Bundeswehr (German: [ˈbʊndəsˌveːɐ̯] ( listen),
Federal Defence) is the unified armed forces of
Germany and their
civil administration and procurement authorities. The States of
Germany are not allowed to maintain armed forces of their own, since
the German Constitution states that matters of defense fall into the
sole responsibility of the federal government.
Bundeswehr is divided into a military part (armed forces or
Streitkräfte) and a civil part with the armed forces administration
(Wehrverwaltung). The military part of the federal defense force
consists of the German Army, the German Navy, the German Air Force,
the Joint Support Service, the Joint Medical Service, and the Cyber
and Information Space Command.
As of 28 February 2018[update], the
Bundeswehr has a
strength of 179,753 active soldiers, placing it among the 30
largest military forces in the world and making it the second largest
European Union behind France in terms of personnel. In
Bundeswehr has approximately 27,900 reserve personnel
(2017). With German military expenditures at
€38.5 billion, the
Bundeswehr is among the top ten
best-funded forces in the world, even if in terms of share of German
GDP, military expenditures remain average at 1.13% and below the NATO
target of 2%.
Germany aims to expand the
Bundeswehr to around
198,000 soldiers by 2024 to better cope with increasing
1.1 Founding principles
Cold War 1955–1990
1.3 German Reunification 1990
1.5 Coordination with European Partners
2 Command organisation
4.4 Rank structure
6 See also
8 Further reading
9 External links
Main article: Military history of Germany
Bundeswehr was first proposed by the former
and Liberal politician Hasso von Manteuffel. The
Iron Cross (Eisernes
Kreuz) is its official emblem. It is a symbol that has a long
association with the military of Germany. The Schwarzes Kreuz is
derived from the black cross insignia of the medieval Teutonic
knights; since 1813 the symbol has been used to denote a military
decoration for all ranks.
Bundeswehr was established in 1955, its founding principles
were based on developing a completely new military force for the
defence of West Germany. In this respect the
Bundeswehr did not
consider itself to be a successor to either the Reichswehr
(1921–1935) of the
Weimar Republic or Hitler's Wehrmacht
(1935–1946). Neither does it adhere to the traditions of any former
German military organization. Its official ethos is based on three
the aims of the military reformers at the beginning of the 19th
century such as Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Clausewitz
the conduct displayed by members of the military resistance against
Adolf Hitler, especially the attempt of
Claus von Stauffenberg
Claus von Stauffenberg and
Henning von Tresckow
Henning von Tresckow to assassinate him.
its own tradition since 1955.
Großer Zapfenstreich at
Ramstein Air Base
Ramstein Air Base in 2002.
One of the most visible traditions of the modern
Bundeswehr is the
Großer Zapfenstreich; this is a form of military tattoo that has its
origins in the landsknecht era. The FRG reinstated this formal
military ceremony in 1952, three years before the foundation of the
Bundeswehr. Today it is performed by a military band with 4 fanfare
trumpeters and timpani, a corps of drums, up to two escort companies
of the Bundeswehr's
Wachbataillon (or another deputized unit) and
Torchbearers. The Zapfenstreich is only performed during national
celebrations or solemn public commemorations. It can honour
distinguished persons present such as the German federal president or
provide the conclusion to large military exercises.
Another important tradition in the modern German armed forces is the
Gelöbnis; the solemn oath made by conscripts (until 2011) now
recruits during basic training and serving professional soldiers.
There are two kinds of oath: for conscripts/recruits it is a pledge
but it's a solemn vow for full-time personnel.
The pledge is made annually on 20 July, the date on which a group of
Wehrmacht officers attempted to assassinate
Adolf Hitler in 1944.
Recruits from the Bundeswehr's
Wachbataillon make their vow
(Gelöbnis) at the
Bendlerblock in Berlin. This was the headquarters
of the resistance but also where the officers were summarily executed
following its failure. National commemorations are held nearby within
the grounds of the Reichstag. Similar events also take place across
the German Republic. Since 2011 (when conscription was placed in
abeyance within the Bundesrepublik Deutschland), the wording of the
ceremonial vow for full-time recruits and volunteer personnel is:
"Ich gelobe, der Bundesrepublik Deutschland treu zu dienen und das
Recht und die Freiheit des deutschen Volkes tapfer zu verteidigen."
"I pledge to serve the Federal Republic of
Germany loyally and to
defend the right and the freedom of the German people bravely."
Bundeswehr personnel replace "Ich gelobe, ..." with "Ich
schwöre, ..." ("I vow to...").
Cold War 1955–1990
The Federal Republic of
NATO in 1955.
World War II
World War II the responsibility for the security of
Germany as a
whole rested with the four Allied Powers: the United States, the
United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union.
