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wf
wf
January 9, 2014 6:14 pm

But no one mentioned the war!

WiseApe
January 9, 2014 8:04 pm

He missed.

as
as
January 9, 2014 8:18 pm

it sound like more of a swipe at the French then us. Has anyone herd some rude comments off any French or British MP’s or generals that have made it in to the papers in the last month or so? to explain the outburst.

Chris
Chris
January 9, 2014 8:22 pm

“Germany has no lessons to take from anyone in Europe on how to organise its military interventions” I’m biting my tongue so hard its bleeding; I so want to ask “Herr de Maiziere, are you referring to Czechoslovakia, Poland, the USSR, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway or France?”…

Jackstaff
Jackstaff
January 9, 2014 9:25 pm

,

This. One thousand times this. As the really very funny (and the Yanks’ best newsman these days, God what times have come to) American comic John Stewart put in a satirical book on comparative politics: “in other countries, people may ask themselves, ‘have our politics and our country ever sunk this low or been through such dark times?’ Germans do not do this.” Funny both ways you take it. And would someone with the appropriate google-fu remind me, is he at all a descendent of the De Maziere who, having been a relatively ‘clean’ Wehrmacht general (linked loosely with one of the plots and so well eligible for reform during the whitewashing years) who built the guts of the Bundeswehr? That De Maziere had at least a philosophical streak about his own country and about European security, and is probably doing about 110 rpm at the moment…

Sgt Pep
Sgt Pep
January 9, 2014 9:39 pm

Well he’s right about one thing – the Government’s defeat at the Commons in the vote for military intervention in Syria was an embarrassment and humiliation – not just for Cameron but for Britain.

You have to feel sorry for the Germans, they already get so much criticism for supposedly throwing their weight around and acting like an hegemon when it comes to economic decisions in the EU, can you imagine the amount of stick they would get if they would do the same in military decisions?! probably even more snide remarks about the war, Nazis, the usual stuff, etc.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 9, 2014 10:54 pm

I’m assuming he reads TD and has taken exception to some of the disobliging remarks occasionally addressed to contributors known to be based North East of the Rhine…

GNB

H_K
H_K
January 9, 2014 11:13 pm

Bet he’s just getting even with the French. There’s been an increasing chorus of accusations that Germany is free-riding on the backs of its European partners (who also happen to have greater budget problems). Mostly in the back corridors of power and innuendos in the press. I doubt anything official though.

Basically the issue is this (from the French perspective):

Saying no to Libya and Syria can be forgiven.
Saying yes to Mali & the Central African Republic, then not offering jacks*** to back up your good words cannot.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
January 9, 2014 11:21 pm

Funniest TD post EVER!!!! Bravo!!!!

S O
S O
January 10, 2014 12:32 am

You’re don’t discuss what he said because you didn’t read the original transcript or watch a video of the speech. That newspaper cannot translate.

He said Germany needs “keine Belehrungen über Art und Ausmaß unserer internationalen Einsätze, auch nicht aus Frankreich und Großbritannien”
http://www.handelsblatt.com/politik/deutschland/thomas-de-maiziere-deutschland-braucht-keine-belehrungen/9307422.html
(“no instructions about the kind and scale of our international missions, also not from France and Great Britain” (or instead of “also not”: “this includes”).

So this wasn’t about interventions (blowing stuff up and stuff), but about deployments into crisis regions in general.
The UK has today four army missions to Africa and one to Cyprus. The other deployments are no crisis regions by the greatest stretch of imagination.
Germany:
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auslandseins%C3%A4tze_der_Bundeswehr

The interpretation in Germany is mostly that he aimed at the French demands for more Germans in Mali, but I understand you guys would first think of the anglophone world instead.

By the way; not a single of the German overseas deployments would be legal if the federal constitutional court hadn’t flat-out lied about what the relevant constitutional article says about employment limits for the German armed forces.

