Administrative assistance in the flood disaster, management from the Chancellery in the Corona crisis, the establishment of a domestic command and control: Lieutenant General Carsten Breuer, who is being inducted into the position of the highest-ranking soldier in the Bundeswehr, has held key positions several times when things were difficult.
Apparently he convinced Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (both SPD) of his abilities. The 58-year-old Breuer is now the man who should bring momentum to the sluggishly started turning point and turn the Bundeswehr into a broadly combat-capable troop.
Breuer joined the Bundeswehr in 1984. When he began his service in an anti-aircraft regiment and soon afterwards completed officer training at the army anti-aircraft school in Rendsburg (Schleswig-Holstein), the confrontation between East and West was still raging in Europe, the Cold War. In his younger years, Breuer was a troop instructor for the later disbanded army air defense and is thus an expert in the use of the anti-aircraft gun tank Gepard, which Germany gave to the Ukraine to ward off Russian air attacks. In such a military career, posts as commander and political assignments, such as in the ministry, alternate. In 2015 and 2016, Breuer was project officer for the white paper on the future of the Bundeswehr.
Breuer doesn't like hearing the term Corona General as much as you can tell from his facial expression. But it also seems clear: The fact that Scholz brought the General to the Chancellery as head of the Corona crisis team was unusual and was also understood as a vote of confidence.
respect for the task
Almost exactly a year ago, Breuer described the moment when the phone rang. "Such a phone call is announced in advance. But until this phone call I couldn't imagine why the then Minister Scholz was calling me. I only found that out during the phone call," said the General of the German Press Agency. "We briefly exchanged views on the situation, and he, the current chancellor, then asked me if I was willing to take over the management of the crisis team in the Federal Chancellery." He agreed with a proper respect for the task.
A few months later, Breuer was back in the Julius-Leber barracks in Berlin, where he set up the new territorial command for domestic operations. He announced that he wanted to quickly improve the ability to react to targeted destabilization. A "hybrid influence on Germany's security architecture, i.e. this situation in which you have to say that it's not quite peace anymore, but it's not quite war yet" is the "worst case" for the command, said the lieutenant general.
So now inspector general. The Dresden decree from 2012 stipulates that the Inspector General is the highest-ranking soldier, responsible for the overall concept and military adviser to the federal government. There were once solid indications that under the then largely failed defense minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD), a kind of disempowerment of the inspector general within the hierarchy of the ministry was planned. But that's old news.
When Scholz visited the new command at the end of February, he said little publicly, but the praise was unmistakable. He has the impression "that everyone is internally motivated and is now moving things forward at a faster pace than was perhaps the case before, which also have to be implemented really quickly."