Germany had been without
armed forces since the
Wehrmacht was dissolved following World War II.
When the Federal Republic of
Germany was founded in 1949, it was
without a military.
Germany remained completely demilitarized and any
plans for a German military were forbidden by Allied regulations. Only
some naval mine-sweeping units continued to exist, but they remained
unarmed and under Allied control and did not serve as a national
defence force. Even the Federal Border Protection Force, a mobile,
lightly armed police force of 10,000 men, was only formed in 1951. A
proposal to integrate West German troops with soldiers of France,
Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy in a European Defence
Community was proposed but never implemented.
There was a discussion among the United States, the United Kingdom and
France over the issue of a revived (West) German military. In
particular, France was reluctant to allow
Germany to rearm in light of
recent history (
Germany had invaded France twice in living memory, in
World War I
World War I and World War II, and also defeated France in the
Franco-German War of 1870/71; (see also French–German enmity)).
However, after the project for a
European Defence Community
European Defence Community failed in
the French National Assembly in 1954, France agreed to West German
NATO and rearmament.
Leopard 2 tanks
With growing tensions between the
Soviet Union and the West,
especially after the Korean War, this policy was to be revised. While
German Democratic Republic
German Democratic Republic (East Germany) was already secretly
rearming, the seeds of a new West German force started in 1950 when
former high-ranking German officers were tasked by Chancellor Konrad
Adenauer to discuss the options for West German rearmament. The
results of a meeting in the monastery of Himmerod formed the
conceptual base to build the new armed forces in West Germany. The Amt
Blank (Blank Agency, named after its director Theodor Blank), the
predecessor of the later Federal Ministry of Defence, was formed the
same year to prepare the establishment of the future forces. Hasso von
Manteuffel, a former general of the
Wehrmacht and liberal politician,
submitted the name
Bundeswehr for the new forces. This name was later
confirmed by the West German Bundestag.
Bundeswehr was officially established on the 200th birthday of
Scharnhorst on 12 November 1955. In personnel and education terms, the
most important initial feature of the new German armed forces was to
be their orientation as citizen defenders of a democratic state, fully
subordinate to the political leadership of the country. A
personnel screening committee was created to make sure that the future
colonels and generals of the armed forces were those whose political
attitude and experience would be acceptable to the new democratic
state. There were a few key reformers, such as General Ulrich de
Maiziere, General Graf von Kielmansegg, and Graf von Baudissin,
who reemphasised some of the more democratic parts of Germany's armed
forces history in order to establish a solid civil-military basis to
Bundeswehr was the first
NATO member to use the Soviet-built MiG
29 jet, taken over from the former East
German Air Force
German Air Force after
After an amendment of the Basic Law in 1955, West
Germany became a
member of NATO. The first public military review took place at
Andernach, in January 1956. A US Military Assistance Advisory
Group (MAAG) helped with the introduction of the Bundeswehr's initial
equipment and war material, predominantly of American origin.[citation
needed] In 1956, conscription for all men between the ages of 18 and
45 was reintroduced, later augmented by a civil alternative with
longer duration (see
Conscription in Germany). In response, East
Germany formed its own military force, the
Nationale Volksarmee (NVA),
in 1956, with conscription being established only in 1962. The
Nationale Volksarmee was eventually dissolved with the reunification
Germany in 1990. Compulsory conscription was suspended – but not
completely abolished as an alternative – in January 2011.
Cold War the
Bundeswehr was the backbone of NATO's
conventional defence in Central Europe. It had a strength of 495,000
military and 170,000 civilian personnel. Although
Germany had smaller
armed forces than France and the United States,
Cold War Historian
John Lewis Gaddis
John Lewis Gaddis assesses the
Bundeswehr as "perhaps world's best
army". The Army consisted of three corps with 12 divisions, most
of them heavily armed with tanks and APCs. The Luftwaffe owned
significant numbers of tactical combat aircraft and took part in
NATO's integrated air defence (NATINAD). The Navy was tasked and
equipped to defend the Baltic Approaches, to provide escort
reinforcement and resupply shipping in the
North Sea and to contain
the Soviet Baltic Fleet.
During this time the
Bundeswehr did not take part in combat
operations. However, there were a number of large-scale training and
operational casualties. The first such incident was in June 1957, when
15 paratroop recruits were drowned in the Iller river, Bavaria.
German Reunification 1990
At the time of reunification, the German military boasted a manpower
of some 585,000 soldiers. As part of the German reunification
process, under the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to
Germany (Two-Plus Four Treaty), which paved the way for reunification,
Bundeswehr was to be reduced to 370,000 personnel, of whom no more
than 345,000 were to be in the Army and Air Force. This would be
Germany's contribution to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in
Europe, and the restrictions would enter into force at the time the
CFE treaty would. As a result, the
Bundeswehr was significantly
reduced, and the former East German
Nationale Volksarmee (NVA) was
disbanded, with a portion of its personnel and material being absorbed
into the Bundeswehr.
