The German Feldjägers are the Military Police of the Bundeswehr.
The German Feldjägers are the Military Police of the Bundeswehr.
Founded on 24th November 1740 by the Prussian King Frederick the Great (1712¬1786), Feldjäger corps originates from more than 275-year-long tradition. At that time, the Feldjägers were certainly not connected to MP. This light infantry force, mainly consisting of hunters and foresters equipped with their own rifles, was not used for combat but for scouting, sniping and providing messenger services.
The first modern Feldjäger unit was activated on 6th October 1955 when the bill establishing the Bundeswehr was signed. Through the decades the German Feldjäger developed extensively.
Nowadays, the Feldjäger "capital” is Hannover where the German MP Command, as well as the Bundeswehr Military Police and Headquarters Service School are located. Three Feldjäger regiments with a total of 24 companies are stationed around Germany.
The current Feldjäger crest, which refers to the roots of the Feldjägers, consists of three Prussian elements, i.e the star of the Prussians King’s guards, the historic Order of the Black Eagle (highest Prussian order of chivalry) and its motto "Suum Cuique” (Latin translating "To each his own”).
STRENGTH — about 2700 Feldjägers.
In 2013, the Feldjäger forces underwent a major restructuring. Since then, the German MP Command has had a full command of the three Feldjäger regiments and the Bundeswehr Military Police and Headquarters Service School.
- In parallel with operational commitments, Feldjäger support in Germany is provided throughout the country, and the performance of day-to-day tasks remains unchanged. In the future, consistent prioritisation and a focus on the functional core responsibilities will permit this support to be rendered by 24 companies.
- Feldjäger support (including physical security) for the second official seat of the German Ministry of Defence (MoD) will be continuously provided.
- A company-strength unit will be kept ready for military evacuation operations; standby commitments (EUBG, NRF) will be supported by a corresponding component of forces and capabilities on the basis of German’s overall contribution.
- The Feldjäger forces earmarked for deployment will be put together in a modular fashion according to their core and specialised capabilities and in compliance with their mandate under international law.
- In parallel with the support provided to the routine operations of the Bundeswehr, the following troops can be sustainably provided at the same time: a Feldjäger task force with three Feldjäger companies and command personnel for a level-appropriate contribution to multinational HQs, and one company for the second theatre.
- In addition, a company-strength Feldjäger unit will be kept on standby in Germany for national crisis prevention, for military evacuation operations, and for providing troops for standby commitments (NATO Response Force - NRF, European Union Battle Group - EUBG, etc).
- The two rapid-response companies will provide the functional area of the MP Service with an adapted response and escalation capability with respect to situations on deployments, thereby contributing to expanding the overall options in line with a networked security approach.
- For national defence/alliance defence, the major army formation to be deployed then will be supported by a Feldjäger task force consisting of up to five companies.
On the basis of the national level of ambition, we can assume that the constant commitment of Feldjäger forces due to ongoing operations will continue in the future. Since 2000, about 200 to 250 military policemen have at any time been deployed in several parallel operations of different intensity and various capability requirements.
It was therefore particularly important that a structure for the German MP Command as a future force provider for all Feldjäger forces of the Bundeswehr should be developed, that will permit the Command to adequately adhere to the stipulated principle of mission-orientation and rise to future challenges in terms of administrative and technical issues.
As far as the implementation of the Bundeswehr tasks is concerned, the sub¬task that "the Bundeswehr must be enabled to perform military police functions worldwide across the entire spectrum of missions and at all levels of intensity" defines the German Feldjäger. This requirement results in a specific mission profile consisting of three major areas:
- Feldjäger duties in Germany (routine),
- Feldjäger operations in Germany (except for routine operations, such as administrative assistance, disaster relief, etc.),
- Feldjäger operations abroad (national and international MP functions).
The six core capabilities of the German Feldjägers are within those areas,
which encompass Feldjäger Support with home, area and point defence, military law enforcement, inquiries and investigations, security operations, military custody duties, and military traffic control.
Feldjäger support with home, area and point defence
The previous core responsibility of area and point defence has been expanded to also encompass home defence. The Feldjäger contribution to home defence involves all capabilities of the Bundeswehr for the protection of the country and its citizens on German territory. In pursuance of this task, the Bundeswehr, at the request of Federal, state or municipal authorities and in compliance with its constitutional powers, will inter alia provide assistance in Germany during natural disasters and grave accidents, with the protection of the critical infrastructure, and in the event of internal emergency. In close cooperation with authorities and organisations tasked with security-related issues, the Feldjägers, may take on a purposefully supporting role within the spectrum of territorial tasks of the Bundeswehr, thereby complementing the efforts undertaken by civilian authorities. Operations in the event of non-peaceful demonstrations during foreign deployments (crowd and riot control, CRC) have also become part of the newly defined core responsibility of Feldjäger support with home, area and point defence.
