Author: Christiane Rodenbücher; Photos: Katharina Junge
Hamburg, 09 June 2017
Brigadier General Thomas Hambach during his farewell speech
Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Carsten Stawitzki with Brigadier General Hambach, outgoing Director of Academic Programs, and Jörn Thießen, his interim successor
Musicians from the Naval Band Kiel provided an adequate musical setting
Brigadier General Hambach and his wife during the reception
Invited guests in the rotunda during the farewell ceremony
Jörn Thießen, interim Director of Academic Programs
"Demanding and challenging"— this is how Brigadier General Thomas Hambach describes the past years. Three years ago, he was assigned the position of Director of Academic Programs at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College. "To be allowed to think about what we should teach our future field-grade officers and general/admiral staff officers given the fact that we cannot foresee future developments and to think about how we can teach all this in the best possible way"—for General Hambach, this has always been a very enriching experience. He is sad to leave Hamburg but he is also looking forward to his new assignment as Deputy Commander, Bundeswehr Logistics Command in Erfurt. For the time being, the acting Director of Academic Programs is Jörn Thießen, Head of the Political and Social Sciences Department.
During a solemn ceremony, the Commandant of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, Rear Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, thanked General Hambach for his great commitment and meaningful contributions to the training institution emphasizing his personal and sensitive approach to all subject matters. With high-ranking guest from politics, the economy and the society but also from different fields of the armed forces, altogether 150 people participated in the farewell ceremony.
Thanks to all Staff Members
In his speech, the general quoted Confucius to express the pleasure he felt every day of his assignment at the college: "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." He emphasized that he felt this pleasure only because of the professional support from all soldiers and staff members thanking them with the words: "I wasn't given the choice but it is essentially thanks to you all that I felt so much pleasure and gratitude in serving at this college."
Added Value in Training and Education
Aside from imparting pure theory and practice, General Hambach always considered it important to create an added value for the students during their training and education at the BwCSC. In our modern, often very challenging and volatile time, it has been his major concern to share his personal experiences with his students so that our leaders of tomorrow are well prepared for the future.
Using the three words "ability", "willingness" and "permission," he made clear what kind of added value the training and education at the BwCSC is to create for the students: "Ability" stands for the military leaders' capability to act in any given situation. "Willingness" stands for the leaders' willingness to act and for their will to constantly develop their personality. The aspect of "permission" complements the other two aspects: Only if we manage to constantly provide an adequate framework here at the college, our officers can put their personal understanding of command and control to the test.
Encouraging Error Management
Within the scope of training and education, committing errors is quite a natural thing, General Hambach explained adding that the BwCSC is "the perfect place for such an experience." With this principle, the general complemented his description of the BwCSC's training objective to the shaping of which he contributed so much during his assignment as Director of Academic Programs. He also touched an aspect that still is of great importance to him and that from his point of view, puts the demands made particularly on general/admiral staff officers in a nutshell: How can we convey leadership skills that represent our unique concept of Leadership Development and Civic Education, in German known as "Innere Führung"?
Creativity and Responsibility
"To express one's own intent in such a fashion that there is still leeway for the necessary creativity and imagination" is a challenge General Hambach has known very well and he has always strived to convey this aspect to the students at the BwCSC. "Delegating responsibility but also taking on responsibility. Trusting others but also earning the trust of others. Both aspects represent two sides of the same coin." During his speech, the general did not only look back to the past but also focused on the current tasks and challenges the college is facing. In this context, he mentioned particularly challenging and volatile conditions and reminded the audience of the fact that change always takes time.
Criticism and Abundance of Ideas
"Carrying out the assignment as Director of Academic Programs was sometimes more and sometimes less easy. Leaving the job, however, is quite hard for me," the general explained. "[T]hat I enjoyed my time at the college as I did is essentially due to the staff of the college, the heads of department, the lecturers and the many reservists. I am very grateful for how I was received at this college and for the openness and particularly for the trust, criticism and advice I was given and for everyone's commitment and abundance of ideas.“
"Not an Easy Task"
In his words to General Hambach, Admiral Stawitzki pointed out that during the general's time at the BwCSC, 200,000 classes were given by 100 lecturers and more than 500 guest lecturers to soldiers from more than 100 nations. The admiral continued: "Let me express my sincere gratitude for your work and commitment and for the fact that you have carried out this challenging assignment with all your heart and mind and with a great deal of sensitivity." The commandant appreciated the general's "set of skills and tools," his elaborate methods, his critical stance and his constructive cooperation. "You have initiated and promoted all this—thank you very much for your efforts." Musicians from the Naval Band Kiel headed by Commander Szepanski provided a worthy setting for the farewell ceremony. They played pieces in minor and major keys emphasizing both the melancholy aspects of saying farewell and the cheerful moments of the past years but also reflecting the joyful anticipation of the new assignment.