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Doubts emerge about army chief's sackings

The Local · 12 Dec 2009, 15:34

Published: 12 Dec 2009 15:34 GMT+01:00

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In a revelation that is likely to put more pressure on Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, reports in Der Spiegel magazine and Sunday newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung say that the Defence Ministry may not have given the real reasons for last month's sacking of Chief of Staff Wolfgang Schneiderhan and ministry official Peter Wichert.

Up until now, the official reason for the sackings had been that Schneiderhan and Wichert had answered 'no' when asked by Guttenberg whether there were any reports, other than a NATO report, on the fatal air strike in Afghanistan on September 4 which killed 142 people.

Guttenberg told Schneiderhan and Wichert within hours of the meeting that they no longer had his support.

But according to new information, possibly leaked from the circle of the two men, both Schneiderhan and Wichert told Defence Minister Guttenberg of four other reports, including a two-page report by Colonel Georg Klein, who ordered the attack, a military police report critical of Klein's decision, the report of another German colonel from an "Initial Action" inspection team, as well as a report from the International Red Cross.

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Wichert subsequently wrote a letter to Guttenberg asking the Ministry to correct the allegation that they had failed to mention any other reports. No such correction to the official version has been made.

Story continues below…

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:56 December 12, 2009 by Henckel
This is one of the pitfalls of civilian control of the military. It would appear, on the face of it, that the Defense Ministry twisted the words of Generalinspekteur Schneiderhan and Staatsekretaer Wichert in order to sack them. While it may have been necessary to make a clean sweep of leadership at some point following the scandal over the Kunduz airstrike, but the way in which it was done certainly appears mean and underhanded.
18:06 December 12, 2009 by maxbrando
There are no pitfalls to the civilian control of any military. Remember your history when guys in jackboots took over for 12 years.
18:36 December 12, 2009 by wxman

While I agree with the premise that civilian control of the military is ideal, I disagree with what you offer as proof. There WAS civilian control of the military those 12 years. Unfortunately, those civilians were power hungry lunatics bent on world domination!
18:54 December 12, 2009 by Frenemy
The military must ALWAYS have civilian oversight in matters of accountability and legislation. But should NEVER have civilian (controlling) oversight in operational execution/tactical doctrine...ever! (if you doubt that, see Schliefen Plan and Operation Barbarossa)
19:18 December 12, 2009 by Yontrop

Of course there are pitfalls to civilian control of the military. There are pitfalls in everything. You might want to remember that Hitler was a civilian. That said, of course it's better to have the military under civilian administration. Modern democracy can't exit without it. The problem here is with democracy itself. You can't have a democracy without politics, and politicians sometimes deceive people to stay in power. So stay awake and keep an eye on your politicians and don't expect easy answers...unless you think it's too much trouble, and like President Paul von Hindenburg are tired of going into those little voting booths.
19:47 December 12, 2009 by Frenemy
"Modern democracy can't exit without it."

hehehe....I know it was just a typo, but the irony is still funny!
20:04 December 12, 2009 by Yontrop
...my point exactly; there are pitfalls with everything...spellcheckers too.
22:20 December 12, 2009 by lordwilliams629
BonnBonn it's been awhile baby, how those big jugs hanging?
15:48 December 13, 2009 by mixxim
What a sad leadership Germany now has. In 1945 it took the combined efforts of the rest of the world to beat you. Now you beat yourselves.
15:51 December 13, 2009 by Frenemy
...its tragic!
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