Managing Convergence: German Military Doctrine and Capabilities in the 21st Century

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Although Germany initiated a far-reaching defence reform process in 2003, it has faced criticism from its NATO Alliance partners for its reticence to contribute to higher-intensity operations under ISAF. The majority of the academic literature focuses upon the impact of German security culture on the willingness of policy leaders to sanction a more offensive role for the Bundeswehr. This study explores two neglected dimensions of reform which have an important impact on the Bundeswehr’s ability to undertake full-spectrum operations: military doctrine and capabilities. It finds that low ‘executive autonomy’ continues to incentivise an inappropriate level of political interference in doctrinal development and constrains the ability of the core executive to overcome the impact of organisational politics between the individual Services on capability investment. However, the article uncovers indicators that the Bundeswehr is beginning to exhibit greater tactical and operational dynamism, following experiences under ISAF and reforms to the ‘lessons-learned process’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-270
Number of pages26
JournalDefence Studies
Issue number2
Early online date1 Aug 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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