From Deutsche Welle: Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is setting yet another record. At 37, he is the youngest defense minister ever to be in charge of Germany’s more than 250,000 armed forces and a budget of more than 30 billion euros ($44 billion)…

The written agreement that provides the basis for the new center-right government underscores this reorientation of Germany’s defense policy and will be appreciated in Eastern Europe, adds [Marcin] Zaborowski [from the the EU’s Institute for Security Studies]: “What the coalition document is saying is that NATO is the most important security alliance for Germany. It says that very explicitly and that is quite new. That suggests that there is considerable change here, and I would imagine, also looking at the personalities of the government that it will be more atlanticist, more committed to strengthening NATO than to the development of the EU defense structure.”

Despite the advance praise for Guttenberg, Germany’s allies have high expectations for the new defense minister. Not surprisingly Germany’s role in Afghanistan must be his most urgent priority, say the experts. With a mission that’s seen by many analysts to be at a crucial juncture, the pressure on Germany to do more is bound to increase.

“I think there is certainly an expectation among many allies that Germany participate fully without the caveats that are associated,” says [the director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations, Daniel] Hamilton. “The simple fact is that Afghanistan represents the most acute security threat to the German public today and Germany is participating, but only in certain ways.” (photo: AP)