On 29 August 2022, the NATO Military Committee visited Berlin, Germany, upon the invitation of the German Minister of Defence, Mrs Christine Lambrecht. The thirty Allied military representatives, joined by their Finnish and Swedish colleagues, attended briefings and discussions at the Ministry of Defence. These engagements provided the Military Committee an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Germany’s historic change of stance with regard to its foreign and security policies. The Military Committee also attended the Grand Tattoo (Großer Zapfenstreich) held in honour of the former Director General of the NATO International Military Staff, Lieutenant General Hans-Werner Wiermann.
While in Berlin, the Military Committee visited the German Resistance Memorial Centre. The Centre is a site of remembrance, political studies, active learning, documentation, and research. It aims to demonstrate how individual persons and groups took action against the National Socialist dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, and how they made use of what freedom of action they had. Admiral Bauer stated, “We need to remember the lessons of the past. Today we are confronted by a deterioration of our security environment, with a war being conducted on Europe’s soil, something not witnessed since World War II. It is vitally important we stand up for our values – freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.”
The Military Committee also visited the German Armed Forces Memorial. Since 2009, the Memorial has been in place to commemorate military and civilian personnel who lost their lives while serving the Federal Republic of Germany. Here, the Chair of the Military Committee, Admiral Bauer laid a wreath honouring all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
At the Ministry of Defence, Mrs Christine Lambrecht hosted the discussions alongside the German Chief of Defence, General Eberhard Zorn. The exchange of views with the Military Committee focused on how Germany is transitioning its foreign and security policies based on the changed global security environment. The decision to invest 100 billion euros for the 2022 budget and commit to reaching 2% of gross domestic product on defence marks a turning point, “Zeitenwende”. Discussions focused on how to counter both current and future security challenges, the war in Ukraine, the NATO’s deterrence and defence posture and the decisions taken at the NATO Summit in Madrid.
Germany contributes to transatlantic security in many different ways: from protecting Baltic air space, to maritime deployments in the Aegean and the Mediterranean, from leading NATO’s multinational battlegroup in Lithuania, to hosting the Joint Support and Enabling Command logistics command in Ulm. Germany supports the Kosovo Force peacekeeping mission, and it was the second largest contributor to the training mission in Afghanistan. Germany plays a key role with its constant support of NATO-EU cooperation, and it hosts the NATO Space Centre.
Invited by Minister Lambrecht and General Zorn, the Military Committee ended their visit to Germany by attending the Grand Tattoo (Großer Zapfenstreich) in honour of Lieutenant General Hans-Werner Wiermann, former German Military Representative to NATO and the European Union, and former Director General of the International Military Staff at NATO Headquarters. The Grand Tattoo is the German Armed Forces’ most important ceremony. The honour guards from across the German Armed Forces line up together to honour distinguished officials at the end of their service.