The Bundeswehr, or "Federal Defense Force" is the national armed force of Germany. The Bundeswehr came into existence in 1955 after much to-ing and fro-ing over whether to remilitarize Germany, and a change in the German Grundgesetz (basic law) which had previously forbidden a standing army. Article 87a of the Grundgesetz restricts the Bundeswehr to defensive action only.

The Bundeswehr is divided into three forces - Heer (army), Marine (navy), and Luftwaffe (air force), as well as separate medical and engineering divisions. Currently, the Bundeswehr consistes of approximately 280,000 soldiers in three Corps - The I Corps is basted in Münster, the II Corps is stationed at Ulm, and the IV Corps is headquartered at Potsdam. The I Corps incorporates Dutch troops, while the II Corps has American troops. Additionally, the German 5th Panzer Division serves under the United States V Corps stationed in Germany.

Bundeswehr History

  • 1955 - Bundeswehr established.
  • 1956 - Mandatory national military service established for males ages 18-45. Currently 9 months of service are required, with the alternative option of a longer civilian service assignment.
  • 1990 - The Bundeswehr merges with East Germany's Nationale Volksarmee, which is essentially disbanded.
  • 1999 - The Bundeswehr takes part in its first offensive action in conducting military airstrikes as part of NATO action against Yugoslavia.
  • 2000 - All services of the Bundeswehr are opened to women

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