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German Fighter Squadron Organization


Collider

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Hello fellow aviators!

I come from JTF-13, a DCS Sim group. I've now been looking for a while for the answer to a question that's been taunting me. Navy squadrons, IRL, have a Command Officer (CO), an Executive Officer (XO) and an Operations Officer (OPSO). The USAF has it's equivalent (Sq/CC, DO and ADO respectively). I'd like to know if the German Air Force has something similar, for example for the TackLwG 73. I've asked a german guy that's with us and he told me u guys are very knowledgeable and might have the answer I seek. 

Thank you for your time, I greatly appreciate it!

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Hi @Collider, welcome!

Most of my experiences have been researching the squadrons of the Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte (WW1), the WW2-era Luftwaffe, and the Luftstreitkräfte der Nationalen Volksarmee (East German Air Force).  So, I'm not completely familiar with the modern Bundeswehr.

However, it is my understanding that the modern Luftwaffe is very much based on USAF standards.  Luftwaffe wings, for example, have received extensive training in the United States since 1958.  Whereas, the East German LSK was brought up to VVS standards, with some WW2 Luftwaffe traditions retained.

Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwaders, like TaktLwG 73, are led by a Kommodore who usually holds the rank of an Oberst (Colonel).  This is basically the same as a USAF Wing Commander.

TaktLwG 73: https://www.bundeswehr.de/de/organisation/luftwaffe/organisation-/luftwaffentruppenkommando/taktisches-luftwaffengeschwader-73-steinhoff

Under the Kommodore, there would be an Adjutant (Executive Officer - XO).  Probably an Oberstleutant (Lieutenant colonel) or Major.

There would then be Sachgebiete (subject areas), each with their own commanders, probably in the Hauptleute (captains - OF-2) range.  These subject areas are usually:

  • S1 - Personalwesen (human resources)
  • S2 - Militärische Sicherheit und militärisches Nachrichtenwesen (military security and military intelligence)
  • S3 - Einsatz, Organisation und Ausbildung (deployment, organization and training)
  • S4 - Logistik (logistics)
  • S6 - IT und Kommunikation (IT and communications)

The flying group is then usually divided into three or four Staffeln (squadrons).  TaktLwG 51, for example, has 1. Staffel (Tornados), 2. Staffel (UAVs) and 4. Staffel (Tornados).  Each of these Staffeln would be led by a Kommandeur of probably a Hauptleute (captains - OF-2) rank.

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taktisches_Luftwaffengeschwader_51_„Immelmann“

Not sure if that helps.

And of course, not being an expert, I could be wrong on a few details.

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Hi @Klaiber!!

Thanks for your reply, and it ABSOLUTLY helps. Thanks for taking your time and answering, that was just the answer I was looking for.

If I understood correctly, then the Kommodore would be a CO and the Adjuntant the XO. Would there be a specific equivalent for the OPSO, or would it be S-3?

Also, differing from the topic, what's the difference between Luftwaffe and Bundeswehr?

Thanks for your reply!

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2 hours ago, Collider said:

Also, differing from the topic, what's the difference between Luftwaffe and Bundeswehr?

The Bundeswehr is the German Armed Forces in total.  First of just West Germany.  Then of unified Germany.  It includes the German Army (Heer), the German Navy (Deutsche Marine) and the German Air Force (Luftwaffe).

During the German Empire and Weimar Republic eras, the total Armed Forces of Germany was called the Reichswehr.  And during the Nazi Germany period, it was called the Wehrmacht.

2 hours ago, Collider said:

If I understood correctly, then the Kommodore would be a CO and the Adjuntant the XO. Would there be a specific equivalent for the OPSO, or would it be S-3?

Let me do some more research for you.  I'll see what I can find.

2 hours ago, Collider said:

Thanks for your reply, and it ABSOLUTLY helps. Thanks for taking your time and answering, that was just the answer I was looking for.

Of course!  Glad to help.

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5 hours ago, Collider said:

If I understood correctly, then the Kommodore would be a CO and the Adjuntant the XO. Would there be a specific equivalent for the OPSO, or would it be S-3?

After looking around, yes.  I think this is correct.  Maybe @Balge can offer some help.

