Bundeswehr wants to work more closely with start-ups

The Chief of Staff of the German Army, Alfons Mais, needs to digitize the Bundeswehr. Civilian start-ups are also supposed to help.

Alfons Mais, the inspector of the army and general of the Bundeswehr, is promoting cooperation with start-ups so as not to be left behind in technological developments. "I am convinced that we now have to cooperate with start-ups even on classic military problems. Today, even in the military, nothing works without digitalization," Mais told the Handelsblatt.

Mais was recently at a drone show where it was demonstrated how start-ups would deal with military conflicts. Mais is not relying purely on start-ups that specialise in military technology. Civilian young tech companies are also interesting for the Bundeswehr, he said. "The time when military research drove civilian research is long gone. It looks more like in the last two and a half, three decades that the military is harnessing civilian technologies," Mais told Handelsblatt.

As the Army's inspector, Mais is responsible for determining the needs of the troops. To do this, he also has to develop scenarios of what conflicts and wars might look like in ten to 15 years and what the Bundeswehr's needs will be then. That is the period for innovation. Mais calls this "no longer acceptable". The army inspector describes Germany as "too risk-averse". That's why there are fewer innovations in Germany, he says. "Start-ups already enter the market with a different risk awareness, which we must use, support and also accept on our side, if resources do not lead to the goal in the process." New developments are needed especially in robotics, linked to AI, he said. "I keep asking parliamentarians: do you want to imagine young people of Europe having to fight Chinese robots, for example? I don't want to imagine that," Mais told Handelsblatt.

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