Autor: Inka von Puttkamer ; Fotos: Katharina Junge
General Wieker: "Security has its cost''"
Admiral Carsten Stawitzki during his opening remarks
Two high-ranking officers ready for action
General Volker Wieker, Chief of the German Defense Staff, had come to the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College to hold a lecture to Germany's future general/admiral staff officers and to exchange views and have personal talks with them. Speaking in front of the participants of the Field Officer Basic Course (FOBC) and the "Fundamentals of Operational Command and Control and Planning" Seminar, the German Armed Forces' highest-ranking soldier encouraged the officers to be "frank and open". Over the years, his annual visits to the FOBC have become a good tradition and although it is a "challenge to reach everyone in the Bundeswehr with the messages we consider so important", he enjoys these visits very much.
Clear and Direct Questions
In these eventful times, General Wieker places particular importance on personal talks. And the young officers, who have just embarked upon their path as career personnel, take him at his word. They ask questions that are personal, controversial and provocative and deal with everything currently discussed in the Bundeswehr: the high level of operational stress, current discussions in the media about the troops, questions regarding issues such as personnel, materiel and budget but also questions about internal communication and procurement projects.
General Wieker answers candidly, and he encounters great open-mindedness and honesty on the side of the students—for instance from a company commander from Donauwörth who shares her personal experiences with him and the other students. This requires trust, and indeed, there is trust on both sides. The general's answers clearly show how he defines his role as a mediator between the soldiers and the political leadership at the Federal Ministry of Defense. "Our common aim is always in the foreground", the general says.
He underlines the positive developments of the last legislative period and in this context mentions not only the significant budget increase and the raise in the number of personnel but also effective advertisement measures and Germany's participation in the set-up of NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force. This leads him on to the security situation Germany is facing currently. "Security has its cost", he explains and after listing a variety of examples reaching from the Crimea Crisis to the stationing of NATO troops in the Baltic states, he explains that Germany is considered a reliable and responsible partner in Europe. The international community has expectations with regard to Germany as a middle power. National and alliance defense have come into focus again, General Wieker explains and also points to the presentation of the results of the National General/Admiral Staff Officer Course on the topic "Defining National and Alliance Defense Anew".
At the end, the students ask the general what central message they should take home from the FOBC. With a view to the course's new format which is competence-oriented training without a final examination, his answer is that the restructured course is aimed at taking advantage of the overall personality of each student and at unfolding his or her talents (click here for more information on competence-oriented training). There is no doubt that there is currently a great need for talks between all hierarchic levels of the Bundeswehr. According to General Wieker, it "takes time for the new developments to take effect" and he stresses that "all personnel working in the Bundeswehr must travel this road together to be successful." Despite his very busy schedule, the topic of communication is on top of his priority list. He states: "I'd rather stick to speaking with each other than talk about each other." Given this motto, the next FOBC can also look forward to hearing honest and unfiltered words of its highest-ranking superior in the late summer months.