In Germany, Covid management is being militarized
Since last year, Major General Carsten Breuer, as commander of the Territorial Tasks Command, has organized the Bundeswehr's administrative assistance in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Published: December 2, 2021, 11:41 am
A general with experience from operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan and the NATO Defender Europe major maneuvers will in future lead the Corona crisis team of the new German government. Breuer is called “General Corona” in the Bundeswehr.
The tasks of his command also include the operation of military training areas and practical measures in connection with host nation support, i.e. the stay of troops from allied states in Germany and their transit. In this context, Major General Breuer was tasked with assisting the advance of US troops towards the Russian border during the Defender Europe maneuvers.
He now runs the new Corona crisis team, a supposedly civil body, from an office in the Federal Chancellery. By assigning posts to a general, the new government, in which the Greens have a strong position, is pushing for the normalization of a military response to a health issue.
Italy is being touted in Berlin as a “model” for the plan to transfer the chairmanship of the crisis team to a military. There, in order to increase the low vaccination rate, the government appointed the three-star general Francesco Figliuolo as “Covid Special Commissioner” in March. Figliuolo actually managed to increase the vaccination rate significantly.
The Kosovo and Afghanistan veteran usually appears in uniform. He also has a reputation for ignoring the prescribed distribution of competencies in the state structure. In response to criticism of his appearances in military uniform, Figliuolo said: “I hope that this uniform creates trust.”
Major General Carsten Breuer is not the first soldier to lead the “civil” German Corona crisis team. The previous Corona crisis team in the Federal Ministry of Health was also headed by an officer – General Staff Doctor Hans-Ulrich Holtherm, whom Health Minister Jens Spahn appointed on March 1, 2020 as head of the new department “Health Protection, Health Security, Sustainability” in the Ministry of Health.
Holtherm, who was previously the commander and medical director of the Bundeswehr hospital in Ulm, had extensive operational experience and participated in missions abroad in Croatia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti. In 2014, he was also a member of the interdepartmental Ebola crisis team that the German government had set up specifically to coordinate the German contribution to the international response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. At that time, the Bundeswehr carried out numerous transport flights and also sent soldiers to volunteer in the areas affected by Ebola.
To coincide with the militarization of health, Germany’s defense minister in July disbanded an elite commando unit, known as the KSK, following an official report of “far-right extremism” within its ranks.
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