Person of the week: Carsten Breuer: Corona General should copy Portugal and Italy

Person of the week: Carsten Breuer
Corona General is supposed to copy Portugal and Italy

By Wolfram Weimer

In Portugal and Italy, generals are deployed as the top corona fighters and have achieved great success. Germany is now following this model. The traffic light government relies on the psychological effect that finally determination and confidence in political action comes

In Portugal it was the rear admiral of the navy, in Italy a mountaineer general. Both had the same mission: to fight the corona pandemic with the general staff with one hand. The unusual decision by the governments in Rome and Lisbon to cede the most important political leadership of the crisis to a military turned out to be a stroke of luck. Henrique Gouveia e Melo in Portugal and Francesco Figliuolo in Italy are much more successful with their missions than some health ministers elsewhere. Under the leadership of the generals as Covid warriors, both countries have advanced their vaccination campaigns in an exemplary manner, much more successfully than Germany or Austria, for example. Southern Europeans, of all people, show the Germans – contrary to all clichés – how to achieve your goal with military discipline and clear organization.

Both Portugal’s naval admiral and Italy’s mountain troops have now become folk heroes. Both have developed values ​​of sympathy and trust that civil politicians can only dream of. The high vaccination rates in both countries can also be explained by the fact that the military enjoy greater trust than politicians in crisis situations, so they can drive the vaccination campaigns forward more credibly.

“Children, go to the Navy!”

In doing so, both of them used the military style to build up psychological authority in a targeted manner. Admiral Gouveia e Melo appears before the public in green combat uniform and speaks grimly of a “war against Covid” that Portugal has to win. Figliuolo, on the other hand, shows himself in a mountain hunter’s hat with a white goose feather, and over 20 ribbons are emblazoned on his chest, ready for operetta. Gouveia e Melo is also demonstrating its collection of medals in public. Both rely on authority and speak creakily, clearly and with military pathos, as if the 19th century were here again.

Gouveia e Melo used to command frigates and submarines. In February he took over the management of the vaccination campaign from a civilian, which had progressed slowly until then. “This uniform is a symbol of the need to roll up your sleeves and fight the virus,” he says today. the The newspaper “Diário de Notícias” reportsthat the Admiral Portugal is the new “rock star”. He is cheered on the street in Lisbon by people who shout “Thank you, Vice Admiral, for everything you’ve done for us”, or to take a selfie or ask for an autograph.

He gets a standing ovation at conferences and even gives mothers advice on how to raise children “to be organized and responsible”: “You have to enroll them in naval school to embark on a military career. And they have to be normal, comfortable for the community, who have the hope of doing something, not just for themselves, but for everyone “, proclaims Gouveia e Melo and brings Portugal’s age-old national pride in the great navy to life.

Major Lindner presses the copy button

The two generals played the logistical muscles of the military and demonstratively had large vaccination centers built – some in sports arenas – with a military look. That too should create trust. And when the first complaints about the vaccination campaign arose, the admiral countered it with martial sentences like: “We won a battle, but I don’t know whether we won the war against the virus. This is a world war.”

The astonishing success of the two generals in Berlin meant that the new traffic light government now wants to copy this model. The FDP chairman Christian Lindner is himself a major in the reserve and is considered to be the initiator of the general idea. On Sunday evening Lindner announced in the ZDF program “Berlin direkt” to the astonished German public who would lead the new crisis team of the traffic light government: “At the top will be a German general.”

Breuer has already done (almost) everything

For the traffic light government, this personality should become a liberation to demonstrate agency, determination and leadership communication. The 56-year-old Major General Carsten Breuer has been coordinating the Bundeswehr operations to combat pandemics since 2020. This includes the emergency aid of several thousand soldiers in health departments, care facilities and hospitals. Under his command, the Bundeswehr helped with snow and flood disasters. He can crisis and react quickly. Now the major general is supposed to repair the tarnished image of Germany in crisis management.

Like his Italian colleague, Breuer is a specialist in logistics, like Figliuolo, Breuer also served in Afghanistan; both are family fathers of the baby boomer generation. Carsten Breuer comes from Iserlohn in the Sauerland, he joined the troupe immediately after graduating from high school in 1984 and studied pedagogy at the Bundeswehr University in Hamburg. After his general staff course in the USA, he became Chief of Staff of the 41st Panzergrenadierbrigade in Torgelow in 2002. Breuer is considered a military all-rounder and has an unusually broad career history.

He was KFOR commander in Kosovo, adjutant at NATO headquarters in Brussels, on the command staff of the Ministry of Defense, he headed an anti-tank battalion. In 2014 he served in the Afghan capital Kabul and in the meantime he was the commander of the Panzer Grenadier Brigade 37 in Frankenberg, Saxony. The then Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen discovered Breuer’s communicative side and made him responsible for the white paper. Since 2018 he has headed the Territorial Tasks Command in Berlin, which is responsible for deployments by the armed forces in Germany. Now he is supposed to give the muddled German corona policy a new profile. Breuer takes over the job exactly on his 57th birthday. He could adopt the simple and decisive slogan from his Italian colleague: “We vaccinate everyone who comes on our way!”

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