Eurofighter Typhoon of the Luftwaffe.
About 50,000 Volksarmee personnel were integrated into the Bundeswehr
on 2 October 1990. This figure was rapidly reduced as conscripts and
short-term volunteers completed their service. A number of senior
officers (but no generals or admirals) received limited contracts for
up to two years to continue daily operations. Personnel remaining in
Bundeswehr were awarded new contracts and new ranks, dependent on
their individual qualification and experience. Many were granted and
accepted a lower rank than previously held in the Volksarmee.
In general, the unification process of the two militaries – under
the slogan "Armee der Einheit" (or "Army of Unity") – has been seen
publicly as a major success and an example for other parts of the
With the reduction, a large amount of the military hardware of the
Bundeswehr, as well as of the Volksarmee, had to be disposed of. Most
of the armoured vehicles and fighter jet aircraft (the Bundesluftwaffe
– due to reunification – was the only air force in the world that
flew both Phantoms and MIGs) were dismantled under international
disarmament procedures. Many ships were scrapped or sold, often to the
Baltic states or
Indonesia (the latter received 39 former Volksmarine
vessels of various types).
With reunification, all restrictions on the manufacture and possession
of conventional arms that had been imposed on the
Bundeswehr as a
condition for West German rearmament were lifted.
Germany also has its own
Special Forces, the Kommando
Special Forces Command). It was formed after German
citizens had to be rescued in Rwanda by Belgian Para-Commandos as the
Special Commands of the Federal Police were not capable of operating
in a war zone.
A major event for the German military was the suspension of the
compulsory conscription for men in 2011. In 2011/12, a major reform of
Bundeswehr was announced, further limiting the number of military
bases and soldiers. The last reform set a required strength of
185,000 soldiers. As of 31 December 2017[update], the
number of active military personnel in the
Bundeswehr was down to
179,753, corresponding to a ratio of 2.2 active soldiers per 1,000
inhabitants. Military expenditure in
Germany was at
€37 billion in 2017, corresponding to 1.2% of GDP. 3,584
German military expenditures are lower than comparable countries of
European Union such as France and the United Kingdom, especially
when taking into account Germany's larger population and economy. This
discrepancy is often criticized by Germany's military allies,
especially the United States.
In September 2014, the
Bundeswehr acknowledged chronic equipment
problems that rendered its armed forces "unable to deliver its
NATO promises". Among the problems cited were dysfunctional
weapons systems, armored vehicles, aircraft, and naval vessels unfit
for immediate service due to a neglect of maintenance, and serious
equipment and spare parts shortages. The situation was so dire that it
was acknowledged that most of Germany's fighter aircraft and combat
helicopters were not in deployable condition.
In 2015, as a result of serious NATO-Russian tensions in Europe,
Germany announced a major increase in defense spending. In May 2015,
the German government approved an increase in defense spending, at the
time 1.3% of GDP, by 6.2% over the following five years, allowing the
Ministry of Defense to fully modernize the army. Plans were also
announced to significantly expand the tank fleet to a potential number
of 328, order 131 more Boxer armored personnel carriers, increase the
submarine fleet, and to develop a new fighter jet to replace the
Germany considered increasing the size of the
army, and in May 2016 it announced it would spend
€130 billion on new equipment by 2030 and add nearly 7,000
soldiers by 2023 in the first German military expansion since the end
of the Cold War. In February 2017, the German government
announced another expansion, which would increase the number of its
professional soldiers by 20,000 by 2024.
Coordination with European Partners
Bundeswehr is to play a greater role as "anchor army" for smaller
NATO states, by improving coordination between its divisions and
Brigades . A further proposal, by Minister of
Defence von der Leyen, to allow non-German EU nationals to join the
Bundeswehr, has been met by strong opposition, even from her own
As a consequence of improved Dutch-German cooperation, 2 of 3 Royal
Brigades are now under German Command. In 2014, the
11th Airmobile Brigade was integrated into the German Division of fast
forces (DSK). The Dutch 43rd Mechanized Brigade will be assigned to
1st Panzer Division (Bundeswehr)
1st Panzer Division (Bundeswehr) of the German army, with the
integration starting at the beginning of 2016, and the unit becoming
operational at the end of 2019. Also, the Seebatallion of the German
Navy will start operating under Royal Dutch Navy command until 2018.
The Dutch-German military cooperation is seen as an example for
setting up a European defense union.
Also the Czech Republic's 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade, and Romania's
81st Mechanized Brigade, will be integrated into Germany's 10 Armoured
Division and Rapid Response Forces Division.
