What happens if something happens? Germany is reacting to the new security situation and is drawing up a comprehensive defense plan for the first time since the Cold War.
With better networking with security authorities, disaster control organizations and industrial companies, the Bundeswehr is preparing for the national defense of Germany. For this purpose, a new operational plan for Germany (OPLAN) will be drawn up, which will determine how to proceed together in the event of tension and defense, said the commander of the Territorial Command, Lieutenant General André Bodemann, to the dpa in Berlin.
“The Germany operational plan is derived from the current security and threat situation in Germany and in Europe as a whole,” said Bodemann. “This should be a plan that is executable and feasible, not just a pipe dream, a thought concept, but actually something tangible that can work in the end.”
The document, which is top secret and contains hundreds of pages, will now be discussed at a symposium in Berlin with police authorities, civil protection officers, the THW, scientists, the energy and logistics industry and allies. The plan should be ready and updated by the end of March. Germany will then have an up-to-date, comprehensive defense plan for the first time since the Cold War.
NATO: Germany is in the “rear area”
But the situation in Europe is different than it was 30 years ago, when Germany was a frontline state. Now Germany is in the “rear area”, as NATO says, i.e. in the rear area. “That means I’m not expecting a tank battle in the northern German plain, and hopefully no airborne landings by Russian paratroopers either,” said the general. “But our critical infrastructures, the ports, the bridges, the energy companies, are of course threatened by acts of sabotage, perhaps also by special forces that have infiltrated and are trying to disrupt these very critical infrastructures.”
The military expects four threats, some of which can already be observed, including fake news and disinformation. The opponent will try to influence government decisions, the opinion of the population and perhaps also the media. Attacks in cyberspace are also expected against energy companies and telecommunications.
The third is targeted spying. “And the fourth part, which we now have to arm ourselves against, is clearly sabotage by special forces, for example, by irregular forces who try to make one thing or another unusable in order to hinder or prevent the deployment,” said the general. In addition, the critical infrastructure could be the target of ballistic missiles from the other side. A protective shield is being worked on.
Bodemann: We are currently setting up six regiments
The Western allies in Ukraine are observing how such attacks on the infrastructure can take place. The Bundeswehr planners assume that a larger part of NATO’s own forces will be needed for deterrence and defense on the alliance’s eastern flank and cannot be planned for in Germany itself. “But I have to ensure this protection. I’m doing that with the new homeland security forces that are to be set up. We are currently building up six regiments, but in the derivation from the Germany operational plan we want to clearly determine how much we actually need,” said Bodemann.
Germany’s task will be to maintain the deployment routes for allies and to supply the convoys (“Host Nation Support”). Intensified exercises are already underway. The Bundeswehr, which has been significantly reduced in size since the war, will therefore have to involve or involve more civilian companies and is relying on so-called retention agreements for maximum civilian service provision. Specifically, the tankers of civilian companies then bring the diesel to the routes.
“In the 1980s, we didn’t just have to deal with the supply of operating materials,” remembers Bodemann. “Logistics companies, transport companies, construction companies had vehicles that had a special vehicle license. They knew that if there was a war, then this truck, this bulldozer, this excavator belonged to the Bundeswehr and there was a driver who could also drive it. All of this needs to be rethought again.”
World has changed – old defense plans cannot be transferred
The military planners who began work on the OPLAN almost a year ago could only rely to a limited extent on previous concepts. “Where still available, we also resorted to old considerations from the Cold War, from the 80s. What did you do? How did you do it? Why did you do it?” said the general. “But the world has changed. That means Germany’s old defense plans cannot be transferred one-to-one. This is no longer a blueprint.”
There are developments in weapons technology, digitalization, the entire cyber issue and associated new threats. And: “The separation between external and internal security is no longer as clear as it was several years ago,” said the general. “We need to network a lot more, we need to exchange a lot more.”
The overall defense rests on two pillars. Civil protection and civil protection are the responsibility of the federal government, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the federal states. The Bundeswehr takes over the military share. Finding ways of working that are suitable for stress is part of the task. The fact that many scenarios fall below Article 5 (“alliance case”) doesn’t make it any easier. In many cases, it is not even the federal government that is responsible, but perhaps the federal states initially – and federalism has not proven to be particularly quick or capable of acting in recent crises.
What Bodemann emphasizes: “This defense planning is primarily aimed at deterrence. We are doing something to prevent a conflict or a war from arising in the first place.”
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.