"As soon as you leave the town hall building you will be a lot smarter." This old German saying about information transparency has been showing its historic truth time and again, esp. in the sixth German Armed Forces' reform since reunification in 1990, now called new-orientation. But, this time 'the town hall' is quite silent or arrogant with irreversible decisions.
The regional chairman of the German soldiers' association DBwV ("Deutscher BundeswehrVerband") - section West -, LTC (GE) Thomas Sohst, made his point in the op-ed article for the members. He revealed and commented on a contradiction between "All is set - the sack is closed" and "From mistakes, you learn" approach - having been sent by the German Federal Ministry of Defense, esp. by Minister Thomas de Mazière.
Germany's transition and downsizing of the Bundeswehr to all-voluntary forces is not that easy as the "Federal Eagles" in the upper echelons might think.
The crucial "pick-up point for all personnel" has been missed so far. The people involved, serving soldiers and civilian staff alike along with their families have felt a great deal of negligence and "orders" like 'eyes shut, and off we go' that the enthusiasm and optimism for supporting this change "new-orientation" - having never been a problem in the past five reforms - is next to zero.
Some 2.000+ civilian staff will be cut out and transferred to the Ministries of Home Affairs and Finance for salary, pension and medical assistance issues for some 500.000 plus soldiers, veterans, civil servants and retirerees with their families in a three-way enterprise where the mice (home, treasury) shall be devouring the elephant (defense).
And you know what happened on the Titanic.
The overload for the one and only new created "Unified Human Ressources Department" for soldiers and civilian staff as substitution of four regional defense administration H. R. sections with four subsidiaries is unbelievable and incomprehensible.
It's like repair-working on a running machine - cannot work, too dangerous, the likelihood for a major malfunction is too high.
The major problem of this mess is: The Big Eagles don't care because there are too many construction sites to handle. The guidelines, if any, are too vague to get to the results desired.
The catch 22 is that German soldiers and civilian staff have always gotten orders 'only for the final result' not for the way of implementation in special terms for decades- and it has miraculously worked, but not this time in this Bundeswehr 'new-orientation'. Thinking that this 'golden tenet' can work forever is wishful thinking, IMO.
LTC Sohst wrapped up his article with: "And now? The targets have to be adapted to reality. Commanding unit leaders, leading officers and master-sergeants and their civilian equivalents have to be involved. They need to be part of the development, the new-orientation, in order to be able to make decisions responsibly. And those who should be involved need to be relentlessly prepared - without any fear - to say what is possible or not. The DBwV function owners within the military are prepared to support this."
Well, I somewhat admire LTC Sohst for his residual optimism. The current frustration and lack of optimism among all levels of "decision-makers" within the Bundeswehr - scientifically proven by DBwV and internal defense studies - are so high that two thirds of those people in positions of being able to making decisions within the troops wouldn't recommend a Bundeswehr career for their own children.
This fact alone should be a wake-up call for the Defense Mininster to change his mind for 'a mistake-culture from which you might learn a thing or two if the frogs on the bottom soil had some say to the eagles in high elevations.'