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Embattled German Minister Defends EuroHawk Decision

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Ministerial Statement on Euro Hawk Development Project to the Defence Committee

(Source: German Ministry of Defence; issued June 5, 2013)

(Issued in German only; unofficial translation by defense-aerospace.com)


BERLIN --- This is the statement issued today by Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière regarding the Euro Hawk Armor project following the Defence Committee on 5 June 2013:

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today I have submitted to the Defence Committee the report of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Euro Hawk process. I have also presented my personal evaluation, and announced the consequences.

My evaluation of this process is as follows: The decision to continue to use this aircraft for training purposes until the end of September 2013, and at the same time not to procure production aircraft, as originally intended, is correct.

Also, this decision is not too late. Its timing is appropriate as it has prevented greater damage, and not increased it. Had the decision has been made earlier, it would not have been possible to benefit from the investment for training purposes. Therefore, the timing of the decision was also correct.

Nonetheless, the method had significant shortcomings. From the beginning, there was a design flaw at birth because of the different expectations on the American and the German sides. It began in 2002, 2004 to 2007, and in the following years.

Project management, that is the control process over the course of this project, was flawed and did not function, and my involvement was inadequate. The decision had been finally made at ministerial level. I then subsequently approved it.

This is not acceptable. Such a decision should have been made by myself.

For the future, among other consequences, we will change project management and we will organize the approval processes differently, while the participation of the Minister looks quite different.

Namely, I will regularly receive status reports on all major defense projects, not with “good weather” returns, but with detailed reporting of any problems and of proposed solutions.

We will then submit a report to the Defense and Budget Committees, so we can inform you of any problems at a time when corrective action is still possible.

I am reserving judgment on personnel consequences at the present time. These will depend on what results will be reported by the detailed review, namely in regarding management errors and such. I will then decide on appropriate actions, and they will be announced during a press conference.


Click here for the Ad Hoc Working Group report (85 PDF pages, German only).


Click here for the Minister’s report to the Defence Committee (13 PDF pages, in German only).

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De Maiziere Fails to Clarify Drone Debate, Expert Says

(Source: Deutsche Welle German radio; published June 5, 2013)

German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere claimed he was informed too late about the failed Euro Hawk drone project. Political scientist Christian Hacke tells DW why the minister's resignation may be appropriate.


DW: There has been considerable pressure on the defense minister in recent weeks for not having stopped the drone program sooner. He's testified before a parliamentary committee that he had hardly been involved in the project and was only later informed about the cancellation. Do you find this statement surprising?

Christian Hacke: Yes, I find the statement tremendously surprising. Since this debacle has gone public, de Maiziere has indicated that such glitches could occur. But he didn't say that this should be considered standard. What he said was that with such large projects over such long time periods, one could pretty much count on problems. I already found that to be playing down reality.

But now he's made a 180-degree turn in saying that he had no idea, implying that he considers the whole process to have been problematic. That's a skewed argument. Whether or not this is actually the case, both situations would be equally bad. At this point the question has to be asked if he's got a handle on his ministry at all. The situation for him has by no means improved.

DW: How can a minister involved in projects of such magnitude not be better informed, and how can deputy ministers be in a position to cancel the Euro Hawk project practically on their own?

Christian Hacke: This project has been running for some time now, de Maiziere's predecessors had already dealt with it. But with regard to projects of this magnitude, I cannot see how deputies could make such decisions by themselves, without involving the head of the ministry. If that was really the case, with deputy ministers allowed to do whatever they pleased, then de Maiziere didn't have the department under his control.

DW: Do you believe this is a failure on the part of de Maiziere's? Should he have actively sought out more information?

Christian Hacke: I've had a certain understanding for his position, in the sense that he does not find out about everything, or does not find out in a timely manner. But now that he's made a point of describing how the ministerial deputies went around him to cancel the project without his approval - I find that very vexing. He should really take responsibility. That's the case if he did know beforehand, which he now denies, as well as if while he is running a ministry and decisions get made without him.

DW: De Maiziere has ruled out resigning, but is reserving the option of personnel consequences in the ministry. Do you think it would be fair if he lets go his deputies?

Christian Hacke: Indeed, the question is whether the opposition and his own party would be satisfied with this. They may say that people are just being sacrificed here. I cannot judge the competency of the ministerial deputies. I also don't know if maybe they are in some kind of bureaucratic fight with the minister. But to be honest, one can't rule out the consequence that demands for de Maiziere's resignation will become louder.

DW: Are the explanations that de Maiziere provided adequate? What still remains to be clarified, in your opinion?

Christian Hacke: Until now, merely the technical, bureaucratic and financial aspects of this affair have been discussed. Which is important, and correct. But beyond that, there are so many other important questions that have not been addressed at all. What are the effects of the Euro Hawk on Germany's national security? Do drones fit into our defense strategy? And the ethical questions, summarized by the idea of death by joystick: Who is allowed to kill, and who will be killed? Not to mention the global dimension: How do these drones contribute to an arms race? At this point the West has a monopoly on drones, but that doesn't mean that authoritarian states won't someday also have drones.

All of these topics have been completely left out, and also received short shrift in de Maiziere's appearance before the parliamentary committee. That's why I say that the debate taking place for years in Berlin has been provincial, and the minister has in no way brought clarity to these issues.


Christian Hacke is professor emeritus at the Institute for Political Science and Sociology at the University of Bonn.

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