Internal leadership – a long ago „obsolete” service manual or a living requirement?

Andreas Berns


1. Issue of operation: Internal leadership is operation-compatible. This has to be borne in mind when the respective service manual is re-formulated. According to this critique, it also has to be formulated clearly when using central ethical terms which express the reality. Thus, it is postulated that things ought to be called what they are, because they reflect the soldier’s reality of life and environment, which – on his part – challenge humanity as a whole, instead of worming them in a “quasied and unworldly”, for the persons concerned “stilted” officalese. The former ZDv 10/1, however, here and there had left the “trail of reality” not only with its used form of expression, but presumably had also taken winding courses when choosing the words expressing the ethos of origin. These courses are partly directed historically backwards and might lead into “normative blankness” or even into “ethical meaninglessness”. Without reference to the question, whether this turning away – for instance in favour of modernization reflexes existing at that time – happened knowingly or unknowingly, this original basic alignment ought to be re-established swiftly according to its original version, and not to be “softened” (further) or partly or totally given up, not even for the ethos compatibility of joint European armed forces; this ethos, which was coined by Baudissin, is already a part of the historically grown identity of Germany, and thus also a part of European reality.


2. Issue of legitimation: The – in the very sense of the word - „self-assured” acting of the persons in charge of the armed forces is also a part of lived internal leadership. Internal leadership does not primarily relate with operation, because both the peace-ethical alignment demanded by the Basic Law and the respective legitimation are obvious. The antagonisms between politics, law and ethos exposed in this analysis, as well as a respective procuration and perception of these inconsistencies concerning the question of legitimacy, can diminish or even query the motivation and sense of the mission, although the Basic Law does not tolerate such an inconsistency in its intrinsic sense.

3. Issue of identity: Internal leadership is supposed to endow identity for all the armed forces, not only for the military leaders. The current self-conception “We. Serve. Germany.“ means – in the truest sense of these words – „self-conceptional“ – not only for the military persons in charge, but also every female and male soldier with her and his position, against the background of the task assigned to her or to him. Safeguarding internal leadership ought to be a „self-conceptional“ part of military leadership perception, and thus also of the leadership philosophy of all female and male soldiers. This, however, does not mean going so far as to understand internal leadership first and foremost as mere leadership philosophy.


4. Issue of self-conception: Baudissin has chosen a deliberate turning away from an army in whose centre are soldierly virtues alone. Internal leadership will prove if it is understood in its basic destination direction and with an appropriate, i.e. authentic use of accurate terms, and not as an intractable disaccord between obedience and conscience. On the contrary, internal leadership is to be perceived and applied as a deliberate and intended suspense, and its especial mission is permanent equilibrating these powers. A re-formulation of such a manual should not be allowed to query the substance and the ethical basic statements. The basis for efficient internal leadership is ethically advocating the idea of an “army in democracy for democracy” – with the appropriate means and methods included – and serving this peace-centred ethos.