News from Deutscher BundeswehrVerband (DBwV)
- A guest at the Berlin Security Conference
On 29 and 30 November, the Security Conference (BSC) took place in Berlin, to which many security policy experts were invited. The German Armed Forces Association organised a stand together with the Soldiers’ and Veterans’ Foundation (SVS) and EUROMIL. On the first floor of the hotel, visitors were able to find out more about the three organisations and talk to those responsible. The DBwV is a member of EUROMIL and has supported the organisation in its European work for many years. Its President Emmanuel Jacob was on site with his team, as was Jörg Greiffendorf, the DBwV’s Head of European Affairs. He summarised the conference as follows: “The BSC is a very good format for presenting current topics and at the same time giving important organisations an opportunity to present themselves in the exhibition area. Just like the DBwV, EUROMIL is an excellent fit for this event, as it brings the issue of social working conditions for people in the armed forces into focus alongside many other aspects. After all, security in Europe is only achieved through the deployment of thousands of soldiers.”
Away from the exhibition stand, the DBwV representatives listened to some exciting discussions. In keeping with the friendship between EUROMIL and the DBwV, a debate was held on the security architecture in Europe. The speakers emphasised the importance of continued support for Ukraine. The future of Ukraine clearly lies in NATO. The speakers also called for Europe to think more about who is a partner and who is a friend. This strategic thinking is lacking.
In addition to panel discussions, the BSC offers the opportunity to delve deeper into a topic in smaller panels, such as climate policy or procurement in Europe. A particularly large audience gathered in the evening for a debate on the Middle East. This current topic is of concern to many people and has a wide range of implications. At the forefront is the concern that emerging crises will make it harder to support Ukraine.
- New digital strategies: social media push event
Networking, discussing and exchanging experiences: Around 25 soldiers, members and elected officials as well as full-time DBwV employees met for two days at the DBwV’s “Social Media Push Event” in Berlin. The event was organised by Deputy Federal Chairman, Lieutenant Colonel Marcel Bohnert.
The aim of the event was to discuss the status quo and the future of social media. The participants had time to share their experiences in order to become even better together. The second day focused on topics such as prioritisation, disinformation and artificial intelligence.
“It was a matter close to my heart to bring together and train association members who run authentic and likeable social media accounts. I am firmly convinced that there is a lot of untapped potential for further image building and the future of our association,” says Marcel Bohnert.
- Ministry: German Armed Forces’ special assets not blocked
The Ministry of Defence clarified on Thursday that the Ministry of Finance’s budget freeze does not affect the German Armed Forces’ special assets. The precautionary extension of the budget freeze to include commitment authorisations from the special assets of the German Armed Forces has been lifted by a supplementary decree, according to a statement from the Ministry of Defence, which is available to our editorial team. This ensures that the financing of projects that are not exclusively covered by the German Armed Forces Special Fund is also guaranteed, the Ministry of Defence added.
- Defence Minister awards the Army and Society Prize
The Minister of Defence has called on the people of Germany to be fit for war and ready to defend themselves – the basic prerequisite for this is that the German Armed Forces is firmly anchored in society. There is a whole range of people and institutions that have rendered outstanding services to social recognition and appreciation of the armed forces. This has now been honoured by the Minister of Defence with the Army and Society Award.
The town of Freyung, the Axensprung Theatre in Hamburg, former member of the German Parliament Winfried Nachtwei and the association Solidaritätslauf e.V. (Solidarity)- these are this year’s winners of the Army and Society Award. In the Stauffenberg Hall of the Ministry of Defence, host Boris Pistorius presented the awards to the winners together with Gerd Landsberg, Managing Director of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities.
“There are fewer and fewer towns and communities in which the German Armed Forces can be seen,” said Defence Minister Pistorius. This makes appreciation and recognition all the more important, as this leads to the integration and inclusion of the German Armed Forces in society, emphasised the Social Democrat. “This is extremely important for the fulfilment of the mission from the heart of society,” said Pistorius. Addressing the award winners, the Minister said: “You all stand here as representatives of the many people who are involved in full-time or voluntary work. You are helping to make the German Armed Forces more visible.”
- Abolition of supplementary income limits: Partial success of the DBwV
For years, the DBwV has been campaigning for the complete abolition of all supplementary income limits for retired soldiers and civil servants. A complex system of regulations in the Soldiers’ Pension Act and the Civil Servants’ Pension Act means that the pensions of soldiers and civil servants are “suspended” if they earn an income from subsequent employment in the public service or in the private sector that exceeds an amount to be determined individually. In some cases, different supplementary income limits exist side by side, which makes the application of the so-called suspension regulations even more confusing.
Until now, there has been a special situation for all comrades who could have their pension rate temporarily increased in accordance with Section 26a SVG (solider law) or Section 14a BeamtVG (Civil Service Pension Act) for the period between retirement and drawing a pension from the statutory pension insurance scheme. Previously, this increase did not apply in full if the person concerned earned an income that exceeded an average of EUR 525 per month in a calendar year after reaching the special age limit under Section 5 BpolBG (Federal Police Officers Act) or if they received a corresponding income from employment in the public sector.
These special supplementary income limits under Section 26a SVG and Section 14a BeamtVG will now be completely abolished with retroactive effect from 1 January 2023!
- German Parliament extends German Armed Forces mission in Iraq
Despite the tense situation in the entire Middle East, the German Armed Forces will continue to participate in the international mission in Iraq for another year. This was decided by a large majority in the German Parliament.
Just a few weeks ago, the extension of the German Armed Forces’ Iraq mission mandate would have been just one news item among many others – but “the brutal terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel and the danger of a regional conflagration are bringing this mandate of our soldiers to the fore”, said politician Lamya Kaddor (Alliance 90/The Greens) at the start of the debate in the German Parliament on Wednesday. According to the parliamentarian, the scope of the events is yet to be seen, but it is already clear: “They will massively change the region.” Iraq will continue to play an important role in the future, as will the mandate for the German Armed Forces mission, said Kaddor. The mission is doing a lot for Iraq and for international security, emphasised the politician. Also for the fight against the terrorist organisation “Islamic State”, which has its roots in Iraq: “IS may have lost visibility, but it has not disappeared,” warned Kaddor, comparing the actions of IS with those of Hamas: both shared “the same diabolical spirit”.
- Yellow ribbons in the German Parliament
History repeating: As every year, the DBwV collects signatures and greetings from MPs in the German Parliament to send to the soldiers in the respective deployment areas. It goes in cycles with the appearance of parlamentarians and it reminds us a little of world politics: little happens for a long time and then you catch yourself thinking that you might fall asleep and then you’re no longer prepared, but then it all comes thick and fast and with the simultaneity of events you have to make an effort to get ahead of the wave.