B.Ioterrorist attacks can affect Germany and its allies at least as much as attacks with conventional weapons – but they are more likely and, in combination with cyberattacks on the health infrastructure, may pose a strong threat. According to the Bundeswehr medical service, this is a lesson from the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a position paper, the inspector of the medical service Ulrich Baumgärtner therefore proposes a comprehensive strengthening of all medical components of the Bundeswehr. The medical system has proven itself in the current pandemic, but is dependent on improvements in order to be able to survive in both military and civil crises in the future.
The General Oberstabsarzt and his staff propose to accelerate procurement projects for medical care for the Bundeswehr and for civil society and to provide budget funds for this. After the medical service has already taken over parts of the medical procurement from the central armaments office in Koblenz, Baumgärtner is now demanding that the entire procurement and associated personnel be obtained for the medical service.
The medical service as an instrument of politics
For the first, already approved step, a new procurement organization in the Medical Service Command has been prepared in the past few months, which is to start work by June. However, no personnel from the Armaments Office has yet been “moved” to this end. According to the as yet unpublished position paper, it is only with more efficient and faster procurement that “rapid innovation cycles in science and technology can be kept up”. The current procurement processes could “currently not keep pace. In the future, it must be possible to regenerate material more quickly and apply technical innovations. “
Baumgärtner, who has held his office since 2018, told the FAZ: “Investments in the future of the medical service contribute to state resilience and open up a wide range of options for political action.” From his point of view, the medical service can also act as a political instrument , “From the internationally recognized signal of solidarity” such as recently with Portugal or before during the Ebola crisis in West Africa to the support of long-term missions such as in Mali or Afghanistan. The level of equipment, the position paper goes on to say, “largely determines the value of the work”.
In order to be better prepared for future major medical situations in Germany, the medical service suggests setting up a network of partner hospitals. The five Bundeswehr hospitals are not sufficient. The current pandemic, so the obvious hope, has possibly also shown to parts of society that are more critical of the military what the Bundeswehr can do. In contrast to the civilian medical facilities, the armed forces are also “the only elements in the health system that have their own reserve in times of crisis”, namely the medical regiments, which are mostly stationed near the Bundeswehr hospitals. The medical service also advocates linking research expertise of the armed forces – for example in Bundeswehr institutes for microbiology, toxicology, preventive medicine or radiobiology – across departments with other civil research associations.
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