Germany’s Rising Global Naval Power

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To protect its access to vital seaways, Germany is about to embark on a drastic upgrade of its navy.

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The Trumpet

Following a rash of reports and high-level meetings over the past few months, German elites are seeking to greatly increase their nation’s naval presence in foreign waters.

The latest high-level think tank to join the clamor for raising Germany’s global military presence is the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Funded by the federal government, this foundation has political allegiance to the Christian Democratic Union, Germany’s main center-right political party.

According to a release by German-Foreign-Policy.com, a current paper produced by the foundation declares its support of moves for strengthening of “military capacities” in the Deutsche Marine.

The case is made that the Federal Republic is strongly dependent economically on the sea, not only due to the maritime economy in an immediate sense which totals 3 percent of Germany’s gross domestic product, but also as much of the nation’s major industrial exports are transported overseas by ship.

With the German economy essentially built on exports, access to the seaways by which its products travel to their foreign destinations—and through the vital sea gates that are the main choke points in sea trade—is vital to the survival of the German economy.

In tandem with statements made by Commerzbank Board Chairman Klaus-Peter Müller at the recent baks forum, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation report observes that with rising world trade growth, the “risks along the global maritime added-value chain” are rising; new “weak spots” are appearing in the “maritime transport chain,” such as off the coast of West Africa, where Germany will also soon have to show its military presence as it is currently doing off the Horn of Africa.

The report describes the inevitability of the government ensuring that the Deutsche Marine be appropriately equipped to handle such missions.

German warships currently participate in all four nato Maritime Groups. The Deutsche Marine’s present missions also include Operation Enduring Freedom off the Horn of Africa, nato Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean, Combined Task Force 150 operating in the North Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, and unifil ii patrolling the coast of Lebanon.

Anticipating adding to these commitments even more overseas missions, new warships including submarines and frigates are on order and will soon be added to the Deutsche Marine’s flotilla, strengthening its global presence.

The online journal Germany Defense states that the German Navy is today “Equipped with state-of-the art naval vessels, weapons and aircraft,” and as such, “the German Navy is a force to reckon with. [T]he force is planning on a lot of acquisitions in order to strengthen its fleet further.”

The Deutsche Marine’s first mission was, significantly—given its primary role in the destabilization and breakup of old Yugoslavia—as part of a multination force operating 1993 to 1996, tasked with blockading shipping from serving former Yugoslavia via the Adriatic Sea.

Two years later, the German Navy engaged in its first combat mission since World War ii. A small German marine task force joined a multination European Union force in a mission dubbed Operation Atalanta at an operations base in Djibouti. The mission was mounted to counter the attacks of pirates on shipping in the region of the Horn of Africa. Spiegel dubbed it “Germany’s return to the world’s military stage.”

It was, at the time, as Spiegel put it, “a rather modest undertaking.”

Well, as the saying goes, “mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”

In keeping with Germany’s defense elites’ current drive to build a positive image of the nation’s military role in the mind of the German public, the Deutsche Marine seeks to enhance its public image by emphasizing its role as protector of German citizenry. The Deutsche Marine has launched its “Sea. For You.” PR campaign.

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