Africa Mission: Bundeswehr could not fly out Ebola patients

By Matthias Gebauer

Berlin – Before the start of the Armed Forces Assistance Mission for Ebola region must Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen ( CDU ) take back the central promise of their soldiers and volunteers. Your Secretary of State Mark Gruebel admits that the Bundeswehr is not able to fly out infected soldiers or workers in the disaster areas in an emergency.


In the three-page report for the Bundestag brooding writes, the Bundeswehr did not have “its own air transport means by which the Ebola patients could be transported”. Instead infection cases were initially treated according to the rescue plan “stay and play”. So should “be in case of infection ensured the medical service treatment in focus locally”.

Where and by whom these emergency care is organized, remains in the letter, which SPIEGEL ONLINE, open.

In the Defense Ministry, the paper has already caused a stir, because it is contrary to the promise of the Minister. In its order of the day of 22 September, it was still called: “In an emergency, you can rest assured that you brought back to Germany and you are treated medically in Germany.” The command campaigned von der Leyen then explicitly to volunteers for the dangerous mission .

Once again overshot

The equipment state of the Bundeswehr but made von der Leyen a spanner in the works. Although the Air Force has a medical Airbus. The “Medevac” -Jet is, however, not equipped with an isolation cell, so is not suitable for cases of the disease. Appropriate special jets are rare, yet the Americans and Spaniards used for emergencies the world’s only model of a U.S. company.

While developing experts commissioned by the German Federal Foreign Office (AA) ideas for an isolation cell, which can be installed into a civilian jet. But even optimists do not expect the fact that the prototype is ready to work.

The Ministry is already rumbling. The minister was with her zest for action and the external representation once again overshot, they say. To outsiders, the rescue conceded warranty may seem like a detail. In an organization like the Bundeswehr, however, such commitments are taken very seriously, especially in dangerous missions abroad empty promises come to bad.

Nevertheless, the Bundeswehr will start according to the letter on Wednesday with the transport of a field hospital to Liberia. It is not yet clear who will operate the mobile clinic. German Army Medic not travel to Africa. From der Leyen Secretary writes only, “the question of the operator and the operation” would be examined.

“Slowly, which is also visible outside”

Of the opposition, it is criticism. “Once again it appears that the Minister wanted to distinguish themselves medial primarily with the relief effort and then can not keep their promise,” said the green defense expert Agniezska Brugger. Von der Leyen she advised, “less show and more substance” deliver. Already, giving the impression that “more to herself turns her politics than the safety of the volunteers.”


Von der Leyen has eventful week behind. Peeling due to constant breakdowns messages and bad poll numbers, they announced without consultation within the government , two new foreign missions to. It was about a possible deployment of reconnaissance drones in the Ukraine and the participation of the Bundeswehr in training camps for the Kurds in northern Iraq.

At the Foreign Office had of the Leyen with these headlines no friends. Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier they stopped short cope diplomatically little and spoke of plans that are not yet ripe. His colleague Minister Steinmeier Although not mentioned by name. Between the lines, but a clear call was to realize that to stop in the Boss von der Leyen with their PR barrage.

Whether the Minister with their current price a favor, cast doubt on her house. “Whenever the Minister comes under pressure,” said an experienced officer, “she announces a new foreign mission, slowly is also visible outside.” In Bendler- block is known, the principle still very good, by the Leyen pre-predecessor Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg mastered it almost perfect until his case.

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