Since you specifically mentioned Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 73 "Steinhoff", this is I believe their structure (post 2013 realignment):

Stab TaktLwG 73 (HQ)

  • Kommodore (CO)
  • Adjutant Kommodore (XO)
    • S1 Offizier - Personalwesen (human resources)
    • S2 Offizier - Militärische Sicherheit und militärisches Nachrichtenwesen (military security and military intelligence)
    • S3 Offizier - Einsatz, Organisation und Ausbildung (deployment, organization and training)
    • S4 Offizier - Logistik (logistics)
    • S6 Offizier - IT und Kommunikation (IT and communications)

FlgGrp TaktLwG 73 (Fliegende Gruppe - Flying Group)

  • Kommandeur
  • Stellvertretender Kommandeur (Deputy Commander) 

TGrp TaktLwG 73 (Technische Gruppe - Technical Group)

  • Kommandeur
  • Stellvertretender Kommandeur (Deputy Commander) 
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Hi there. I'm glad to pitch in a bit.
For clarification: I only served in the Army (Heer) and had very limited contact to guys from the Luftwaffe (air force). And then mostly to maintainers and mechanics.
So there might be subtle differences there. Plus in the simming world I'm much more familar with the structure of the US-Airforce.

Concerning the Adjutant:

You guys are more or less right. As far as I understand it there is however a subtle difference between the american XO and the german Adjutand. An Adjutand in the german army is much more of a personal assistand to a commanding officer. They might do the same jobs and more or less have the same function than the XO however the conception of the position of adjutand is different.
I guess that has a lot to to with traditions and the prussian army where an Adjutant was more or less a personal secretary to a commanding officer.

If you try to follow the historical development of the role starting as a personal Secretary/Manservant, becoming more intepentend and beeing granted additional "powers of command" you would more or less arrive at what it is today while beeing still aware of the roots and the sublte difference. 

I hope my really convoluted explanation made some kind of sense. I consider myself quite capable communicating in english but most of my "military vocabulary" which is not sim related is in german and some terms are really hard to translate because the equivalent translation superficially means the same but there are some connotations which just don't translate.

As to the structure of the German airforce:

You have Geschwader which is subdivided in Gruppen which is subdivided in Staffeln or Kompanien. In the Luftwaffe ists called a Staffel if it operates in the air and a Kompanie if it operates on the ground. A Geschwader is the hierarchical equivalent of a Regiment, the Gruppe of a Batallion and the Staffel of a Kompanie.

As you can read in Klaibers example the Bundeswehr has the colloqually termed "Aküfi" or Abkürzungsfimmel. A term with which soldiers make fun of the tendency of the Bundeswehr to use acronyms whereever possible.
FlgGrp TaktLwG 73 for example translated to:  Fliegende Gruppe, Taktisches Luftwaffen Geschwader 73. (Flying group, Tactical Airforce Geschwader 73)

About the OPSO part: What is the specific job of the OPSO? I couldn't find a usefull and complete "job description".

What you have to remeber is, that the structure of the Luftwaffe is, in parts, quite different to the US equivalent. They train together and can operate together but the internal organisation is still pretty different even though it has a lot of similarities. Thats not surprising if you a) think of the historical lineage of each airforce and b) consider that the mission, and the capabilities are quite different.


Edit: I wated to add someting:
The german Army sometimes reorganizes units somewhat or uses other organisation scemes if those units are supposed to work together with different Nationalities. The Stab(HQ) of a unit which a combination of different NATO nationalities (So a Joint Bundeswehr and NATO Stab(HQ)) isstructued in Joint Staff Functions in accordance with Nato.
Other examples are the "Deutsch Französische Brigarde" (German- French Brigade) or the Eurokorps.

An interesting tidbid in that regard is, that the Luftwaffe regularily combines parts of different Geschader to form temporary so called Einsatzgeschwader. Those Geschwader are for use in specific conflicts and exist only for a limited time.
For Example the Einsatzgeschwader 1 (Air Force Operational Wing 1) existed from 1995-2001 and was formed parts of JaboG 32 (Jagdbombergeschwader 32 or Strikefighterwing 32) and TaktLwG 51„I“ (Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 51 "Immelmann" or Tactical Airforce Wing 51). JaboG 32 is a strike Fighter Wing and TaktLwG51 is a reconnaissance wing.

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Thanks so much @Balge!  This is great information!

Some of the Buneswehr terms and acronyms are very familiar to me.  But others are very strange.  TaktLwG for example.

I think it's that I'm too used to WW1/2 and East Germany.

6 hours ago, Balge said:

About the OPSO part: What is the specific job of the OPSO? I couldn't find a usefull and complete "job description".

An OPSO is an Operations Officer.  Basically, an air planning specialist who helps coordinate the wing in its joint operations.

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