Civil Emblem of the Bundeswehr
Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen
With the growing number of missions abroad it was recognized that the
Bundeswehr required a new command structure. A reform commission under
the chairmanship of the former President Richard von Weizsäcker
presented its recommendations in spring 2000.
In October 2000 the Joint Support Service, the Streitkräftebasis, was
established to concentrate logistics and other supporting functions
such as military police, supply and communications under one command.
Medical support was reorganised with the establishment of the Joint
Medical Service. In 2016, the
Bundeswehr created its youngest branch
the Cyber and Information Space Command.
The combat forces of the Army are organised into three combat
divisions and participate in multi-national command structures at the
corps level. The Air Force maintains three divisions and the Navy is
structured into two flotillas. The Joint Support Service and the Joint
Medical Service are both organized in four regional commands of
identical structure. All of these services also have general commands
for training, procurement, and other general issues.
German Navy Frigate
The minister of defence or the chancellor is supported by the Chief of
Defense (CHOD, Generalinspekteur) and the service chiefs (Inspekteure:
Inspector of the Army, Inspector of the Air Force, Inspector of the
Navy) and their respective staffs in his or her function as
commander-in-chief. The CHOD and the service chiefs form the Military
Command Council (Militärischer Führungsrat) with functions similar
to those of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff
Joint Chiefs of Staff in the United States.
Subordinate to the CHOD is the Armed Forces Operational Command
(Einsatzführungskommando). For smaller missions one of the service
HQs (e.g. the Fleet Command) may exercise command and control of
forces in missions abroad. The
Bundestag must approve any foreign
deployment by a simple majority. This has led to some discontent with
Germany's allies about troop deployments e.g. in
parliamentary consent over such issues is relatively hard to achieve
German Army soldiers in
Afghanistan (2009) in front of Dingo infantry
The role of the
Bundeswehr is described in the Constitution of Germany
(Art. 87a) as absolutely defensive only. Its only active role before
1990 was the Katastropheneinsatz (disaster control). Within the
Bundeswehr, it helped after natural disasters both in
abroad. After 1990, the international situation changed from East-West
confrontation to one of general uncertainty and instability.
Today, after a ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court in 1994 the
term "defence" has been defined to not only include protection of the
borders of Germany, but also crisis reaction and conflict prevention,
or more broadly as guarding the security of
Germany anywhere in the
world. According to the definition given by former Defence
Minister Struck, it may be necessary to defend
Germany even at the
Hindu Kush. This requires the
Bundeswehr to take part in operations
outside of the borders of Germany, as part of
NATO or the European
Union and mandated by the UN.
Since the early 1990s the
Bundeswehr has become more and more engaged
in international operations in and around the former Yugoslavia, and
also in other parts of the world like
Cambodia or Somalia. After the
11 September 2001 attacks, German forces were employed in most related
theaters except Iraq.
Bundeswehr current international operations
Frigate Karlsruhe of the
German Navy rescuing shipwrecked people off
the coast of
Somalia where it is patrolling
Currently (26 March 2018) there are
Bundeswehr forces in:
Resolute Support Mission
(mandate limit: 1,300)
(mandate limit: 800)
(mandate limit: 50)
(mandate limit: 50)
(mandate limit: 300)
(mandate limit: 300)
Mali / Senegal
(mandate limit: 1,000)
Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa / Indian Ocean
(mandate limit: 600)
(mandate limit: 20)
Operation Sea Guardian
(mandate limit: 650)
(mandate limit: 950)
(Operation Counter Daesh)
(mandate limit: 800)
Peshmerga training in northern Iraq
(mandate limit: 150)
(mandate limit: 20)
In addition to the numbers above, 42 soldiers are on permanent
stand-by for medical evacuation operations around the world in
assistance of ongoing German or coalition operations
In support of Allied stabilization efforts in Iraq, the
also training the new Iraqi forces in locations outside Iraq, such as
United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates and Germany.
Since 1994, the
Bundeswehr has lost about 100 troops in foreign
deployments. See also: German Armed Forces casualties in Afghanistan.
Further information: List of modern equipment of the German Army,
Aircraft Inventory of the German Luftwaffe, and List of active ships
of the German Navy
According to the new threat scenario facing
Germany and its NATO
Bundeswehr is currently reorganising itself. To realise
growth in mobility and the enlargement of the air force's
Bundeswehr is going to buy 53
transports as well as 140
Eurofighter Typhoon fighters and also
several unmanned aerial vehicle models. 57 Eurocopter Tiger, 100 NH90
(18 of them in the naval version) and 15 special forces helicopters
are being delivered. For the ground forces it plans to produce 350
Puma infantry fighting vehicle, at least 400 Boxer MRAV, started to
introduce a novel land soldier system and a new generation of
transportation vehicles and light vehicles, such as the Fennek, and
KMW Grizzly. Further, the
German Navy is going to build 4 new F125
class frigates, 6 new multi-role combat ships (dubbed MKS 180) and 6
Type 212 submarines.
