of what had been the National People's Army (Nationale Volksarmee or NVA). By any reckoning this was a massive undertaking and one of great historical significance. Securing, inventorying, and disposing of this materiel was to be a major mission for the Bundeswehr throughout its first years in the new states. Complicating this mission was the almost immediate need to support the liberation of Kuwait through materiel shipments and support of departing U.S.; units, the additional responsibility to assist the Western Group of Soviet Forces in an orderly withdrawal from German territory; and the longer-term requirement to reduce the Bundeswehr's size by almost 30 percent. Of more lasting significance, however, will be the human impact of the union of the two Germanys. If the changes for West Germans have t been as dramatic, the effects have certainly been felt intensely. In the midst of the changes wrought by unification, the Bundeswehr took on missions for which its origin and history had uniquely qualified it. First, there was the self-imposed requirement to select former NVA officers and ncommissioned officers who requested active duty in the Bundeswehr and then train them to asume the functions of leaders in the armed forces of a democratic society. Second, the Bundeswehr would have to build legitimacy for the armed forces among an East German population that had learned to distrust the military. The concepts of Innere Fuehrung, or Iner Leadership, which had stood the Bundeswehr in good stead in similar endeavors at its beginning and throughout its short history, were used again to meet these new challenges. This paper describes some of the ways these concepts aided in facilitating the dual processes of the integration of former NV A officers and ncommissioned officers into the Bundeswehr and the acceptance of the military in the new German states. It begins with a brief analysis of the concepts and their perceived strengths and weaknesses. It describes the essential differences between the Bundeswehr and the NV A leadership philosophy, political education, and outlook and also the impact the revolutionary political changes of the Turning Point and the consequent reunification had on both of these armies. After a brief discussion of the legacy of the NV A, this study describes how the concepts of Innere Fuehrung were applied to combat that legacy, the challenges faced in this endeavor, and prospects for the future. The thesis of this paper is that, despite their flaws and shortcomings, the principles of Innere Fuehrung played a key role in the early development of the Bundeswehr as an army in a democracy and in its acceptance by the civilian populace of the Federal Republic of Germany, and that these principles have promoted the same processes in the new Gennan states. Although the NV A was t the anny the Bundeswehr thought it was facing during the years of the Cold War, its true legacy is being sununted by leaders well-versed in Innere Fuehrung. Grave problems remain, however. A sensitive application of the concepts of Innere Fuehrung can help solve some of these problems, and, in fact, some of them mirror issues from the Bundeswehr's own history, while others, such as the ecomic conditions in the new states that adversely affect soldiers and civilians alike, are t amenable to correction by the military alone and therefore have the potential to undo the successes of the early pioneers to the East. The Bundeswehr can certainly lay claim to one of the few success stories of the unification, but the entire story has yet to be told.
Colonel Us Army Mark E Victorson, Naval War College Press