A Different Gareth
A Different Gareth
January 10, 2014 12:47 am

Proclaiming that no German government has failed to get authorisation for military intervention is nothing to be proud about. Neither for that matter is failure of the UK government to get approval for action in Syria anything to be ashamed of. All it shows is that governments fear failing to make difficult cases in public.

I would much prefer a government try and fail to convince our representatives then either do and say nothing while people die, or worse, rail road/bribe representatives with jobs and access to vote for what could be a very poor plan. Failing to get approval for it is vital feedback for the government and if you try to game that feedback you end up with dodgy dossiers, a lack of accountability and muddled priorities.

Obsvr
Obsvr
January 10, 2014 7:27 am

Actually his remarks seem to have been about political competence. The bit about never loosing a vote for intervention is precisely aimed at PMUK.

Would it be undiplomatic to ask about GE casualties in Afg and how this relates to force size/duration compared to others? A pat on the back for turning up is not necessarily the same as doing the hard yards.

tweckyspat
January 10, 2014 7:43 am

Obsvr yes it would, and I believe misguided

Persistent reference to “hard yards”and casualties in AFG actually forms part of the critique Germany (and to an extent other european NATO nations) have about the UK, US approach. As I see it (not a German, but in NATO and in and out of AFG regularly) they look at our willingness to sustain “the hard yards” with bewilderment not admiration; they certainly do not wring their hands and wish they could deploy troops into more warfighting roles in AFG. They look at what they see as UK and US failure in the south and east as actually making things more and more difficult in the North and West for them. In many ways they think their “comprehensive apporach” in the North has been more successful and could be a model; certainly the military relationship with other national agencies appears to a Brit to have been less dysfunctional than say MOD and DFiD.

Brits may feel this analysis is flawed but it is a political reality in Germany and elsewhere. For my money its more than just a translation issue; they genuinely don’t think they need lessons from us. But I would be interested to hear S_O’s view on this as clearly he is closer to German national sentiment than me

Brian Black
Brian Black
January 10, 2014 10:53 am

The recent wars and interventions have been a matter of choice for the British, French, and Germans rather than matters of necessity. So can any one of these three amigos really have a legitimate gripe at the level of participation of the others? Britain could criticise the level of commitment that Germany had in Afghanistan; but then again, did Britain show a level of commitment comparable to the USA?

Some of the differences in approach are also easily understandable. For example, the French president can personally commit French forces to an operation, while in Germany their parliament needs to give approval. So obviously the French can act more quickly and decisively (hastily and recklessly?) while the Germans need to present and win the argument. Britain sits somewhere in between; the PM can act presidentialy, but protocol and angry MPs demand that parliament be consulted – as in the Iraq war, where tens of thousands of troops are built up in the region under Blair’s orders alone, but parliament still got a last-minute vote on the eve of war; or in the case of Syria, with Cameron presenting strikes as a sure thing before political necessity demanded parliament have a say.

The Franco-German brigade also seems to have been a long-term niggling annoyance for the French, who have been keen to see this useless formation deployed while the Germans seem quite happy for it to exist only as a symbolic entity.

It’s also worth mentioning Germany’s collective guilt and shame over trying to kill half of Europe. Following the adage “don’t shit on your own doorstep”, France and Britain’s imperial horrors were usually conducted well away from home.

We also went through the redemption process – yes we profited through slavery, but then we decided that it wasn’t right and played a key role in stopping it; and yes we subjugated people, but then we decided that it wasn’t right and gave people their freedom and our democracy. As a consequence, we feel ok about our military history and don’t carry the same burden of guilt as the Germans, who until quite recently were murdering people right up to the point when they were physically stopped from murdering people – no redemption, no personal realisation that maybe we should stop doing this shit, and so a persistent reticence when it comes to military operations.

a
a
January 10, 2014 12:58 pm

“Proclaiming that no German government has failed to get authorisation for military intervention is nothing to be proud about. Neither for that matter is failure of the UK government to get approval for action in Syria anything to be ashamed of.”

