Joint Support and Enabling Service
An excavator is driving along a road in use. A soldier stands in front of it.
Bundeswehr/Björn Kapfer

On Operations

They are in most cases the first ones on site and among the last ones to leave the country of deployment. Whether camp construction, military police, explosives detection dogs, CBRN defense or military postal service – operations are often more about the Joint Support and Enabling Service than supposed. In addition, the latter also provides the…

What does the Joint Support and Enabling Service do on operations?

The Joint Support and Enabling Service is of central significance for Bundeswehr operations and provides more than 20 percent of the personnel employed on operations. Military police personnel, for example, are an integral part of almost every mission including also the areas of operation at sea. If a decision is made in favor of a new mission, the special engineers of the Joint Support and Enabling Service are often tasked with doing initial reconnaissance on site and preparing the setup of a camp. During operations, they are responsible for operating the entire camp and disassembling it at the end of the mission. However, also other areas of logistics such as maintenance, supply, post exchange (a kind of mini supermarket on operations) or military postal service are urgently needed during operations on site. For specific operations, the Joint Support and Enabling Service also provides the assets needed for CBRN defense and CIMIC.

Command and control capabilities for operations

Global crisis management for the United Nations, NATONorth Atlantic Treaty Organization and the EUEuropean Union calls for the assumption of responsibility. Within the Bundeswehr, the responsibility for planning and command and control of these missions may be assumed by the Joint Support and Enabling Service, or to be more exact, by the Multinational Joint Headquarters Ulm. And this also at very short notice. For logistic operations, the Joint Support and Enabling Service is able to provide to NATONorth Atlantic Treaty Organization a deployable multinational headquarters, the so-called "Joint Logistics Support Group Headquarters" (JLSG HQ). Structurally, the latter may be adapted to the prevailing operational requirements.

What does "deployment at home" mean?

The Bundeswehr is most visible and closest to the German population whenever it is employed in support of civilian organizations during natural disasters and grave accidents in Germany. From a purely legal point of view, activities such as piling up sandbags at dykes, cutting lanes during forest fires or clearing roofs of loads of snow come under the term "administrative assistance". The Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany stipulates the various levels of external circumstances that may result in the employment of servicemen and women in Germany.

This article of the German Basic Law regulates the obligation of federal and Land authorities to render legal and administrative assistance to one another at request for the accomplishment of their tasks under public law (official acts). This is also applicable to the Bundeswehr and does result in any additional sovereign powers of intervention for the Bundeswehr. It is merely "technical" assistance. Such assistance refers not only to the aforementioned examples of support during floods, snow disasters or forest fires, but also to the services of the Bundeswehr in connection with refugee aid, search missions for missing people and other help requests.

In order to respond to a natural disaster or a grave accident (so-called disaster relief), a Land may call for the assistance of police forces of other Länder or of personnel and facilities of other administrative authorities, or of armed forces or of the Federal Border Police. Natural disasters are states of imminent danger or major damage caused by natural events. Particularly severe accidents are damaging events of a disastrous extent, if the course of the accident has already set in. They may range, for example, from a large-scale chemical accident to a large-scale act of terrorism. And in this context, it may happen that the employment of service personnel at home will not be limited to providing technical assistance (administrative assistance pursuant to Article 35, Paragraph 1, German Basic Law), but extended to rendering support in the accomplishment of sovereign police tasks to include the use of sovereign powers of coercion and intervention in accordance with Article 35, Paragraph 2, Sentence 2, German Basic Law at the request of the Land concerned. However, this is done at all times under the leadership and responsibility of the relevant police authority and in accordance with valid Land police legislation.

The article regulates the employment, if the territory of more than one Land is endangered, the Federal Government may instruct the Land governments to place police forces at the disposal of other Länder and may deploy units of the armed forces to support the police.

Deployment at home in a so-called internal emergency is regulated in Article 87 a, Paragraph 4 of the German Basic Law. This article allows the Federal Government to employ armed forces to support the police and the Federal Border Police to avert an imminent danger to the existence or free democratic basic order of the Federation or of a Land, if the Land where such danger is imminent is not itself willing or able to combat the danger and forces of the police and the Federal Border Police are insufficient. In this case, the armed forces may be employed to support in protecting civilian property and in combating organized and armed insurgents.

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