The Bundeswehr (German for “Federal Defence”) is the unified armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities. The States of Germany are not allowed to maintain armed forces of their own, since the German Constitution states that matters of defense fall into the sole responsibility of the federal government.
The Bundeswehr is divided into a military part (armed forces or Streitkräfte) and a civil part with the armed forces administration (Wehrverwaltung). The military part of the federal defense force consists of the Heer (Army), Marine (Navy), Luftwaffe (Air Force), Streitkräftebasis (Joint Support Service), and the Zentraler Sanitätsdienst (Joint Medical Service) branches.
The Bundeswehr is among the world’s most technologically advanced and best-supplied militaries, as befits Germany’s overall economic prosperity and significant military industry. However, with military expenditures amounting only to 1.35% of the GDP (2012), it is also amongst the lowest budgeted militaries in the world in terms of share of GDP. As of September 2013, the Bundeswehr has a strength of roughly 183,000 active troops, making it the 30th largest military force in the world and the fourth largest in the European Union, behind the armed forces of France, Italy and the United Kingdom. In addition the Bundeswehr has approximately 144,000 reserve personnel (2010).
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Sections of the Bundeswehr
The Feldjäger is the name given to the military police of the Bundeswehr, Germany’s armed forces. Their emblem is the historic Order of the Black Eagle which has as its motto Suum Cuique (Latin meaning “To each his own,” a phrase derived from Cicero). The term Feldjäger, literally meaning field huntsmen or field Jäger, has a long tradition and dates back to the mid-17th century.
KSK Kommando Spezialkräfte (Special Forces Command, KSK) is an elite special forces military unit composed of special operations soldiers handpicked from the ranks of Germany’s Bundeswehr and organized under the Rapid Forces Division. KSK has received many decorations and awards from NATO, the United States and its affiliates and KSK operatives are frequently requested for joint anti-terror operations, notably in the Balkans and Middle East.