Yes on the first, no on the second, simply for the reason Observer mentions: it’s a sign of incredible political incompetence. If you’ve got a critical vote like that coming up, you damn well sound out your MPs first and get an idea on what the support is like. That’s what the whips are for. You don’t just say “oh, never mind, let’s just run this one up the minaret and see who turns to face east” on a vote to go to war. (Among the people who didn’t bother turning up for the Syria vote: one of the Government whips. Amazing.)
It wouldn’t have been anything to be ashamed of if Cameron had simply said “the UK will continue to work for a diplomatic solution, and will continue to support the refugee population in Syria’s neighbours, but we are not prepared to commit militarily to Syria because reasons”. But going all out for a vote and losing is pratfall stuff.

S O
S O
January 10, 2014 1:00 pm

There’s not much of a German position on overseas military deployments. The successive governments kept them relatively low-profile and escalated in salami slicing style from a hospital in Cambodia to special forces AQ hunt and brigade-sized occupation in Afghanistan over the course of about 15 years.
There’s a steady popular majority against these overseas deployments, but politicians like to play these games and until few years ago they hoped to sell auxiliary troops in exchange for a permanent UNSC seat.

There’s no tough political fight over these overseas deployments because

(1) the constitutional court flat-out lied about the actual limits on Bundeswehr deployments (there’s no room for interpretation in that article, they made it all up)
http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_gg/englisch_gg.html#p0450
Art. 87a(2)

(2) The successive governments of (West) Germany since 1945 were all led by either CDU or SPD, the two biggest parties. Both have since backed the Afghanistan and other missions, and have been in governing coalitions with each other twice in recent years. This means they cannot really criticize the policies because they supported if not created them themselves.

(3) The anti-“militarized foreign policy” party of the 1990’s, the greens, became outright traitors of their cause in 1999 and their top pols are now the biggest backers of ISAF in Germany. I blame the hippies.
Seriously, hippies. Some of their 2000’s top pols had once travelled to India as backpacker-hippies in the 1970’s and came through 1970’s Afghanistan – the old colourful, folklore Afghanistan with great hospitality. That’s why they felt the urge to help those people.
It’s this crazy.

———
Now about perceptions of the more military-involved Germans:
The British were quite arrogant in the early 2000’s referring endlessly to their Malaya success and how they knew how to do these occupations right, almost mocking the aggressiveness of the Americans. Then they lost control of Basra and Helmand and suddenly nobody gave a s##t any more about their claims of competence.

————————————-

Now about German (in)competence in ISAF:
The Heer was smart enough to foresee that our pols would enlarge the German ISAF contribution and wisely chose to expand from Kabul only to the calm north, expecting a relatively calm job there. There wasn’t much they could do for the first years, as ROE were tight (soldiers even had to fear state attorney’s investigations of every firefight and casualty of either side). The Taliban returned slowly (the Afghan ‘partners’ weren’t exactly effective against hem, but rather focused on committing organized crimes) and finally there was an escalation. There was the infamous bombing incident, firefights, raids (including American reinforcements) and then it was quite suddenly silent again.
The silence was in part because of Taliban losses, but in part it was eerily limited to German troops; American ones were still attacked.
In other words: I’m quite sure our pols chickened out again and there’s now a protection money agreement similar to what the Italians did (Remember when the French deployed into a calm former Italian region and got ambushed? They hadn’t been told that the peace came from protection money the Italians had paid).
We should have leaved long ago. Nay, we should never have entered this stupidity.

Monkey-boi
Monkey-boi
January 10, 2014 2:13 pm

The last country on earth that can carry off a “Holier-than-thou” attitude is Germany.

Any Country that dismisses hard won knowledge Military knowledge from others or allies is foolish in the extreme. When the lessons come at a blood price, best to learn as much as possible (whether you use it or not!) because it may well save your own Countrymen’s blood.

