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German defense minister replaces chief of the armed forces

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BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s defense minister has decided to replace the chief of the country’s armed forces, putting in his place the military’s current head of domestic operations, the government said Wednesday.

The top military commander since April 2018, Gen. Eberhard Zorn, will be replaced by Lt. Gen. Carsten Breuer, who previously was tapped in late 2021 to head an expert group to advise officials on how to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Defense Ministry didn’t specify a reason for the shake-up, which comes as Germany moves to modernize its military, the Bundeswehr, and improve its equipment. Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has brought new energy to the ministry after he took over nearly two months ago following the resignation of his much-criticized predecessor.

Zorn said during a visit to Estonia on Wednesday that his removal was “a clear political decision” and that he has “absolutely no problem with it,” German news agency dpa reported. “When there’s a new beginning, it is sometimes very helpful to start with new faces.”

The military chief of staff is responsible for the stratregic and operative planning and leadership of all the Bundeswehr’s missions and is the government’s top military adviser.

Breuer will take up his new job on Friday.

Pistorius also is replacing one of his deputy ministers — Margaretha Sudhof, who came into office along with the previous defense minister, Christine Lambrecht, in 2021 — with a longtime confidant, Nils Hilmer.

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