America's military faces reductions in force and spending that could have a ripple effect. Proceedings asked the leaders of the world's sea services: Some see U.S. global naval engagement diminishing and the world's power structure realigning itself over the coming decade. In what ways would this affect your navy?
The U.S. Navy and the German Navy are linked by a long history of cooperation and trustful partnership. Strong ties have been formed in the past five decades in numerous operations, hundreds of exercises and many projects and initiatives. The most recent of those were our contribution to the common fight against worldwide terrorism at the Horn of Africa and in the Mediterranean as well as the integration of FGS Hessen in the USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group in 2010.
The entire German military is currently undergoing a major process of restructuring and re-organization, the biggest in our history. Conscription—which has been a fundamental principle in our armed services for more than 50 years—will end in summer 2011. The overall numbers of military personnel will also be reduced; structure and organization of the German Navy will be further streamlined and modernized in the years to come.
Despite those major changes, NATO will remain the fundamental cornerstone of Germany’s future security and defense policy. Forming the link between two continents, it provides unique political and military instruments for the maintenance and restoration of peace.
In the long run, all global challenges confronting our security and safety cannot be met by a single nation alone. From the perspective of the German Navy, the fundamental issues of global security can be addressed only in combined efforts. The prerequisite for this is mutual trust between maritime partners as well as an effective trans-Atlantic alliance. I am fully in line with Admiral Gary Roughead’s conviction that the best defense against opponents is not weapons, but friends. It is that bond between the United States and the German Navy which will continue to hold true in our common future.
As far as the realignment of the world’s power structure is concerned, the German Navy has learned during the past two decades that former opponents may transform into allies, partners, and friends in very short periods of time.
Regardless, the German Navy will strive to cultivate its strong and well-established bond with the U.S. Navy. Furthermore, we will also pursue the further deepening of our relations with old as well as new allies and our friends in NATO, the European Union, and other multinational organizations.