The History of the Joint Support and Enabling Service (JSES)

The Joint Support and Enabling Service was established in Cologne in 2000 as a joint organisation of the Army, Air Force and Navy. It brought together joint capabilities in what are known as “capability coordination commands”. In 2011, a fundamental restructuring process took place, which included formation of the German Joint Support and Enabling Service Headquarters. In 2017, several commands and agencies left the Joint Support and Enabling Service.

Schützenpanzer Marder auf einem Güterwagon.
Bundeswehr

20 years of the Joint Support and Enabling Service

In 2000, the Joint Support and Enabling Service (JSES) entered into service in Cologne as a new major organisational element. As a joint organisation of the Army, Air Force and Navy with 80,000 military and civilian personnel, the JSES was truly the basis for supporting and enabling the armed forces. It brought together a large part of the joint capabilities required for operations and routine duty, for example in the areas of logistics, CBRNchemical, biological, radiological, nuclear  defence and military police. In this way, the JSES enabled the armed forces to increase their sustainability and efficiency while considerably reducing costs. The JSES was not only a trailblazer, but also a driver of the Bundeswehr’s transformation.

For leadership, the Joint Support and Enabling Service initially relied on the Joint Support Command in Cologne and the Armed Forces Office in Bonn. As the national territorial command, the Joint Support Command had authority over Military District Commands I through IV, as well as the forces and facilities that are of direct relevance to operations: logistics, communication and information systems support, electronic warfare, psychological operations, the military police system and explosive ordnance disposal, as well as construction and operation of camps. The Armed Forces Office was primarily responsible for basic training and functional activities. These activities included schools, academies, universities and agencies with specialist tasks such as verification of disarmament measures, the defence attaché offices and the Bundeswehr’s agencies abroad.

Soldaten stellen einen Wohncontainer auf.

Setting up new container buildings in Camp Marmal, Mazar-i-Sharif for ISAF in 2007.

Bundeswehr

The Joint Support and Enabling Service on operations

The comprehensive nature of the Joint Support and Enabling Service’s contributions to the Bundeswehr’s operations is evidenced by its roles as a force enabler and force provider. For example, ensuring the Bundeswehr’s strategic mobility was part of the Joint Support and Enabling Service’s main mission from the beginning. This mission has presented the JSES with major challenges, particularly for initial entry operations – challenges that it has faced with great success time and time again, for example for ISAF in 2002 or EUFOR RD  CONGO in 2006. From its establishment to this day, the JSES has provided the Bundeswehr’s contingents with everything they need, every day and around the world.
Since then, no Bundeswehr operation can be conducted without the JSES’ involvement and support. Units of the Joint Support and Enabling Service provide an average of 20 to 25 percent of the contingents. The Bundeswehr Joint Forces Operations Command and the Joint Command Special Operations, located in Geltow near Potsdam, as well as the Response Forces Operations Command (known as the Multinational Joint Headquarters since 2013) in Ulm were also part of the JSES organisation until 2011. They exercised command and control over units of all armed services and major military organisational elements on operations. These units then reported directly to the Chief of Defence.

Gepanzerte Radfahrzeuge der Bundeswehr warten in einer Kolonne auf ihre Schiffsverladung im Hafen.

Since 2008, the JSES has ensured strategic mobility by sea with roll-on/roll-off ships.

Bundeswehr/Michael Wils-Kudiabor

Cooperating with the private sector

When it was created, the Joint Support and Enabling Service was assigned the task of bringing together the best of two worlds – the military and industry – while ensuring high quality. One example was participation in the multinational Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALISStrategic Airlift International Solution) project from 2006 to 2016. Until the A400M was introduced, SALISStrategic Airlift International Solution ensured mobility in strategic air transport operations through the use of civilian commercial capacities. Another example is the solely German GGSS project (for assured access contracts regarding strategic sealift), which has been ongoing since 2008 to ensure strategic mobility by sea. To this end, an agreement was concluded with a Danish shipping line ensuring that three roll-on/roll-off (RO/RO) ships would be available to Germany with certain lead times. This corresponds to the sea transport requirements of the Bundeswehr’s most likely operations.

Drei Offiziere und eine Zivilistin vor einer militärischen Ehrenformation.

Activation ceremony for the German Joint Support and Enabling Service Headquarters in Bonn on 29 September 2012.