Imagine if NATO had dismissed 1967 and 1973 Arab Israeli-Conflicts, what about the 1991 Gulf War? The works like “Achtung Panzer”….

Germany must be awfully lonely up in that Ivory Tower of self denial, arrogance and Moral turpitude.

Segelboot
Segelboot
January 10, 2014 4:37 pm

Besides S O’s explanations on german military deployments and its rationale (if there was ever any), it is sad to see that some commentators can’t stand to keep their nazi / third reich / germany-is-conquering-the-world- / arrogant-huns-s##t for themselves.

De Maiziere said so, because the Bundeswehr has come to its limits. If you would read the german newspapers (which I hope u don’t, to avoid gettin’ a green brainwash) you would for example know, that the german navy lacks the number of ships to cope with current missions. And the same is true for other branches of the military.

In the past it was germany who opened the wallet, when the NATO “Partners” had a war to fight. After the “reunification”, germany participated in military ops worldwide, and started to restructure its military for that purpose. The german politics, low on military knowledge and uninterested in defence matters, started sending the Bundeswehr to almost any NATO /UN / Humanitarian mission they could think of, and were asked for.

Now they realize, as I told u above, that they have stretched its capabilities to the limit. As new missions arise, e.g. Mali, Central African Republic, etc, they have to call a halt. Obviously, saying that you reached the end of the stick isn’t nice. It was just a way to bring UK and FR in the game.

BTW, the new clueless and therefore useless defense minister pointed out the “reliability/trustworthiness” of german military politics. That doesn’t mean she wants to roll to Moscow in a tank, it means germany will keep the current missions (as de Maiziere told about parliamentary ok’s), but there is no room for more.

Greez from G

Observer
Observer
January 10, 2014 4:40 pm

a, Obsvr isn’t me though in this case I agree with him.

Have you seen the intelligence estimate they prepared for the vote? It’s was joke and a waste of paper and trees, filled with all sorts of hedge words, which said absolutely nothing. No surprise in never passed, it was the equivalent of saying “close your eyes and open your mouth”. If the US wanted the UK with them, they should have either released more information or the UK should have demanded for more hard evidence rather than the wing and a prayer wishlist that was their brief. If the brief was underwear, it would have been a piece of string. Covered nothing and doesn’t serve its’ purpose.

Chris
Chris
January 10, 2014 5:16 pm

Segelboot – ref “nazi / third reich / germany-is-conquering-the-world-” etc. I shall try to speak on behalf of others here and hope I don’t misrepresent their views – in my view we do not hold modern Germany in any way to blame for the actions of 75 years ago. I know many Germans; they are funny and courteous and welcoming – good company all round. So no bitterness in what we write.

However, history exists. Some is glorious, some is embarrassing, some is appalling. But it doesn’t change or go away because we don’t like it. Nor (on this side of the Channel at least) does it become a crime to remember it or mention it.

So yes when the German Defence Minister takes a pop at the rest of Europe and proclaims loudly that Germany has more experience of foreign military interventions than anyone else, the immediate and obvious examples come from 1939. And so they should really – it is a truism that those who chose to ignore history are doomed to repeat it; for all our sakes I hope Germany takes pains never to replay the events of the early 1930s again.

Brian Black
Brian Black
January 10, 2014 6:26 pm

It’s incorrect to think that the Nazi era doesn’t remain as a backdrop to discussion on modern German deployments. It’s had a long-lasting effect on German society, and lingers long after it’s ceased to be relevant to other European countries – no one else in Europe gives a damn about Germany’s war history when it comes to their much needed participation in present day operations.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
January 10, 2014 8:41 pm

I largely agree with many of the comments above. Sensibly, Germany as a member of the UN with the clout of a nation in the G8 needs to step up. The war ended 69 years ago. It’s damn nearly 3 generations.

I also have huge personal love for Germany and Germans. I spent the majority of my childhood there as an Army brat, then served in Germany in the latter days of the Cold War as a young officer in BAOR and the post Gulf 1 Army. Some of my most golden memories are in or about my own experience of Germany.

