The directives on the top-level structure of the Bundeswehr govern the relationship between the top-level military and civilian structures in the Bundeswehr. They are issued by the Federal Minister of Defence. The directives to date have notably defined the role of the Chief of Defence more closely.
Background: The top-level structure of the Ministry of Defence was proving to be insufficiently defined in practical terms. This was particularly true of the responsibilities of the Chief of Defence. When the Bundeswehr was established, he was appointed as an advisor to the Minister and the Federal Government, but had no place in the administrative chain of command. He was the equivalent of a director-general at the Ministry, lodged alongside the chiefs of the single services (Army, Navy, etc.), but unlike them, he had no area of responsibility of his own. Moreover, the need to adapt the Bundeswehr staff structure to those of the NATO partners was realised.
Key points of the directive: The powers of the Chief of Defence were expanded. Henceforth, he was accountable to the Minister for the overall concept of the Bundeswehr and, acting as a senior Director-General, had authority over the single-service chiefs. They each had their own staff. These staffs functioned both as directorates-general within the Ministry and the highest military command elements of the single services within the Bundeswehr. This enabled them to convey ministerial decisions directly to the armed forces.
Background: As the Bundeswehr transformed into a army on operations, the Chief of Defence – who was already in charge of joint tasks – was assigned command of Bundeswehr Joint Forces Operations Command in 2002. His responsibility for the preparation and conduct of operations abroad had been expanded before 2005, but was not fully reflected in the top-level structure.
Key points of the directive: The Chief of Defence was assigned the authority to not just make decisions on concepts, but to also issue specific directives pertaining to the command and control of troops on operations, force planning and the maintenance of the operational capability of the Bundeswehr. His authority covered capability analysis, the determination of requirements and procurement.
Background: The reorientation of the Bundeswehr, which had led to a downsizing of the military personnel and corresponding adjustments to the command structures, showed the need for even stronger joint command and control.
Key points of the directive: The Chief of Defence, the highest-ranking soldier in the Bundeswehr, now became the administrative superior of all the military personnel. At the Ministry, he was also assigned responsibility for the Directorate-General for Planning, the Directorate-General for Forces Policy and the Directorate-General for Strategy and Operations. Henceforth, he assumed control of Bundeswehr operations – now considered the most important joint task. To assist him in the discharge of this function, the operational and tactical levels were moved from the Ministry to the Joint Forces Operations Command. The chiefs of the single services were extracted from the Ministry and given more autonomy.