New Year Reception Marks New Beginnings: "Strengthening
Competence of Action"
By: Maximilian Voß; photographers: Katharina Junge; Laura Clayborn
"Changes often require some form of external encouragement." At the reception held within the Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr in Hamburg, the Commandant, Rear Admiral Stawitzki, began his welcoming speech by quoting General Scharnhorst, and proceeded to place the historical example of the Prussian military reformer at the center of his remarks regarding the future of this educational institution. Scharnhorst seized the opportunity of an epochal caesura to initiate ground-breaking reforms. Our world has changed yet again, and the Führungsakademie is called upon, now more than ever, to address and adapt to these changes in order to be able to prepare our future leaders for their tasks in the best way possible. The increased importance of the Command and Staff College has also been underlined by a recent transfer of authority: The Führungsakademie is now directly subordinate to the Chief of the Defence Staff.
State-of-the-art education and training
The further development of basic, advanced and follow-on training and instruction at the Führungsakademie will go hand in hand with a wide range of comprehensive transformations. The Admiral explained: "The fundamental idea is that we first need to understand an increasingly complex world on the political level and subsequently draw conclusions for the deployment of our armed forces." The Commandant has taken up the cause of implementing this idea at the Führungsakademie, considering it essential to constantly reappraise the educational program and keep it at the cutting edge.
"We question everything with unsparing honesty and dare to think the unthinkable," Stawitzki affirmed. He added: "Our future military leaders will face the challenges of the future. Therefore, we must provide them with professional skills and competence of action." The entire education and follow-on training concept of the Führungsakademie will be reviewed and re-organized in order to provide the students with the best possible preparation for their future assignments and to enhance flexibility in terms of thinking. "This rapidly changing world puts many demands on our soldiers even while they are still young," the Admiral explained. "There are no blueprints that will tell you how to tackle future security challenges. And this is precisely why our future leaders must be able to identify developments at an early stage and think through possible scenarios."
Stawitzki's motivation stems from the past: "Over the last 60 years, the Führungsakademie time and time again has addressed the challenges inherent to educational developments and thus made it to the top level. This is where our institution belongs and where it should remain." Admiral Stawitzki also shared his vision for the future of the Führungsakademie: "We will endeavor to be always up-to-date in terms of methodology and didactics as well as contents by offering an internationally recognized and future-oriented training in collaboration with other agencies and academic institutions."
The human factor
"I am delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the further development of the Führungsakademie," the Commandant told the audience. He is well aware, though, that all these plans can only be successfully implemented through "team work delivered by the great people who work here at our College". Accordingly, he expressed his gratitude to all members of the College staff, thanking them for their contributions, and made clear that he is looking with confidence to the coming months. He welcomed all those present as "friends of the Bundeswehr" and emphasized common interests because: "This year, it will be particularly important for us to realize what we have in common, to stand together and join forces to achieve our goals."
The New Year reception of the Bundeswehr in Hamburg offers a regular opportunity to look back on the past year. As patron of the event, Captain Michael Setzer, Commander of the Land Command Hamburg and Garrison Senior Officer, welcomed the numerous guests and representatives from politics, authorities and society on behalf of the 18 Bundeswehr agencies located in the Hanseatic City.
Soldiers hard at work in Hamburg
Captain Setzer's opening sentence cut right to the chase: "The past year was an eventful one and full of challenges." The refugee relief provided by the Bundeswehr during the last months also made an impact on the City agencies. "Within the scope of civil-military cooperation, our approx. 5,800 soldiers supported the emergency services and provided start-up assistance to the City agencies and organizations dealing with the large numbers of migrants," Setzer summarized.
Integration as an opportunity
This kind of commitment pays dividends. Some of the buildings that were used temporarily as refugee shelters have now been handed back to their original users. "However, the efforts to achieve integration must be continued!", he reminded the audience. Setzer considers controlled immigration to be "an opportunity for our country" which should be seized. These words were met with eager support, not only by Aydan Özoğuz. The Minister of State to the Federal Chancellor and Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration was only one of many high-ranking guests attending the event.
Working for peace
Another major event kept the Bundeswehr soldiers in Hamburg busy, too: They provided technical interdepartmental assistance during the meeting of OSCE foreign ministers in December. Setzer knows: "Peace cannot be taken for granted. Peace requires a lot of work, not only from us soldiers." He underlined the significance of the OSCE as an important forum for intergovernmental talks and cautioned: "These talks must be kept alive."
Collaboration will continue to be important
Looking to the future, Setzer declared that "modernization and transformation will be the key topics for the new year". Current developments with regard to the security situation are leading to both a strategic reorientation of the armed forces and a reprioritization of national and Alliance defense. "In the future, Germany will be called upon to make a greater contribution to crisis management," he concluded. After a long period of reductions in the Bundeswehr, a trend reversal in the areas of personnel, equipment and financing is now creating the necessary foundation for tackling this task. According to Setzer, the collaboration between the different agencies and the commitment of reservists and civilian partners are additional important elements in this respect. The Commander of the Land Command concluded his speech by thanking all of them: "My special thanks go to all of you. And I want to assure you that we will continue to be at your disposal if you need us as a partner."
Setting a good example
The a capella band "Die Anker" of the Helmut Schmidt University accompanied the program, providing an appealing musical background for the event and inspiring Admiral Stawitzki to draw an apt comparison: "The performance of this band symbolizes the strong ties between the educational institutions of the Bundeswehr in the east and in the west of the City of Hamburg." And this was not the only vivid example of active collaboration between the different agencies, demonstrating just how true cooperation can work.