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Germany launches military reform with new command structure

April 4, 2024

Germany's Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said he was aiming for a "war-ready" military, with a new central command and a branch specializing in cyber warfare planned.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius speaking in Berlin
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said billions more were needed for the military budget next yearImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

Germany's Defense Minister Boris Pistorius announced plans for a major restructuring of the military on Thursday.

The changes include the establishment of a fourth branch of the armed forces that specializes in cyber warfare, which will operate alongside the army, the air force and the navy.

The expanded Cyber and Information Domain Service (CIR) will be tasked with fending off cyberattacks, protecting electronic infrastructure and analyzing disinformation and other hybrid threats.

It's the latest step in an overhaul of the German military, or Bundeswehr, that was launched in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

"No one should have the idea of attacking us as a NATO territory. We have to convey this credibly and truthfully," Pistorius told a press conference in Berlin.

German military under new central command

The four branches of the military will operate under new central command, combining two previously separate structures for domestic and foreign deployments.

This central command is intended to enable quick decision-making, eliminate overlap and also act as a unified point of contact for NATO.

Pistorius has repeatedly said the German military must become "war-ready" in response to threats from Russia.

"I am convinced it is one of the few words that really describes correctly the imperative here," he told reporters in Berlin.

"I respect the fact that others struggle with the word, but I also note that most who do have no problem with the substance behind it."

Russia is NATO’s 'number 1 threat'

What's next for the Bundeswehr?

While announcing the changes, Pistorius said the Bundeswehr would need an additional €6.5 billion ($7.06 billion) in its budget for 2025.

He did not make any announcements on a possible reintroduction of military service — which has been debated in recent months — but said he planned to present a paper on various models later this month.

zc/dj (dpa, Reuters, AP)

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