German Army signallers in service uniforms.
The service uniform is theoretically the standard type of Bundeswehr
uniform for general duty and off-post activity, but is most
associated, however, with ceremonial occasions. The army's service
uniform consists of a light gray, single-breasted coat and darker grey
trousers, worn with a light blue shirt, black tie, and black shoes.
The peaked, visored cap has been replaced by the beret as the most
common form of headgear. Dress uniforms featuring dinner jackets or
double-breasted coats are worn by officers for various social
occasions. The battle and work uniform consists of Flecktarn
camouflage fatigues, which are also worn on field duty. In practice,
they are also used for general duty and off-post at least at barracks
where there is also field duty even by others, and for the way home or
to the post, and generally regarded as the Heer uniform. In all
three services, light sand-coloured uniforms are available for duty in
warmer climates. In 2016 a new Multitarn pattern was launched, similar
MultiCam uniforms of the
British Army or US Army.
A different, traditional variety of the service uniform is worn by the
Gebirgsjäger (mountain infantry), consisting of ski jacket, stretch
trousers, and ski boots. Instead of the beret, they wear the grey
"mountain cap". (see here for details.) The field uniform is the same,
except for the (optional) metal
Edelweiss worn on the forage cap.
A German infantryman stands at the ready with his Heckler & Koch
G36 during a practice exercise in 2004. US troops watch in the
background. All rifles in the photo are equipped with blank firing
The traditional arm-of-service colours appear as lapel facings and as
piping on shoulder straps. Generals wear an inner piping of gold
braid; other officers wear silver piping. Lapel facings and piping are
maroon for general staff, green for infantry, red for artillery, pink
for armour, black for engineers, yellow for communications, dark
yellow for reconnaissance and various other colors for the remaining
branches. Combat troops wear green (infantry), black (armour), or
maroon (airborne) berets. Logistics troops and combat support troops,
such as artillery or engineers, wear red berets. A gold or silver
badge on the beret denotes the individual branch of service.
The naval forces wear the traditional navy blue, double-breasted coat
and trousers; enlisted personnel wear either a white shirt or a navy
blue shirt with the traditional navy collar. White uniforms provide an
alternative for summer. The officer's dress cap is mounted with a gold
anchor surrounded by a wreath. The visor of the admiral's cap bears a
double row of oak leaves.
The air force service uniform consists of a blue jacket and trousers
with a light blue shirt, dark blue tie, and black shoes. Olive battle
dress similar to the army fatigue uniform is worn in basic training
and during other field duty. Flying personnel wear wings on their
right breast. Other air force personnel wear a modified wing device
with a symbol in its centre denoting service specialisation. These
Tätigkeitsabzeichen come in bronze, silver, or gold, depending on
one's length of service in the specialty. Wings, superimposed over a
wreath, in gold, silver, or bronze, depending on rank, are also worn
on the service or field cap.
Main article: Command and obedience in the Bundeswehr
Service Uniform Army (Heer)
In general, officer ranks are those used in the Prussian and pre-1945
German armies. Officer rank insignia are worn on shoulder straps or
shoulder boards. Army (Heer) and air force (Luftwaffe) junior
officers' insignia are four pointed silver stars while field grade
officers wear silver (black or white on camouflage uniforms) stars and
an oak wreath around the lowest star. The stars and wreath are gold
for general officers. In the case of naval (Marine) officers, rank is
indicated by gold stripes on the lower sleeve of the blue service
jacket and on shoulder boards of the white uniform.
Soldier and NCO ranks are similar to those of the Prussian and
pre-1945 German armies. In the army and air force, a Gefreiter
corresponds to the
NATO rank OR-2 and
Hauptgefreiter to OR-3. An
Unteroffizier is the lowest-ranking sergeant (OR-5), followed by
Stabsfeldwebel (OR-9) and Oberstabsfeldwebel.
Ranks of army and air force enlisted personnel are designated by
stripes, chevrons, and "sword knots" worn on rank slides. Naval
enlisted rank designations are worn on the upper (OR 1–5) or lower
(OR-6 and above) sleeve along with a symbol based on an anchor for the
service specialization (rating). Army and air force officer candidates
hold the separate ranks of Fahnenjunker,
Fähnrich and Oberfähnrich,
and wear the appropriate rank insignia plus a silver cord bound around
it. Officers candidates in the navy
Seekadett (sea cadet; equivalent
to OR-4) and
Fähnrich zur See (midshipman second class; OR-5) wear
the rank insignia of the respective enlisted ranks but with a gold
star instead of the rating symbol, while an
Oberfähnrich zur See
(midshipman first class; OR-7) wears an officer type thin rank stripe.