(Although I did find screamingly funny the Clarkson / Top Gear spoof on making a TV advertisement for the VW Scirocco TDI. “From Berlin to Warsaw in one tank”)

Also had a nearly Mrs RT in the most jaw-droppingly beautiful daughter of the Head of Classics at Osnabruck University. 2 wonderful years, and the Trouserettes might have been bilingual German instead of Spanish if events played a little differently.

(Note to self: why are the English girls so dull that over 80% of my exes are rich, beautiful and speak English beautifully but with a sexy husky accent?)

S O
S O
January 10, 2014 9:12 pm

“leaved” – LOL.
I knew something was wrong when I typed it, but couldn’t figure out what at the time.
I suppose I read too much about interleaved running gears lately.

as
as
January 11, 2014 12:24 am
Obsvr
Obsvr
January 11, 2014 3:12 am

@SO
“The British were quite arrogant in the early 2000′s referring endlessly to their Malaya success and how they knew how to do these occupations right, almost mocking the aggressiveness of the Americans. Then they lost control of Basra and Helmand and suddenly nobody gave a s##t any more about their claims of competence.
Actually the last country that UK ‘occupied’ was Germany, it seems to have turned out OK.”

UK has had mostly success (ie a satisfactory political outcome) in post 1945 COIN, Palestine and S Aden being difficult ones, but in situations of announced withdrawals. Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus , NI all OK, Malayasia was not COIN (much more cunning) but a very good outcome.

Basra was tricky because UK had liberated the place and expected friendship and flowers, and in this situation was not willing to undertake serious COIN, merely try and hold the ring. Shooting the liberated is unBritish.

Afg is difficult because the proven COIN techniques cannot be fully applied. Eg guns are not restricted, this leads to complex ROE and tactically makes ambushing next to impossible. The Taliban live among the people, not is base camps, etc. This means it is not possible to achieve psychological ascendancy and seize the initiative by ambushing and aggressive patrolling where anyone armed can be treated as hostile on sight. It’s unclear how effective intelligence is at penetrating the Taliban. Except NI, the police special branches have been the masters of this and it is the key to COIN. I also suspect source handling is a bit tricky in Afg.

UK initially deployed into N Afg, it went well, there was not serious insurgent threat. They seem to have assumed that Helmand would be much the same. Unfortunately S Afg is Taliban heartland, forget not that Mullah Omar made his sacred pledge on the Prophet’s cloak in Kandahar.

I notice no response to my question about effort/casualty ratios. I’ll start the batting by noting that UK has had about three times the Australian casualty rate, and Aust forces are in Oruzgan immediately N of Helmand, part of the reason is that UK has a higher proportion of cbt elements in their force.

jon livesey
jon livesey
January 11, 2014 4:45 am

“Neither for that matter is failure of the UK government to get approval for action in Syria anything to be ashamed of. ”

I agree with that, and I am a bit bemused that people see it as some kind of UK embarrassment. Maybe I missed something, but after the UK voted down intervention in Syria, the US and France also backed off.

I’m not suggesting too much cause and effect there, but if they thought it was such a great idea to go into Syria, no-one was stopping them.

Intervention in Iraq and Libya is one thing, but Syria is an enormously complex problem with far too many mutually hostile participants for the result of intervention to be predictable.

Phil
January 11, 2014 9:19 am

The Taliban live among the people, not is base camps, etc. This means it is not possible to achieve psychological ascendancy and seize the initiative by ambushing and aggressive patrolling where anyone armed can be treated as hostile on sight. It’s unclear how effective intelligence is at penetrating the Taliban.

I think this misses the point by a country mile. There are no military solutions. Not being able to ambush the Taliban (you can if you know what you’re doing) will not be the reason Helmand fails if it does fail. The military is just one task stream in a myriad of others: it is an enabler and the entire effort should not be skewed to accomodate one part of a solution to the detriment of other parts of the solution. This was realised in 2009 and too many retarded comentators interpreted it as weakness and lack of military will rather than the common sense it is.

