National defense

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Under defense to all national defense effort goes a country as opposed to collective defense .

Situation in Germany


Organization of the Territorial Defense Command responsible for national military defense 1957–1969
Structure of the territorial army of the Bundeswehr 1969–1992
Structure of the territorial army of the Bundeswehr 1992–2001
Division of the defense areas 2001–2012

The term national defense was used both in the Federal Republic of Germany and in the German Democratic Republic .

In NATO's understanding , overall defense consisted of joint defense under the leadership and responsibility of the NATO commanders and national defense under national responsibility. National defense was again divided into military national defense and civil defense .

The tasks of civil defense were to maintain governmental power, protect and supply the population, develop and maintain national resources and support the armed forces. For this she made use of the administrative authorities, the Federal Border Police , the police and civil aid organizations.

The military national defense served the establishment, training and maintenance of the armed forces, their logistics and their security. For this purpose, the Bundeswehr had the territorial defense organization, basic logistics, replacement forces and the Bundeswehr administration . The territorial forces were initially grouped into six military area commands under the Command for Territorial Defense , which in turn was directly subordinate to the Federal Ministry. In 1969 they were assigned to the army under the name Territorial Army, with three territorial commands being set up as a further management level .

Since 1990

After 1990, aspects of Germany's national defense faded into the background as the direct threat to German territory decreased noticeably. In 1992 the territorial forces were partially merged with the field army , with the loss of the territorial commands. The Defense Policy Guidelines of 1992 dispensed with the term national defense and instead spoke of protecting Germany and its citizens from external danger and political blackmail .

The Defense Policy Guidelines of 2003 state:

Skills that are used exclusively for traditional national defense against conventional attackers are no longer required in view of the new international environment.


The task of traditional national defense is being replaced by the more comprehensive concept of protecting Germany and its citizens.

Since 2001, the armed forces base has been responsible for the territorial tasks within which the armed forces support command has four military area commands.

With the Defense Policy Guidelines of 2011, national defense is addressed in a new form. It is listed first among the tasks of the Bundeswehr:

National defense as an alliance defense within the framework of the North Atlantic Alliance

National defense in the classic sense is seen as part of the national task of homeland security . In the course of the reclassification of the Bundeswehr, a Territorial Tasks Command will be set up in the course of 2012, which will be directly subordinate to the Inspector of the Armed Forces Base and which will be responsible for national defense tasks.

Situation in Austria

In Austria as a non-aligned state, there is no distinction between common and national defense. In this respect, all defense measures are attributable to national defense. The task of national military defense corresponds to the designation of the Austrian Ministry of Defense as the Federal Ministry for National Defense . National defense is anchored in the federal constitutional law as comprehensive national defense .

Situation in Switzerland

Since the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Switzerland has been obliged under international law to maintain its neutrality . The law of neutrality is recognized under international law and has been codified in the Hague Agreement on Neutrality since 1907 . The cautious foreign policy, that is, the non-interference in so-called foreign trades (these are armed conflicts between foreign states), is considered the basis for the historical success of the small state of Switzerland since the Stans agreement .

According to federal law, Swiss national defense includes

The Swiss army has according to Federal Constitution Article 58 of the following tasks:

  • it serves to prevent war and contributes to the maintenance of peace .
  • it defends the country and its people.
  • it supports the civil authorities in warding off serious threats to internal security and in dealing with other extraordinary situations.

The army is organized according to the militia principle . The use of the army is a federal responsibility. Securing space and national defense is the army's core mission. The army is supposed to secure and defend the territory of Switzerland . To this end, Switzerland relies on the deterrent effect (named in Switzerland with the French term dissuasion ) of the Swiss army's constant readiness to fight.


Individual evidence

  1. a b c Military History Research Office (ed.). Defense in the alliance - planning, building and proving the Bundeswehr 1950 - 1972 . Munich 1975. ISBN 3-7637-5137-8 , p. 101 ff.
  2. ↑ Collective of authors. Timeline of the military history of the German Democratic Republic 1949–1984 . Berlin 1985. Order no. 746 748 4
  3. Defense Policy Guidelines 1992 ( Memento of the original from September 28, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Defense Policy Guidelines 2003 (PDF; 326 kB)
  5. Defense Policy Guidelines 2011
  6. Outline at, accessed on March 18, 2012.
  7. ^ National defense in Swiss federal law


  1. since 2009 Federal Ministry for National Defense and Sport