Bundeswehr in the 21st Century: Between Prussia's Glory and Design

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9781249882978: Bundeswehr in the 21st Century: Between Prussia's Glory and Design

This monograph is meant to inspire military professionals to approach Prussian military history as a source of concepts with enduring relevance for modern armed forces. Reference point for the examination is the Bundeswehr (German armed forces) and its ongoing transformation to an all-volunteer armed force. The future of a professional Bundeswehr is not merely a question of financial resources, organization, or troop strength; it is also a question of leadership culture and military effectiveness in an increasing complex operational environment. Therefore, this paper aims to support the ongoing reform process in the Bundeswehr by providing scope for reflection on traditional German military organization, education, and thinking. Starting point of the examination is General Gerhard von Scharnhorst who became the intellectual head of a group of military reformers that reorganized the Prussian Army after her disastrous defeat by Napoleon in 1806. Scharnhorst aimed to improve military leadership by introducing a permanent general staff, deeply interwoven with the reorganization of the military educational system in Prussia. In a second step, the monograph depicts the career path of Field Marshal Helmuth Graf von Moltke (the Elder) who experienced selection, education, and training in the according to Scharnhorst's proposals reformed Prussian Army. The third part of this monograph focuses on Moltke's personal leadership within the Prussian Royal Headquarters, and on his operational planning and command principles during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-1871. This section also draws parallels between Moltke's example and modern armed forces, represented by the German Bundeswehr. The monograph concludes that Moltke provided a blueprint for mastering the complexity of military affairs through high quality and effective leadership linked with the German general staff system. For the Bundeswehr this blueprint is essential in order to face today's operational challenges and to

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