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Last Bundeswehr conscripts report for duty
Photo: DPA

Last Bundeswehr conscripts report for duty

Published: 03 Jan 2011 12:25 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Jan 2011 12:25 GMT+01:00

As of March 1, the Bundeswehr will accept only volunteers into its ranks and military service will be phased out entirely by July 1. Conscription will remain allowed by the German constitution, however.

The 12,000 men showing up for their six-month stint on Monday will be the last to take part in Germany’s once-obligatory military service, which was first instituted in West Germany in 1957. The decision to end the Wehrdienst, as conscription is known in Germany, is part of a wider reform of the country’s armed forces.

Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has agreed to reduce the Bundeswehr from its current size of 240,000 soldiers to an all-professional force of around 170,000. The ministry expects 7,000 to 15,000 volunteers each year, compared with the military’s present 28,500 conscripts.

Hellmut Königshaus, parliament’s liaison to the military, on Monday expressed understanding for the nation’s last batch of grudging conscripts forced to report against their will.

“I can’t sympathize with those seeing this draft as unjust, because military service will affect only a very small group of young men this year,” he told regional daily Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung.

Accordingly, he called on military officials to show flexibility and consideration for those men that would be exposed to particular hardship because of their service.

“For example, if someone has to put off their university studies for an entire year because of military service, the Bundeswehr should attempt to avoid this," he said. "The army should be generous in this regard, as it has been in the past.”

Königshaus also warned the German armed forces must become a more attractive employer in order to draw talent in a post-conscription world. “More has to be done in order to compete for skilled specialists,” he said.

Showing how the military needed to become more accommodating, he pointed out that a disproportionately high number of German soldiers commuted each weekend to where their families lived.

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Your comments about this article

00:58 January 4, 2011 by fryintl
OK, I applaud the German GOvernment for doing what the US did several years ago. BUT:

1. Germany has a problem with a budget, high unemployment, and it still is a hop skip and a NUKE from the russians. How do you plan on defending the most sought after land in an attack with only 170,000 troops? I can see a quick decision to go nuclear much sooner.

2. OK, you could at least teach some kids each year, 28,000 or so some discipline they will not get in the schools or life in German Civilian areas, so what do you do with those kids now? There are another 28,000 mouths to feed on welfare who will not have any training at all.

3. COnscription was a way to give someone a chance to do soemthing for their country, to serve before they go on and become wards of the state that has no jobs for them. They served a dual purpose. They filled lower positions that required less training so the Defense department could spend more money training people for the professions that required intense studies, without having to have a soldier do guard duty and then go to class. You watch, what will happen is that some of the positions held by low paid conscripts will now have to be filled by higher earning Beamters acting as guards and the costs to the Military will go up for soemthing that cost them less.

I hope that someone will find a way to have all kids do some service for their country. This was something I admired about Germany. Some of you will read this and tell me to get with the times, there is no Russian Enemy. Well my friends, look at Georgia who felt the same. Putin is building his power base and may make another run at running the Kremlin. I respect him as a driven man with a purpose, but I fear him too for what he was and still may be....
04:23 January 4, 2011 by DOZ
A big mistake. The final nail in Germany's coffin. The U.S.A.R. has finally broken Germany and sent it into obscurity. Germany will be just like Canada, and unable to defend itself, requiring it to sell it's soul for American Protection. Hang your Flags at half mast for the world to see.
07:57 January 4, 2011 by tallady
Conscripts that do a mere 6 months are a long way from a well trained effective fighting force..

Germany does not face any threat from Armed conflict with it's neighbors ,it is part of Nato and only needs to maintain a force to meet its requirements,The only threat are Jihadist ,not the Russians,,
01:19 January 6, 2011 by fryintl
DOZ, Germany, unlike Canada, will always (for the time being-LOL) have AMerican support. We are two very connected countries with a great deal of history together. Sure, we each killed tons of each other's soldiers in some minor engagements (being sarcastic) but the fact is, post 1945, the reconstruction act and the amount of years we spent rebuilding Germany was not for nothing. So Germany will not be in danger of being attacked and have no allies to come to her defense. But, like any proud country, Germany needs to be able to hold their ow. I remember that in the cold war days (they are a comin back) the bridges were built to be blown up, and we expected that teh Red Army would over run all or most of Germany in about 48 hours and we would have to take it back by force as the US started to mobilize. Germany has to take responsibility for their own survival. She depends on the French, with Joint brigades, yet the french seem to lose any war they enter (Viet Nam, any wars in the 1700's, trying to keep Mexico) Berlin has alligned itself with the most expedient and cost effective defense, but will learn that the French are unable to wage any real war and win it.

tallady (Ar eyou tall?) Germany always faces a threat. They have the natural resources, they have industry and high tech, they have waterways to move things, they have infrastructure. Russia was willing to cuase a hell of a problem when the US wanted to put Defensive missles in Germany and Poland. Tell me there is no threat? If the missiles are defensive, and used to shoot down offensive missiles coming at Germany and Europe, then really, no enemies or threat? And tell you what, when the Jihadists rise up or, the mnuslims there decide to go on a warpath, do you think the Polizei will be able to handle widespread chaos? The military would hav eto be used.

