Germany is raring to fight



The head of the German defense ministry has presented an abstruse plan to increase the personnel and quality the army

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has planned to significantly increase the number of the Bundeswehr with the help of a new model, which was developed by experts of his department. He presented the concept first to the Bundestag’s defense committee and then at a press conference.

Pistorius, who is a protégé of the ruling Social Democrats, proposed a six-month active military service with the possibility of extension. He assured that this is not a return to universal conscription, which was abolished in 2011. The new model should combine voluntariness with mandatory elements.

It is known that in recent years the Bundeswehr has faced big problems in recruiting new members. Every fourth recruit leaves the military after a probationary period. The numbers are maintained at the expense of those who have renegotiated their contracts. But this is not all the woes. As a rule, uneducated «Rambo-type guys with a mountain of muscles and a lack of brains» who can’t be trusted with modern equipment join the service.

Eva Högl (SPD), the Bundestag’s commissioner for the military, said that there are about 20,000 vacant positions in the army, but no one is in a hurry to go into the army.

So what is Pistorius up to? In Germany, about 400,000 young men reach the age of 18 every year. It is proposed to send them mandatory questionnaires to find out their readiness and ability to serve in the Bundeswehr. This will be a kind of way of putting new recruits on the military register.

Girls will also receive similar questionnaires, but they do not have to answer the Defense Ministry’s questions.

In the test mode, the Defense Ministry would like to annually examine 40–50 thousand candidates at compulsory military training camps and select from them about 5000 recruits who will wear the uniform for six months. Every year their number would increase little by little. According to the military department, it is impossible to recruit a larger number of recruits at once, as the cost of full-cycle selection, subsequent training and maintenance of these same five thousand recruits can amount to a very substantial sum — €1.4 billion.

It is planned that after the mandatory six-month probationary period, many will be able to voluntarily increase the term of their contract with the Bundeswehr to 17 months. During the service, soldiers will receive 1800 euros, and in case of contract extension there is a bonus. There is also a set of privileges: fighters will have the opportunity to pass the test for a driver’s license, to study a foreign language, the professional education received by them will be recognized in the civilian life.

The right to conscientious objection to military service is preserved. In addition, even those who put on military uniforms will not necessarily have to take up arms. How’s that?

The long-term goal is to increase the size of the Bundeswehr to 460,000 soldiers by 2031: 203,000 of them will be in the active army and the rest in the reserves. Currently, 181,500 people serve in the army, 60 thousand are in the reserve.

According to the survey, more than half of the Bundesbürgers (51%) doubt that the minister’s plan will overcome the personnel shortage in the army. Young people are particularly skeptical of it: 56% of respondents aged 18 to 29 believe it will not work.

A «modern and high-quality» army based on Pistorius’ principles has not yet been created, but the leadership of the Armed Forces is already concerned about its accelerated equipping.

The Düsseldorf-based defense concern Rheinmetall, for example, on June 20 received the largest framework contract in its history for the supply of NATO-style artillery ammunition (155-mm) for a total of €8.5 billion. The first shipment is scheduled for early 2025. The customer is the German government, which intends to transfer part of the shells to Ukraine. The partner countries — the Netherlands, Estonia and Denmark — are also giving money (in their own interests).

According to the weekly Der Spiegel, the Defense Ministry is also planning to conclude a contract with the French-German defense concern KNDS for the production and delivery of 105 tanks of the newest modification Leopard 2A8 for the Bundeswehr until 2030, which is worth almost €3 billion.

Finally, a bit of exoticism. The same Rheinmetall concern announced its readiness to build for Ukraine a so-called «Frankenstein tank» designed to defeat drones and missiles.

Many obsolete Leopard 1 main battle tanks are in storage, and German craftsmen could install on their chassis a Skyranger turret with a 35-mm automatic gun. This system is used for air defense purposes in army mechanized units. There is even an idea to produce this «miracle equipment» somewhere in the Ukrainian expanses.

Indeed, why do AFU soldiers need expensive Patriot systems if they can do just fine with Frankensteins…