Medical personnel of all three services wear a version of the
traditional caduceus (staff with entwined serpents) on their shoulder
straps or sleeve. The officers' ranks have own designations differing
from the line officers, the rank insignias however are basically the
Ulrike Flender, the first female combat pilot in the unified German
Women have served in the medical service since 1975. From 1993 they
were also allowed to serve as enlisted personnel and non-commissioned
officers in the medical service and the army bands. In 2000, in a
lawsuit brought up by Tanja Kreil, the European Court of Justice
issued a ruling allowing women to serve in more roles than previously
allowed. Since 2001 they can serve in all functions of service without
restriction, but they are not subject to conscription. There are
presently around 19,064 women on active duty and a number of female
reservists who take part in all duties including peacekeeping missions
and other operations. In 1994,
Verena von Weymarn became Generalarzt
der Luftwaffe ("Surgeon General of the Air Force"), the first woman
ever to reach the rank of general in the armed forces of Germany.
For women, lower physical performance requirements are required in the
basic fitness test, which must be completed at the time of recruitment
and later on annually. The sex surcharge for the sprint test and the
1,000m run is 15%, for chin-up 40%.
Bundeswehr rank insignia
Army and Air Force
Schütze/Flieger or equivalent rank – Private/Airman
Aircraftman or equivalent rank
Gefreiter – Private/Airman E2
Gefreiter-UA – Private/Airman E2 – NCO Candidate
Gefreiter-FA – Private/Airman E2 – NCO Candidate (Staff
Gefreiter-OA – Private/Airman E2 – Officer Candidate
Obergefreiter – Private First Class / Airman First Class
Lance Corporal / Senior Airman
Stabsgefreiter – Corporal
Oberstabsgefreiter – Specialist / Master Corporal
Unteroffizier – Lance sergeant
Unteroffizier-FA – Lance-
Sergeant – Candidate Staff Sergeant
Stabsunteroffizier – Sergeant
Feldwebel – Staff
Sergeant / Flight Sergeant
Oberfeldwebel – Technical or Tech
Sergeant / Flight Sergeant
Hauptfeldwebel – Master
Sergeant First Class
Stabsfeldwebel – Senior Master
Sergeant / Quartermaster Sergeant
Oberstabsfeldwebel – Chief Master
Fahnenjunker – Cadet / Officer Candidate (with the rank of Lance
Fähnrich – Ensign (with the rank of Staff Sergeant)
Oberfähnrich – Senior Ensign (with the rank of
General Wolfgang Schneiderhan
Leutnant – 2nd Lieutenant
Oberleutnant – 1st Lieutenant/Lieutenant
Hauptmann – Captain (OF-2)
Stabshauptmann – Senior Captain
Oberstleutnant – Lieutenant Colonel
Oberst – Colonel
Generalmajor – Major General
Generalleutnant – Lieutenant General
Seaman Apprentice E2
Seaman Apprentice E2 – Petty Officer Candidate
Seaman Apprentice E2 – Chief Petty Officer
Seaman Apprentice E2 – Officer Candidate
Obergefreiter – Seaman
Hauptgefreiter – Able Seaman
Stabsgefreiter – Leading Seaman
Oberstabsgefreiter – Master Seaman
Maat – Petty Officer 3rd Class
Petty Officer 3rd Class
Petty Officer 3rd Class – Probationary Petty Officer 1st
Obermaat – Petty Officer 2nd Class
Bootsmann – Petty Officer 1st Class
Oberbootsmann – Chief petty officer
Hauptbootsmann – Senior Chief Petty Officer
Stabsbootsmann – Master Chief Petty Officer
Oberstabsbootsmann – Master Chief Petty Officer, Fleet/Force Master
Chief Petty Officer
Seekadett – Sea Cadet in the rank of Petty Officer 3rd Class
Fähnrich zur See –
Midshipman 2nd class in the rank of Petty
Officer 1st Class
Oberfähnrich zur See –
Midshipman 1st class in the rank of Senior
Chief Petty Officer
Leutnant zur See – Ensign
Oberleutnant zur See –
Lieutenant (junior grade)
Lieutenant (junior grade) / Sublieutenant
Kapitänleutnant – Lieutenant/Captain Lieutenant
Stabskapitänleutnant – Senior Lieutenant/
Senior Captain Lieutenant
Korvettenkapitän – Lieutenant Commander
Fregattenkapitän – Commander
Kapitän zur See – Captain/Captain at Sea
Flottillenadmiral – Flotilla Admiral
Konteradmiral – Counter Admiral, Rear Admiral
Vizeadmiral – Vice Admiral
Main article: Awards and decorations of the German Armed Forces
Badge of Honour of the Bundeswehr
Combat Action Medal of the Bundeswehr
German Armed Forces Badge of Marksmanship
German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency
German Armed Forces Service Medal
German Flood Service Medal (2002)
German Flood Service Medal (2013)
German Parachutist Badge
Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
Parachutist Badge (Germany)
This article incorporates public domain material from
Library of Congress
Library of Congress document: Jean R. Tartte. "Germany:
A country study". Federal Research Division. Uniforms, Ranks, and
^ "Art 65a Basic Law". Gesetze-im-internet.de. Retrieved 7 June
^ "Art 115b Basic Law". Gesetze-im-internet.de. Retrieved 7 June
^ "German arms sales drop – to second-highest levels on record".