Last thoughts: The conscripts are not well trained. BUt they can sit for 24 hours at a time with a gun and guard people who are well trained. You do not want to spend 100,000 EUROs training someone only to hva them stand guard with a gun at a gate.
12:35 January 6, 2011 by tallady
Tall enough,,My understanding of the missiles were that they were a deterrent and shield from middle east countries with long range strike capabilities,ie Iran..Russia was asked to join this effort.There is always a treat, and I am under the understanding that Germany and the other Nato members are an alliance each agreed to protect and defend the other from aggression.I see no country that is in a superior position to this alliance that is capable of mounting or wanting to mount any military aggression against a member.

Germany has sufficient force to handle internal problems and if a catastrophe should occur then there are other states that would help,but doubt that situation ever occurs..

Jihadist,, have risen up ,,and we are all dealing with it ,,as unfortunate as it is,,

Maybe we should look at the root of this problem more closely ,but thanks to that cowboy George Bush and is axis of evil mentality we are bogged down in two wars with no military solution.

I doubt that the days of Gen,Patton and big armies on the field will be a scenario

in the future.,

You seem to have a flair for this Military stuff,as i have read your comments,interesting ,never the less,,even if i do not agree with you.. I must confess my ignorance on the subject,I hope this gives you some insight to my opinion.
20:28 January 6, 2011 by fryintl
tallady: In a world where everyone has Nukes, or will have, there is no option but Land forces. And since delivery of the nukes is still a problem for most of the world, you will still see land wars. On a scale such as WWII, and the battle of the bulge? Iraq had a huge tank war (very one sided, but just because they had good weapons but no practice or skills to use them adequately).

You spend 20 years doing something you learn something about it. BUt let me say, that there is a military option that would end the war. It was used on Stuttgart, it ws used on Hamburg, it was used on Stalingrad, itwas used (unsuccessfully) on Brittain. You must use overwhelming and brutal force to break the will of the populace. You must make them not want to support those that are causing the bombing, make them know that resistance is futile. You must destroy thier ability to respond. ANd then, when the violence stops, as in WWII, you can come in, and work with people to reconstruct the country. Give the roads, hospitals, jobs building their country.

When Germany rebuilt, there was a common purpose. The politics became second place to rebuilding. Peace worked adn there was no resurgence in Naziism because the germans were tired of war, tired of losing their kids. When they rebuilt, they had a new lease on life, and peace.

The palistinians, the taliban, and others, no one is killing masses, so none of their captive subjects have a major reason to want it all to stop. And, they have nothing to want to protect and keep from being destroyed.

Give them houses, schools, roads, a future, soemthing to want to keep and protect and they will not move towards extremism.

I can say more, but I am not sure if anyone cares.
10:33 January 7, 2011 by tallady
fryintl..,thanks for that,,I hope that a more reasonable solution can be found..war is a nasty business.
23:38 January 8, 2011 by Ich
Big Mistake. Military service is an obligation of citizenship. This "all volunteer" idea doesn't make so much for a professional military as it does a professional military beurocracy/lobby that creates a lot of problems. It has to compete for recruits in a field where absolute numbers are important, so it becomes too expensive. It never has enough people, so it relies on high tech, which is too expensive. It's too small to handle any more than one threat at a time, hence, no one wants to deploy it, except in numbers too small to achieve anything in a field where absolute numbers are important, and we get wars we never really fight and never really quit fighting. With the old reserve system, everybody did thier time, and then, there was a large pool that didn't have to be paid or maintained, but were available. Truth is, the military art isn't that difficult-demanding, yes-but not difficult. The only pros you really need are the general staff. The biggest fear, howver, is this all volunteer thing turning into something that is not really national, but something separate, and therefore, loyal to what? All volunteer is closer to mercenary than a truly national, conscript army. Something else to think about. If an issue is worth spilling blood, then let's everybody go do it and get it over. It's too easy, however, to send the volunterr pros since the nation won't really mind all that much. Better, I say, if politicians have to sell their wars to the whole nation in terms of blood and money before they get into them.
19:58 January 11, 2011 by storymann
Ich,,thats all bullsh--t ,where are you from K-Pax
21:49 January 11, 2011 by fryintl
Ich, du bist vericht. there are soem truths to what you say, but all in all, most people dont have the guts to realize that war is a part of human activity and it is what has kept populations down, man controlled and kept from thinking about other things that would benefit him, and the rich kept getting richer.

After looking at a guy through a night scope, that was actually looking abck at me with another scope in Bosnia, I realized one thing, I wish it didn't have to be that way. But, as long as you and I and most people have no real say in our lives and what we will be doing, we are prisoners of the powerful idiots that wave their hands and make us march to the beat of their music.

1. I agree that public mandatory service would be best- but too many liberals feel gooders stop that.

2. SMall professional is expensive, but the reverse, tons of people in uniform is also expensive and the populacve are voting against what we really need- a big mix.

3. People would rather give up their freedoms and risk death (look at Mexico where so many are controlled by a few with some guns) than fight for what they want and Freedom.

4. It appears that the Muslims and the Chinese and Russians are about the only ones left with fight in them. THey are willing to shun world opinion and take what they want. Hell, the russians go out and use Nuclear material to kiil on reporter and dont even care if hundreds others are affected by the exposure..bravado (not right, but you have to admit they got fight in them).

5. The saying why can't we just get along? Because we dont really want to adn why should we have to. Why not go outside and take a couple of snow shovels and bash in the head of your neighbor just becasue you don't like him?

I am all over the place with this rant, but I know that I prefer the old 60's to the 90's over where we have "PROGRESSED" to in 2011
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