Being fair to the Germans, the renunciation of military means in favour of economic and political means to realise German extra-territorial ambitions is a good thing. As long as the problem of lebensraum remains (as it still does), as long as Germany is still too big for her borders, then European federal union remains the only game in town. However, so terrified is Germany of any hint of a return to her militaristic past that, as Der Spiegel reports, she risks being sidelined by an unwillingness to join the gung-ho big boys' adventures such as Libya.
My sympathies really do go out to Germany on this. She's sticking fast to the extra-territorial use of the Bundeswehr solely for either peacekeeping or post-conflict reconstruction; this was stretched a little by then Defense Minister Peter Struck for operations in Afghanistan, who extended not the extra-territorial remit but the Bundeswehr's Home Defence remit, characteriused as 'Defence in the Hindu Kush' against an asymetric threat. However, Libya was a step too far. There was no credible threat to Germany, and the mission didn't fit either the peacekeeping or reconstruction remits. So Germany declined to join-in.
Der Spiegel reports;
In January, representatives of the NATO member states attended the traditional Defense Planning Symposium at the NATO school in the Bavarian town of Oberammergau. The figures that German Brigadier General Ansgar Rieks presented to the partners were greeted with amazement. The attendees wanted to know why, after completion of the Bundeswehr reforms, only 10,000 of up to 185,000 German troops are to be available for foreign missions.
But take a look at Germany's other commitments. As part of the 'European Headline Goal' - the ability to respond to an international crisis without the USA - she provides 32,000 troops (18,000 at any time) to the European Rapid Reaction Force. The German contribution includes armoured, air assault, and light infantry brigade headquarters and seven combat battalions. The Air Force provides core elements of air component headquarters, six combat squadrons with 93 aircraft, eight surface-to-air missile squadrons, and air transport. The Navy makes available maritime headquarters, 13 combat ships and support elements. Furthermore, the Bundeswehr is manning a permanent military operations headquarters at Potsdam, which can be transformed into the core element of a multinational operational headquarters.
Germany also had 7,000 troops committed to Bosnia heading the SFOR reconstruction efforts there, and maintains a large number under EUFOR, and had some 3,000 committed to Afghanistan.
The loud noises now coming from NATO are around Germany's contribution to something that came out of the 2002 NATO Prague summit, at the USA's suggestion, of a NATO Response Force (NRF) of some 21,000 troops capable of being airlifted long distances at short notice. Not only does an unconditional commitment to such a force not chime with Germany's extra territorial remit, but the troops Germany has allocated to the Prague Commitment are, erm, exactly the same troops committed at the same time to the European Rapid Reaction Force. And she's made clear that their extra-territorial deployment must be cleared in advance by the German Parliament. Not what an economically-challenged US-dominated NATO wants to hear, clearly, from Europe's strongest economy. And hence, I suspect, the whispering campaign that has given us the Der Spiegel piece.