On contemporary war and the German Armed Forces: the Afghan war and its consequences
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Since the 1990s, German soldiers have been continuously deployed abroad without geographical restrictions. This policy breaks with the customs of the Cold War, in which the Bundeswehr focused strictly on continental roles and missions of forward defense in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The thesis argues that the evolution of the Bundeswehr to operational forces was a military adaptation determined by sociopolitical and military dynamics. Missions abroad transformed the Bundeswehr and had implications on the political level, and in society more broadly, in the face of domestic doubts and a public skepticism about war. More specifically, this transition has forced more qualitative changes than did unification and perhaps anything that came before. The heart and brains of the Bundeswehr changed because the Afghan mission was a new operational environment with unknown demands and consequences to which soldiers and civilians had to adapt in order to carry out the mission with success amid strategic ambiguity and domestic resistance. It resulted in a change of thinking, which has led to an emergence of a new identity of the Bundeswehr with a new Einsatz-Generation, which will have significant effects in Germany and among its allies well after the Germans cease security and combat operations in Afghanistan.
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