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"High level of commitment" of the reserve: How the Bundeswehr is fighting the virus


              It was a week ago that Federal Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced "natural" help in the fight against the corona virus. "The Bundeswehr has a large resource – personnel," she said. That may be true for 264,000 employees in uniform and civilian clothes, but the minister explicitly relies on the support of reservists. In a daily order to the troop with the dramatic title "We are fighting an invisible enemy!" AKK wrote last Thursday: "Inestimable capabilities" of the reservists should be used sensibly. According to this, the reserve will matter, "especially if the crisis lasts longer". But who is a reservist and what help can the Bundeswehr provide? An overview of the legal basis, the reserve system and political expectations of the "citizens in uniform". Where does the Bundeswehr participate in the fight against the coronavirus? Within the troops, the task of the medical service command is basically to lead the central medical service and all female soldiers and to provide soldiers with medical services. In the meantime, the spectrum has broadened: With so-called administrative assistance, the medical service in particular also supports the fight against the pandemic in the civilian area. With the exception of Brandenburg, Hamburg, Hesse and Thuringia, the Bundeswehr is in anti-corona use in every German state. The German Air Force had already flown German nationals out of the Chinese region of Wuhan, which was particularly affected by the coronavirus, in February. What specific assistance does the Bundeswehr offer? Generally, troops support the civil authorities. In essence, it is "the procurement of medical equipment, the provision of camp beds, the care of people and the support of the authorities with helping hands", as a spokesman for the defense ministry said at the request of ntv.de. The Bundeswehr offers a detailed list of the aids in the districts on its website.What legal basis can the Bundeswehr currently use? Article 35 of the Basic Law regulates the legal basis for administrative assistance. According to this, the Bundeswehr can also be deployed domestically in the event of natural disasters or accidents, such as the devastating forest fires in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania last year or the flood disasters on the Elbe (2013) and Oder (1997) and in the admission of Syrian refugees (2015). Ergo: The Bundeswehr can provide support in civilian emergencies. However, the ministry spokesman emphasizes that each application for administrative assistance is discussed and decided on a case-by-case basis.How many personnel does the Bundeswehr have? According to this, around 183,191 soldiers are active in the Bundeswehr. The "citizens in uniform" have 80,701 civil servants. What role does the reserve play? First, the medical service command called for the mobilization of the reserve, and shortly afterwards Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer took special note of the day's order of March 19 of the reserve at. Since then there has been the "Reserve helps in the Corona crisis" campaign, for which there is the registration address [email protected] and a form. Who is a reservist at all? According to its website, the Association of Reservists of the German Armed Forces (VdRBw ) more than 115,000 members. The President is Patrick Sensburg, member of the Bundestag. In an interview with ntv.de, the lieutenant colonel of the reserve explains: "A reservist is anyone who has served in the Bundeswehr and has not lost his rank." There are also reserved reservists. "These are those who have a task force in the Bundeswehr and practice there regularly." Patrick Sensburg, member of the Bundestag, is President of the Reservists' Association. (Photo: imago images / Christian Spicker) What role does the reservists' association play in the anti-corona strategy? The reserve sees itself as a link between troops and civil society. According to Sensburg, the reservists' association must firstly communicate the Bundeswehr's requests and bring them to the reservists. This relates primarily to the members of the association. One focus is currently on "continuing to track those who may not be needed at first attempt". Reservists in particular would come into question from the logistics area. In addition, there is the coordination of voluntary reports from reservists. "There are many inquiries," says Sensburg. According to the Bundeswehr, less than 48 hours after the call, more than 2500 reports were received, not only paramedics, but also truck drivers, for example. The number has now reached more than 6,300. In addition, 28,000 reservists have already been ordered to certain positions. "The fact that thousands volunteer is a sign of great and great commitment," said Reservista Association leader Sensburg. What happens after a voluntary registration for the reserve service is received? With a voluntary registration not only the rank but also civil and military qualifications are queried. It will then be determined individually how useful exercises to refresh military knowledge are. "Of course, reinserting into the troops is first of all connected with learning. But even simple tasks at the beginning of the learning process are a relief," explains Reservista Association leader Sensburg. According to the assignment procedure, attention is paid to "at which specific points immediate relief is needed and where there is a continuous need", says Sensburg: "Think of the personnel in the Bundeswehr hospitals who are now working overtime". After all, these would have to be dismantled at some point.Where are reservists deployed? Reservists are primarily currently used in the hospitals of the Bundeswehr – if they have prior medical training. In addition, according to Sensburg, "reservists are being used more and more in the organization of personnel management in the Bundeswehr in order to process the numerous responses". At the same time, he makes it clear: "Of course we don't want reservists from the civilian medical field to report. They are needed at their normal place of work." Conversely, it is due to the current situation that many reservists are available. According to Sensburg, these could be used in the future in the field of logistics – i.e. the delivery of goods and medical material. Does a reservist deployment offer the opportunity to compensate for payment defaults in civilian life? In an information letter, the Bundeswehr points out that "all reservist service providers (RDL ) generally receive the minimum benefit under the Maintenance Insurance Act ". Reservists' association leader Sensburg advises against pragmatism in view of the current labor market situation characterized by the corona virus. "Employees and employers in the current situation can certainly benefit if a reservist serves in the Bundeswehr for a few days or weeks and thus disappears from the company's payroll." Is it now necessary to have a debate about expanding legal competencies? "We should not be debating it now," Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer recently made clear on ZDF. According to this, the Bundeswehr "has a good basis with the corresponding constitutional article on administrative assistance". The head of the Reservists Association Sensburg also sees no need for a legal discussion. The law professor rejected recently media scenarios of soldiers in front of supermarkets. "The Bundeswehr rightly does not take on police tasks," he says. Beyond the legal basis, the police are "well trained and sufficiently available." To what extent is the Bundeswehr itself affected by the corona virus? There are currently 150 confirmed infected people and 730 suspected cases within the Bundeswehr, as Kramp-Karrenbauer reported on ZDF. At the same time, the Minister of Defense emphasized that the Bundeswehr had the situation "under control".

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