Rebuilding Germany: Lessons for Defence Engagement

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A lecture by Major General John Henderson, General Officer Commanding British ForcRebuilding Germany: Lessons for Defence Engagementes Germany.

With defence engagement at the top of the agenda for Army 2020, and recent experience in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan, the reconstruction of Germany after the Second World War stands out as arguably the most successful operation of its type in modern history; from dictatorship to democracy in four years and onto unprecedented economic prosperity. This often overlooked operation puts our more recent efforts into perspective.

As the Army prepares to leave Germany after a permanent presence of seventy years, and in response to these drivers, Headquarters British Forces Germany conducted a Staff Ride in June 2013. This study focussed on the activities of the British element of the Control Commission for Germany between the end of the Second World War in May 1945 and the formation of the Federal Republic in September 1949.

In his lecture, Major General Henderson will discuss the span of activities and the skills that were utilised, which contain lessons for the future capabilities of the British Army, particularly for the Army Reserve, where identifying those people whose skills we may not need for peacetime soldiering, but whom we will need for post-conflict reconstruction and defence engagement is crucial. More importantly perhaps, he will remind us of the inestimable contribution that our predecessors made to the success of Europe’s largest democracy and most successful economy. 

Major General John Henderson has served as an officer in Germany in every rank from Second Lieutenant, and commanded at every level from platoon to brigade. He commanded 2 Battalion REME during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and as a Colonel commanded the UK-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Mazar-e Sharif in Afghanistan in 2004.  He returned to Germany as Deputy Chief of Staff in Headquarters 1st Armoured Division in Herford and thereafter commanded 102 Logistic Brigade and Gütersloh Garrison. He returned to Afghanistan, this time to Kandahar, to command the UK's Joint Force Support formation. On return to the UK after fourteen years abroad, he became the Army's Logistics Director for three years, leading the re-organisation of the Army's support elements in the Strategic Defence and Security Review. He was a member at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London, before taking command of British Forces Germany on promotion to Major General in August 2012.

An optional £10 sandwich lunch shall be available from 1215.

This event is open to all RUSI members. To become a member, please click here.


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