Deutsche Welle. 5 July 2016. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
^ "Art 87a (1) Basic Law". Gesetze-im-internet.de. Retrieved 7 June
^ a b c "Die Stärke der Streitkräfte [Personnel strength of German
Armed Forces]". 3 April 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
^ a b
International Institute for Strategic Studies
International Institute for Strategic Studies (14 February
2018). The Military Balance 2018. London: Routledge.
^ "Embargo Milex Fact Sheet" (PDF). Books.sipri.org. Archived from the
original (PDF) on 27 January 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
^ "Traditionen der Bundeswehr" (in German). Bundesministerium der
Verteidigung. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
^ Fritz Erler, 'Politik und nicht Prestige,' in Erler and Jaeger,
Sicherheit und Rustung, 1962, p.82-3, cited in Julian Lider, Origins
and Development of West German Military Thought, Vol. I, 1949–1966,
Gower Publishing Company Ltd, Aldershot/Brookfield VT, 1986, p.125
^ Aberheim, 'The Citizen in Uniform: Reform and its Critics in the
Bundeswehr,’ in Szabo, (ed.), The
Bundeswehr and Western Security,
St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1990, p.39.
^ Donald Aberheim, 1990, p.37; Donald Aberheim, ‘German Soldiers and
German Unity: Political Foundations of the German Armed Forces,’
California Naval Postgraduate School, 1991, p.14, cited in Artur A
Polish Armed Forces
Polish Armed Forces of 2000: Demands and Changes,' NPGS
Thesis, March 2000, and Obituary for General Ulrich de Maizière, The
Times, 13 September 2006
^ Large, David Clay
Germans to the Front West German rearmament in the
Adenauer era University of North Carolina Press 1996 pp244-5
^ John Lewis Gaddis, 'The
Cold War – a New History', Penguin Books,
London, 2005, p.220
^ Large op.cit. pp263-4
^ Duffield, John: World Power Forsaken: Political Culture,
International Institutions, and German Security Policy After
Unification, p. 32
^ "Outlook: The
Bundeswehr of the future". Bundesministerium der
Verteidigung. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
^ Madeline Chambers (3 December 2015), More assertive Germany
considers bigger army as Syria vote looms Reuters.
^ "Die Stärke der Streitkräfte" (in German). Bundesministerium der
Verteidigung. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
^ "Verteidigungshaushalt 2011" (in German). Bundesministerium der
Verteidigung. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
^ Shanker, Thom (10 June 2011). "Defense Secretary Warns
NATO of "Dim"
Future". New York Times. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
^ "US Think Tank Slams Germany's
NATO Role". Spiegel Online. Retrieved
27 December 2012.
^ "Inside Germany's Higher Defense Spending – Foreign Affairs".
^ "Germany′s von der Leyen admits major
Bundeswehr shortfalls –
News – DW.COM – 27.09.2014". DW.COM.
^ "Ramshackle Army at Odds with Berlin's Global Aspirations –
SPIEGEL ONLINE". Spiegel.de. 30 September 2014. Retrieved 2 March
Reuters Editorial (17 March 2015). "
Germany to boost mid-term
defense spending". Reuters.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 December 2015.
Retrieved 28 December 2015.
^ "Germany's Army To Procure 131 New Boxer Armored Personnel
carriers". Defense News. 17 December 2015.
Germany plans to develop new fighter jet to replace Tornado".
^ "German military to bring back mothballed tanks". DW.COM.
^ Madeline Chambers (3 December 2015). "More assertive Germany
considers bigger army as Syria vote looms". Reuters.
^ Smale, Alison (5 June 2016). "In a Reversal, Germany's Military
Growth Is Met With Western Relief". The New York Times. Retrieved 2
^ Tomkiw, Lydia (10 May 2016). "
Germany Announces First Military
Cold War Amid Cyber Threats, US Pressure".