Bundeswehr/Thomas Ströter

Reorientation of the Joint Support and Enabling Service

The Joint Support and Enabling Service was also restructured during the reorientation of the Bundeswehr, which started in 2011. In this process, its active duty personnel decreased by more than half to 38,750. At the same time, the removal of the chiefs of service from the ministerial structures also meant creating a new operations command. On 1 October 2012, the German Joint Support and Enabling Service Headquarters, seated in Bonn, started its work. The three commands with special capabilities, which are known as the “capability coordination commands” – the Bundeswehr Logistics Command in Erfurt, the Bundeswehr Communication and Information Systems Command in Bonn and the Strategic Reconnaissance Command in Grafschaft-Gelsdorf – and the Bundeswehr Territorial Command in Berlin became the core of a compact new Joint Support and Enabling Service. Their commanders reported directly to the Chief of the Joint Support and Enabling Service regarding the operational readiness, command and control, training and further development of their capability coordination commands.
At the same time, the Joint Support Command was disbanded, and the responsibilities from the level of the four military district commands were transferred to the fifteen regional territorial commands. The JSES made a major contribution to national defence by establishing a total of 30 regional security and support companies for the territorial reserve by 2014.
Aside from the new capability coordination commands, high-value agencies in the JSES continued to perform important tasks for the entire Bundeswehr. These agencies include the Multinational Joint Headquarters in Ulm, the Armed Forces Office in Bonn, the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College in Hamburg and the Leadership Development and Civic Education Centre in Koblenz.

Zwei militärische Radfahrzeuge warten auf ihre Verladung in ein Transportflugzeug mit geöffneter Heckklappe.

The JSES redeploying materiel from ISAF through the transshipment point in Trabzon, Turkey in 2013.

Bundeswehr/Vanita Schanze

Major operational commitments

At the end of 2012, the Joint Support and Enabling Service was the second-largest troop-contributing major organisational element, providing 1,500 military personnel for the German contingents. Afghanistan and the Balkans were still its main focusses. For ISAF, the JSES provided around 25 percent of German military personnel in theatre. In the Balkans, this figure was even higher: almost 40 percent. The JSES also had an additional 1,500 military personnel earmarked for standby commitments such as the European Union Battlegroups or the NATO  Response Force. In 2013, the JSES took on another very extensive task in addition to its other operational commitments: redeployment of the materiel from Afghanistan. Dismantling Camp Kunduz and Regional Command North was the first stage in redeployment from ISAF, which was successfully completed by the end of 2014.

The Joint Support and Enabling Service since 2017

In 2017, the Joint Support and Enabling Service underwent another restructuring process when the Cyber and Information Domain Service was established as a new major organisational element. In this process, the Bundeswehr Communication and Information Systems Command, the Strategic Reconnaissance Command and the Bundeswehr Operational Communication Centre moved to the new Cyber and Information Domain Service on 1 July 2017. Other agencies, such as the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, the Leadership Development and Civic Education Centre and the Military Counterintelligence Service also ceased to be part of the Joint Support and Enabling Service as of that date. They were assigned to the Chief of Defence or the Federal Ministry of Defence. At the same time, the Bundeswehr Military Police Command and the Bundeswehr CBRNchemical, biological, radiological, nuclear Defence Command were removed from the Bundeswehr Territorial Command and assigned directly to the German Joint Support and Enabling Service Headquarters.

Auf einem Transportzug stehen amerikanische Kampfpanzer in langer Reihe hintereinander.

Transporting US combat vehicles for Operation Atlantic Resolve by rail in 2017 within the scope of host nation support.

Bundeswehr/Alyssa Bier

The future role of the Joint Support and Enabling Service

With 27,400 active posts, the Joint Support and Enabling Service is now the Bundeswehr’s second-largest major military organisational element. Through its support services, the JSES ensures Bundeswehr-wide mission accomplishment at home and abroad. As national territorial commander, the Chief of the Joint Support and Enabling Service reports directly to the Chief of Defence regarding command and control of domestic operations. As a joint, integrated organisation with a multinational orientation, the Joint Support and Enabling Service makes key German contributions to NATO for national and collective defence. In future, this will also involve increased support for allied and friendly armed forces while they are in Germany: host nation support with Germany acting as a hub. The JSES is also taking on the role of “command responsible for initial deployment” for the deployment of German forces. In this context, the Joint Support and Enabling Service is also performing a coordinating role for the Defender-Europe 20 exercise. This exercise is the US armed forces’ largest deployment operation in the past 25 years and will provide valuable information on Germany’s role as a transit country and on the future role of the Joint Support and Enabling Service.