German led military leadership seminar at SA National War College


The SA National War College in Centurion is this week hosting a leadership seminar for the Joint Senior Command and Staff Programme.

With active participation from senior officers in the German Bundeswehr the five day seminar will give those on course information on the German armed forces leadership principles and philosophy, mission experience and some insight into the constantly changing demands on German men and women in uniform according to Captain Tebogo August of Ad Astra, the SA Air Force (SAAF) publication.

Topics to be covered during the week include democratic control of armed forces, the ombudsman institution embedded in the German parliament, disciplinary rights, political education, military religious support and ethics, legal framework for the Bundeswehr, rights and duties of German soldiers and women in United Nations (UN) missions with particular reference to UN resolution 1325 and a barrier study of the German armed forces.

The German delegation is led by Colonel Hans-Jürgen Elsen and Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich v. Bismarck, seminar leader and lecturer.

In his presentation Elsen went into the importance of training soldiers ethically, politically and socially and they are of the opinion with better personality traits, they can be better analysts and handle orders better the SAAF reporter wrote.

“We have observed young leaders can be impatient at times, we need to steer them to be patient. Another vital aspect is communication. We encourage dialogue and open dialogue, we want them to think for themselves but do not subscribe to the notion of instilling fear. We advocate an open door policy listening to subordinates, no matter what time of the day is. It is essential we instruct and motivate, also incentivise soldiers to try again when they fail, by creating space for improvement and growth.

“For me, that means each soldier can reach me at all times, they have my numbers and they can reach out to me at any time, they know what sort of topics they can bring to me,” Elsen is reported as telling the seminar.

He went on to say welfare and care are part of civic education adding military leaders should always be just and to be truthful – although not always possible, but it should always be aspired to. “We are not overly familiar with subordinates, that’s not necessary, we know we cannot do that, we show vigour and strictness when needed.”

Another point the Bundeswehr feels strongly about, is motivation – they believe it should always stand out.

“Commanders’ true strengths motivate soldiers while adequate equipment and the right training with the right mind a helps achieve required results. It is evident one cannot achieve without mutual trust. This is why it is important to engage and approach every situation with an open mind. When we are authentic and trust each other, we can overcome unnecessary stresses during operations,” part of Bismarck’s presentation went.