Also every time someone says something general about the “Taliban” my skin crawls. There are as you well know many types of Mr Taliban, most of which aren’t Taliban at all.

The true Taliban don’t live amongst the population in most cases – they tend to occupy certain compounds and areas and the locals will, if they feel safe enough, quite happily tell you which ones. Then you can do an advance to contact, kick a TIC off and then dump some GMLRS onto them. Satisfying, if a bit hairy.

The gangsters and pissed off farmers and those that put on a quick beirut unload at ISAF to hedge their bets if someone bad is watching them are the ones that live amongst the population and they are criminals or opportunists for which no military solution is possible. In these instance the military just provide one part of the solution to de-marginalise them.

These people are pragmatists. They’ll do whatever makes them safer. In that sense security forces have a role, but they cannot make people feel permanently safer, that is done by capacity building and political efforts.

Obsvr
Obsvr
January 12, 2014 7:36 am

Unless compounds are in splendid isolation with no neighbours for at least a few km then they are living among the people. Such locations are also convenient targets and I suspect generally avoided, although from an insurgent point of view there are pros and cons. It’s a bit like the insurgent tactic of keeping close to the enemy when the shooting starts because that inhibits the use superior firepower (and if musketry isn’t among the insurgents’ strengths also improves their chances of inflicting casualties). Not forgetting that terrain is a key aspect of all this.

Targeted ambushing based on very good and specific intelligence is not quite the same thing as establishing dominance by fairly speculative ambushing of any track or waterway that takes the local commander’s fancy in areas where it can be assumed that anyone armed is hostile.

All insurgencies involve people with a mix of motivations and enthusiasm for the cause and the opportunities it presents. The tricky bit is knowing who are the real problem, hitting those merely going with the flow to survive is not the way to win friends. Working out who is which is the challenge.

Phil
January 12, 2014 10:14 am

Unless compounds are in splendid isolation with no neighbours for at least a few km then they are living among the people

There’s a difference between occupying compounds as their own and diffusing their numbers amongst individual compounds. The Taliban are not the people and they don’t tend to live with the people because they often victimise or tax the people. They’d get their throats cut in the night, So they tend to stick together just like we do in compounds. Yes very often that might be right next door to some unfortunate farmer but it doesn’t mean they are diffused in the community. Some areas are hostile to ISAF for whatever reason, and it is the community itself that are enemies in that situation. But again that is different from saying Taliban.

The key to having an effective military effort as an adjunct to capacity building is acknowledging the granularity and complexity of the socio-economic terrain.

Everywhere is different, every village has a story, every landowner a grievance, every gang an enemy, every community a need or opportunity.

Targeted ambushing based on very good and specific intelligence is not quite the same thing as establishing dominance by fairly speculative ambushing of any track or waterway that takes the local commander’s fancy in areas where it can be assumed that anyone armed is hostile.

I don’t see the difference. The objective is to ambush the “Taliban”.. You say you can’t. I say you can if you know what you’re doing and then you say that’s not ambushing? Well dead is dead to me and if they die surprised that’s good enough as an ambush.

The tricky bit is knowing who are the real problem, hitting those merely going with the flow to survive is not the way to win friends. Working out who is which is the challenge.

Can’t argue with that and it follows from what I said above.

Observer
Observer
January 12, 2014 12:19 pm

Obsvr, I try not to argue against the man on the ground. :)

Phil is right on one thing though, the military is only a facet of the solution, most of the other areas are a rather black box to us due to lack of coverage. What companies have been encouraged to set up shop in Afghanistan? What changes to education (I remember the no-female education policies of the Taliban)? What measures were taken to get the Afghan people to see themselves as “One Nation”? Not the military housebuilding/bridgebuilding, but the non-military actions taken.

Do you know why Malaya was called an Emergency and not an insurrection or a war?