International Business Times. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
Germany to Expand
Bundeswehr to Almost 200,000 Troops". Deutsche
Welle. 21 February 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
^ Mehta, Aaron (4 February 2016).
Retrieved 2 March 2017.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 March 2016.
Retrieved 10 November 2016.
^ "RSS-Feed (
Bundeswehr und Bundesministerium der Verteidigung)".
BMVg.de (in German). 14 January 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
^ "The Strength of the German Contingents" (in German). Bundeswehr.de.
29 March 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
^ A soldier's joke about this situation runs thus: “The service
uniform is called service uniform because it's not worn on service,
while the field uniform is called field uniform because it's not worn
in the field.” (In the field they wear the battle uniform
(“Gefechtsanzug”), an extended version of the field uniform.)
^ Bei jedem Wetter, zu jeder Zeit: Neue Tarnung für die Truppe
bundeswehr.de. Erding, Bayern, 9 February 2016.
Bundeswehr Multi-Tarnuniform soll unsichtbar machen". Faz.net.
23 April 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
Bundeswehr tarnt sich: Deutsche Soldaten bekommen neue
Uniform". Wiwo.de (in German). Retrieved 2 March 2017.
^ "Zentralanweisung B1-224/0-2" (PDF) (in German). Bundesministerium
der Verteidigung. p. 24. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
Searle, Alaric (2003).
Wehrmacht Generals, West German Society, and
the Debate on Rearmament, 1949–1959. Westport, CT: Praeger
Publishers. ISBN 978-0-275-97968-3.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bundeswehr.
Bundeswehr – Official site (in German)
Federal Ministry of Defence official site (in German, English and
Bundesamt für Wehrtechnik und Beschaffung official site (in German)
Bundesamt für Informationsmanagement und Informationstechnik der
Bundeswehr official site (in German)
Territoriale Wehrverwaltung official site (in German)
Y – Magazine of the Federal Defence Forces (in German)
Zeitschrift für Innere Führung (in German)
Reader Sicherheitspolitik (in German)
Service Joint Support
Holy Roman Empire
Ostsiedlung (East Colonisation)
Confederation of the Rhine
North German Confederation
Unification of Germany
World War I
World War II
Flight and expulsions
Cities and towns
German states by GDP
Science and technology
Coat of arms
North Atlantic Treaty
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
North Atlantic Treaty
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
Allied Command Transformation
Chairman of the Military Committee
Atlantic Treaty Association
Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
Istanbul Cooperation Initiative
Partnership for Peace
Common Security and Defence Policy
Common Security and Defence Policy of the European Union
High Representative/Commission Vice President
Director General of the Military Staff
Chairman of the Military Committee
Foreign Affairs Council
External Action Service
Military Staff (Military Planning and Conduct Capability)
Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability
Intelligence and Situation Centre (Club de Berne)
Crisis Management and Planning Directorate
Security & Defence College
Border and Coast Guard Agency
Institute for Security Studies
Council preparatory bodies
Committee of Permanent Representatives
Political and Security Committee
Committee for Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management
Permanent Structured Cooperation
Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO; TEU, Article 42.6)
Headline Goal 2010
Berlin Plus agreement
Military Mobility (PESCO)
Medical Command (PESCO)
EUFOR Crisis Response Operation Core
EUFOR Crisis Response Operation Core (PESCO)
Made available ad-hoc
through TEU, Article 42.3
See also: Air Transport Command
Movement Coordination Centre
Organisation of Military Associations
Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation
Galileo navigation system
Secure Software-defined Radio (PESCO)
Medal for Extraordinary Meritorious Service
Monitor mission medal
Terrestrial force (EUFOR)
Naval force (EUNAVFOR)
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Capacity Building (EUCAP)
Border Assistance (EUBAM)
Rule of law (EULEX)
See also: Treaties of the European Union
Treaty of Dunkirk (1947)
Treaty of Brussels
Treaty of Brussels (1948)
Western Union Defence Organization
Western Union Defence Organization (1948 – 1951)
Treaty establishing the
European Defence Community
European Defence Community (signed 1952,
London and Paris Conferences (1954)
European Union (1954–2011)
Petersberg Declaration (1992)
European Security and Defence Identity
European Security and Defence Identity (1996-1999)
Saint-Malo declaration (1998)
Helsinki Headline Goal
Helsinki Headline Goal (1999)
European Security Strategy
European Security Strategy (2003)
CAPECON project (2002-2005)
"Synchronised Armed Forces" (2009)
European Security and Defence Policy (1999-2009)
Rapid Operational Force (1995–2012)
Operations Centre (2012-2016)
European Union portal · Military history portal
Militaries of Europe
Bosnia and Herzegovina
States with limited
Sovereign Military Order of Malta
ISNI: 0000 0004 0555 5224