Angetretene Soldaten
Bundeswehr/Sebastian Wilke

How the Bundeswehr is organised

The Bundeswehr has more than 260,000 personnel, including women and men in uniform as well as civilian staff. Together, they often carry out dangerous duties at home and abroad. Operations are always based on political mandates. All members of the Bundeswehr therefore confidently express this commitment: “United we serve Germany”.

Political leadership and military command and control

The Bundeswehr consists of the armed forces and the Federal Defence Administration. Both elements have their own specific tasks and particular strengths. Only together can they fulfil the Bundeswehr’s mission.

Within the federal government, the Federal Ministry of Defence is the ministry in charge of military defence and all matters concerning the Bundeswehr. It is the supreme military command authority and the superior authority for the Federal Defence Administration. Since July 2019, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has led the Federal Ministry of Defence. She has the political responsibility and holds the power of command over the Bundeswehr in peacetime. This means that she is the highest superior of all military personnel as well as their highest disciplinary superior.

The Chief of Defence advises the Federal Minister of Defence in military matters. He is the highest-ranking soldier and in charge of the overall armed forces concept. A total of approximately 2,500 personnel work at the official seats of the Federal Ministry of Defence in Bonn and Berlin.

Defence Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer at the German Federal Press Conference in Berlin

The Federal Minister of Defence is the highest superior of all military and civilian Bundeswehr personnel.

Bundeswehr/Jonas Weber

The armed forces

Of course, military personnel are the armed core of the armed forces. They belong either to an armed service or a major organisational element. The armed services are the Army, the Air Force and the Navy. The major military organisational elements are the Joint Medical Service, the Cyber and Information Domain Service and the Joint Support and Enabling Service. Military personnel can transfer from one service or organisational element to another. All tasks and capabilities required in equal measure by the other major organisational elements and armed services are pooled in the Joint Support and Enabling Service. This includes, for example, the logistic forces and the military police.

A Leopard battle tank drives through the terrain

The Army is the largest of the Bundeswehr’s armed services.

Bundeswehr/Andrea Bienert

The Federal Defence Administration

The second part of the Bundeswehr organisation is the Federal Defence Administration. According to the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, the forces’ personnel and materiel requirements must be met by a civilian administration. The Federal Defence Administration includes the areas of personnel; equipment, information technology and in-service support; and infrastructure, environmental protection and services. Civilian personnel head these major organisational elements. However, this does not mean that no military personnel serve in them. The armed forces chaplaincy and the military legal system also belong to the non-military part of the Bundeswehr organisation.

Outside shot of a historical building

Major civilian organisational elements are often located in cities.

Bundeswehr/Daniela Anneken

The tasks of the Bundeswehr

“The Federation shall establish Armed Forces for purposes of defence.” This is specified in Article 87a of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany. During the Cold War, this primarily referred to defence against a direct attack on the Federal Republic of Germany and its partners in NATO, as well as protection of the Alliance territory and the population against a potential aggressor. Today, the term “defence” is broader due to new threats such as cyberattacks and international terrorism, as well as pandemics.

White Paper 2016

You can download the White Paper on German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr here

White Paper 2016 White Paper 2016 PDF, not barrier-free, 4.3 MB

The Bundeswehr in numbers

Currently, about 265,000 men and women are employed by the Bundeswehr. Approximately 184,000 of them are military personnel, while approximately 80,000 are civilian personnel.

Major Bundeswehr equipment

Bundeswehr, the German Armed Forces, has a lot of major equipment. The picture gallery shows a selection of the most important vehicles. Learn more about Bundeswehr weapon systems.

Armed services and military organisational elements

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