Tuesday, February 5, 2013

German Drones Uber Alles?

The news today has Germany is now purchasing armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).  Yep, Germany will be firing away with its own drones.  Look out for a new more assertive Germany. 

Give me a break.  While Germany gets more grief than it should, it certainly underperformed in Afghanistan.  It has the third largest contingent for most of the time, yet did not make much of an impact.  Stories abounded of their soldiers gaining weight while in Afghanistan, which is kind of like Hurley maintaining weight during the Lost series.  Germany had far more capabilities than it deployed.  No tanks, little or no artillery, only a handful of helicopters, and its contingent faced pretty tight restrictions through 2009 and a bit less so thereafter.

Then Germany opted entirely out of Libya.  This was out of character.  I would have expected Germany to participate in the naval embargo and maybe even in the no fly zone once there was nothing to shoot at in the air over Libya besides other NATO (and partner) planes.  But Merkl overreacted to the Afghanistan malaise.  No Germany in Libya either.

So, Germany will acquire a new capability, one that is pretty much expected for any 21st century military, but as long as Germany has coalition governments, I would expect it to be quite limited in how it deploys such capabilities. 

It seems to me that those covering Europe are required to write the same stories over and over again:
  • Germany becoming assertive.
  • NATO's imminent demise. (checking old posts, I think I have more than a dozen responses to past predictions of NATO's death)
  • The EU's new defense cooperative enterprise and how it will supplant NATO.
Am I forgetting any?


Unknown said...

The US complaining about the Europeans not spending enough on defence, see Ivo Daadler.

Anonymous said...

No German action over Libya is not surprising. There is still a stigma today (in Germany) of anything that may be perceived as a link between today's Germany and its Nazi past. Hence, anything that may perceive it to a link to Rommel's Afrika Korps is not welcomed.

As for tight restrictions, it started as far back as 2004 in Kabul...


Christopher Petersen said...

The German ineptness in Afghanistan had quite serious consequences. Initially, they were given the responsibility of training the Afghan Police and they failed miserably. We are still trying to make up for this problem since while the Afghan Army is actually quite well trained it's the police force that's still suffering. This is important because after having been over there it was made quite clear to me that in terms of giving the people a sense of security the police force is actually more important than the Army because it's the police that the Afghans deal with on a regular basis.

Steve Saideman said...

No doubt that handing policing over the the Germans was a huge mistake, given how restricted they were. But one of the problems I have when people talk about police training is that they tend to see it as similar to army training. That is, the idea that we started late with police training means that it should follow the same trajectory as army training but just delayed when it is entirely possible and likely that police training is more difficult, more challenging for a variety of reasons. The two lines--army/police training/progress--should probably not have the same slope.