October 26, 2013

Close to Reality and Mission

(Own report) - The Bundeswehr is preparing prospective general staff officers for the invasion of foreign countries and the repression of civil unrest. Scenarios to this effect formed the basis of an informational training exercise for the military's future commanders that ended last week. The large-scale maneuver, which involved a total of 3,500 soldiers and 700 ground and aerial vehicles - carried out in the close vicinity of the former Nazi Bergen-Belsen concentration camp - also exercised combat against insurgents in congested urban areas. Various surveillance drones and elite units specialized in "covert operations" as well as those specialized in psychological warfare were also in action. They trained using live ammunition. According to the German military, the exercise took the "reality" of past warfare into consideration, while anticipating "foreseeable challenges of the future."
Invasion of "Obsidia"
According to the German military, a major maneuver was carried out from September 30, to October 10, at the Bergen and Munster training grounds in the Lueneburg Heath - in the close vicinity of the former Nazi Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. The so-called "land operations" informational training exercise, with the participation of a total of 3,500 soldiers and 700 ground and aerial vehicles, was aimed at training prospective general and admiral staff officers from the German Armed Forces Staff College and Army officer cadets. To develop a "better understanding" of current and future warfare, one "must smell the gun smoke and hear the explosions," explained one of the course's graduates.[1] The scenario forming the basis for the maneuver foresaw German troops invading the fictitious country of "Obsidia" - with the objective of combating the local insurgents.
House-to-House Combat
The various "training stations" the participants had to pass also included combat in an "urban environment." The combat was carried out according to the following script: After spy drones and "Fennek" reconnaissance tanks had reconnoitered the area, it was "taken over, house-by-house" - "under the din of the volleys fired by the 'Marder' personnel carrier's 20-mm automatic cannons, the cross-fire of machineguns and the Leopard 2 battle tanks' flank protection." The Bundeswehr recounts that engineer corps troops placed "access explosive charges" in individual buildings, while armored infantry demonstrated the "rapid capture of smaller groups of houses" and snipers "kept watch for dangerous point targets." According to the troops, the "house-to-house combat" alone does not suffice. It merely creates the "prerequisites for the rapid continuation of the attack into the depths of the flanks of enemy forces kept under comprehensive surveillance."[2]

Information Exchange with NGOs
The relevance of Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) and psychological warfare for success in combat was vividly demonstrated to the future military commanders. As a participating "CIMIC officer" reported, already before the German attack, he sought out a practice village, with the objective of "having an exchange of information with non-governmental organizations, to help complete his situation assessment." In his "conversation with the population," he had also learned "that an enemy militia leader was still inside the village." On the basis of the information achieved in this way, the German military police were "later able to arrest the man," he reports.[3] Simultaneously, the members of the Operative Information Troops (OpInfoTr) were appealing to the inhabitants of the area, to dampen their hostility: "Precisely the creation of a secure environment is decisive for the acceptance and the professionalism of our forces on a mission."[4]
Crowd Riot Control
In spite of this, the scenario of the "informational training exercise" also foresaw the handling of hostile sectors of the population. The prospective general staff officers were even given "roles to play." At one of the "training stations" to be passed, they encountered "an angry crowd carrying banners and shouting slogans." The assumed threat did not last long, according to the Bundeswehr: "Marching in step, the military police formed a human wall separating the demonstrators from the spectators, thereby preventing assaults." As the armed forces further explain, the German military police disposes of special "crowd riot control" (CRC) units, "equipped with shields, riot sticks and protective suits" and with "apprehension units" as well as "K-9 corps." The "prevailing capacity" of the so-called CRC forces, has been "significantly enhanced" by water cannon vehicles.[5] The "YAK" model vehicle in question, is equipped not only with a water cannon, but also with a "shielded operable weapons station,"[6] according to the military.
Close Range Experience
According to the Bundeswehr, this major maneuver was concluded with "combat firing," where the infantry, cavalry and helicopter units all fired live rounds of ammunition. This demonstrated to the future military commanders "what it means to coordinate troops and fire power." "The young soldiers received close range experience with the practical application of the otherwise theoretically exercised doctrine."[7] The German military has consequently designated this training of its general staff officers as being "close to reality and mission."[8] As the participating Inspector General of the Army, Lt. Gen. Bruno Kasdorf, explained, the full "spectrum" of warfare must be taught, "to be prepared for the challenges of the future."[9]

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