Military law enforcement
Military law enforcement remains the primary core function for all Feldjägers. The Feldjägers support disciplinary and complaints courts, Disciplinary Attorneys for the Armed Forces and other judicial bodies, as well as assist commanding officers in maintaining order and discipline by patrolling main roads, railway stations, etc. Additionally, Feldjägers are engaged in securing major events of the Bundeswehr.
Inquiries and Investigations
One of the sub-tasks of inquiries and investigations is providing support with the collection of biometric data. Feldjägers may render support in the following fields: inquiries and investigations for commanding officers, military custody duties on foreign deployments, police-type tasks in maintaining law and order while on deployments abroad, and inquiries/investigations in the event of serious incidents or on behalf of international organisations on foreign deployments. The support rendered will take the form of collecting, processing and utilising biometric data for an appropriate identification of individuals as part of the Bundeswehr's mission accomplishment. During scene of incident & scene of crime investigations and the collection of forensic evidence in the aftermath of security incidents or criminal offences committed on deployment abroad, various items of evidential material are regularly secured or seized; these are of vital importance to the investigation by the German judiciary of incidents or criminal offences. Items of evidential material are preserved in fully documented form and in such a way that they may be used as evidence in court. Also, they may be transferred to Germany to be available for further investigations or as evidence in possible court proceedings.
Security operations, as the supreme discipline of the Feldjägers’ functional area have become significantly more specialised. In fact, this is a new focus of responsibility. The employment of narcotic and explosives sniffer dogs, SWAT operations, close protection, as well as negotiations in Feldjäger situations, are all part and parcel of security operations. The latter capability is intended to enable Feldjäger elements to apply de-escalating and mediating techniques in special situations such as CRC. By using these specially trained soldiers, mistakes in dealing with parties to a conflict/offenders are to be avoided, and superiors who have no special training in this field are to be relieved of some of their work. The fact that the Feldjägers will make a significant contribution to humanitarian relief operations is another novelty. The special focus of this task will be to establish a safe framework for humanitarian efforts. The support provided by relief organisations is indispensable to the development of democratic structures so as to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life (nation-building).
Military Custody Duties
The core responsibilities of military custody duties has for a long time been deemed exceptionally important internationally. In the course of the reorientation of the Bundeswehr, these duties came to be appreciated as an important element of enabling the Bundeswehr to perform Feldjäger functions across the entire spectrum of intensity. The responsibilities of military custody duties encompasses handling detainees, questioning and interrogating them, and cooperating with national/international authorities/organisations and non¬governmental organisations.
Mobility Traffic Control
Military traffic control, beyond the traditional duties such as checking Bundeswehr vehicles or escorting hazardous goods, large-capacity and heavy-duty military transports, has been expanded to encompass handling refugees, as well as the highly prestigious specialisation of MP escort and guide services. Motorcycles are often used in military traffic control and have therefore been assigned to this core responsibility.
Despite this apparently MP-centered approach, a Feldjäger is foremost a soldier, secondly a Feldjäger with profound knowledge of all core and sub-functions, and finally a specialist in one, sometimes two sub-functions, e.g. crime scene investigator, dog handler, bodyguard, etc.
As the Military Police of the German armed forces, the Feldjägers have a clearly defined range of rights which they can rely on while in service. These are given to them to check compliance with military regulations on the one hand and, on the other hand, ensure that the military and civilian personnel of the armed forces follow the rules. Below, the major rights of the Feldjägers are explained.
Firstly, referring to the regulations on superiors, the Feldjägers while on duty, are superior to all soldiers due to their special field of duty. While they are mainly responsible for performing security tasks all over Germany, they are not superior to military guards whose main task is to secure military bases. Furthermore, the Feldjägers are not superior to soldiers who are superior to the Feldjägers themselves.
Secondly, in terms of military law, they have to enforce orders and, in case of civilian employees of the Bundeswehr, military instructions in an appropriate manner, which may also include the use of force. The basis for the latter is that the Feldjägers adhere to the principle of proportionality. However, they are not allowed to use guns to enforce orders.
Thirdly, the Feldjägers belong to the authorised personnel that are, by special law, allowed to use force. Additionally, this special law, under certain circumstances, confers further rights on them, such as the identification and search of individuals, confiscations, the use of force in different forms (batons, weapons, etc.).
Moreover, this law gives the Feldjägers the right to declare certain areas, such as aircraft crash sites, military security zones when the overall situation requires such measures to be taken. In this case, the leader of the Feldjägers will automatically get the rights and duties of a military guard.
There are several more laws permitting the Feldjägers to arrest individuals, for example in a bid to re-establish military order.
Finally, when there are no special regulations the Feldjägers can rely on and may avail themselves of what is called everyman’s rights such as self-defence.