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Foreign Military Relations

Since the end of World War II, the military forces of six NATO Allies have been deployed in West Germany--first as occupation troops. Soviet troops were stationed in East Germany as part of the Warsaw Pact forces. Although the United States maintained the largest of the foreign NATO contingents, Britain and France also deployed substantial forces. Belgium, Canada, and the Netherlands maintained smaller troop units, heavily dependent on reinforcement to be of value in crises. Events in Europe culminating in German unification in October 1990, the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, and the Russian compliance with the terms of the Two-Plus-Four Treaty to evacuate its troops from the territory of the former East Germany by late 1994 ended the necessity for NATO to maintain large standing forces in the European theater. As a result, all NATO countries have made deep cuts in their forces based in Germany.

Germany grants NATO forces on its territory the use of military installations and training areas free of charge--airfields, barracks, schools, hospitals, and logistics facilities. Thousands of housing units have been placed at the disposal of the stationing countries. The financial value of German support for Allied bases is balanced in some degree by the impact of Allied wages paid to German employees, orders by Allied forces placed with German firms, and spending by soldiers and their families in Germany. By the 1980s and the 1990s, the physical burden of providing bases for large numbers of Allied troops had become a cause of widespread complaint. Low-level training flights and large-scale exercises that sometimes result in injuries and property damage are particular sources of discontent, especially when carried out at night or on weekends.

By early 1995, about 100,000 United States troops were still stationed in Germany. United States army forces in Germany include one army headquarters, one corps headquarters, and two divisions; the air force has two air force headquarters, one tactical fighter wing, one combat support wing, one air control wing, and one airlift wing. Armor and other weapons are stockpiled for units in the United States earmarked as reinforcements for Europe.

British forces in Germany numbered about 38,000 in mid-1995. British forces in Germany include one corps headquarters (multinational), one armored division, and an air force group headquarters and two air bases. Belgium and the Netherlands maintain about 10,000 and 3,000 troops, respectively.

France maintained about 15,000 troops in Germany as of mid-1995, reduced from 44,000 in 1989. Most of these troops are part of the Eurocorps. The position of France among NATO countries maintaining forces in Germany is unique. French units are not committed to NATO, and the participation of France in the event of conflict is subject to a decision by the French president. Nevertheless, French staff and troops cooperate in certain NATO exercises and maneuvers.

International Military Missions

In July 1994, the Federal Constitutional Court decided that Bundeswehr units could participate in UN and other operations outside the NATO area if such actions had the approval of the Bundestag. That decision was preceded by much political controversy in the early 1990s, including charges from opponents of out-of-area deployment of Bundeswehr elements that provisions of the Basic Law were being ignored (see The Out-of-Area Debate, ch. 8).

During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Germany received international criticism for its unwillingness to assume a role proportionate to its military power and political importance. The strong pacifist streak in German society again manifested itself in anti-United States and antiwar demonstrations that contributed to an impression in some quarters of German indifference to Iraq's aggression. Germany did make a contribution of US$10 billion to the UN operation against Iraq, but its military actions were confined to the NATO area. German naval units and mine countermeasure ships were shifted to the Mediterranean to cover for NATO vessels sent to the Persian Gulf. After hostilities ended, German ships took part in mine-clearing operations in the gulf. German Alpha Jets and air defense missiles were deployed to Turkey, largely as a political gesture to demonstrate solidarity with other NATO countries involved in the conflict with Iraq. Later, German troops and helicopters were sent to northern Iran and Iraq to aid Kurdish refugees.

In December 1992, the government pledged to provide some 1,600 troops to regions of Somalia where peace had been restored to assist in reconstruction and the distribution of relief goods. The contingent included specialized logistic and medical units plus a small protective detachment of infantry troops. Despite political opposition, the government said it was determined to deploy troops to areas of Somalia where there was no fighting. German troops subsequently participated successfully in the United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM II).

German armed forces participated to a limited extent in several other UN-organized operations, generally ones with a humanitarian purpose that would evoke minimal criticism that the Basic Law was being flouted. In 1992 a group of some 150 Bundeswehr medical personnel went to Cambodia to provide health care to the 2,200 members of the UN mission in that nation. Amid objections from opposition parties, a destroyer and three reconnaissance aircraft were sent to join forces from seven other NATO countries in an attempt to monitor the UN embargo of Serbia. German troops were involved in delivery of food to the besieged city of Sarajevo but avoided airdrops that could result in conflict. Service by German crews on unarmed NATO reconnaissance aircraft to help enforce the "no-fly zone" was only narrowly approved by the Federal Constitutional Court.

Data as of August 1995

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