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Military faces looming soldier shortage
photo: DPA

Military faces looming soldier shortage

Published: 01 Mar 2011 07:37 GMT+01:00
Updated: 01 Mar 2011 14:20 GMT+01:00

The German military could find itself short thousands of soldiers once conscription ends because few volunteers appear to be interested in signing up.

According to statistics from the Defence Ministry, which the daily Financial Times Deutschland reported on Tuesday, the number of interested volunteers is well below the numbers needed by the armed forces, the Bundeswehr, after Germany abolishes the draft.

According to military documents from early February, the number of volunteers interested in enlisting in April is currently just 10 percent of the target, the newspaper reported.

The statistics have raised fears in the Bundeswehr that the end of conscription could endanger the readiness of German forces.

The Bundeswehr hopes to enlist up to 15,000 volunteers a year in a new all-professional military. They would serve between 12 and 23 months. The plan is to reduce the armed forces from its current size of 240,000 soldiers to around 170,000.

But the resignation of Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg of Tuesday could cloud what would be the biggest reform effort in the Bundeswehr's history.

A spokesman for the Defence Ministry admitted to the Financial Times Deutschland that it was "not yet satisfied" with the interest level, but warned against jumping to conclusions. The ministry plans to start an enlistment campaign this month to get the numbers up.

DAPD/The Local/kdj

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:16 March 1, 2011 by moistvelvet
With only 10% interested in volunteering isn't it a bit hypocritical of Germany to comment on the democracy in other countries when they themselves obviously force young men into uniform and armed service who given the real choice would not volunteer.

The Bundeswehr is bloated with useless conscripts that at the end of the day would rather be at home than on the front line, get rid of them and make it a proffesional armed force with better incentives for the right people.
10:26 March 1, 2011 by pepsionice
There are three problems here. First, I'm not sure that incentives exist in today's environment to entice a sufficient number of German youths (men mostly) to join. Education is free. Pay structure after getting your apprenticeship done is already outstanding as a civilian...so you can't really compete. Early retirement? The German public won't dare accept that.

Second problem is simply the career path of most German kids by age sixteen. Most have plans and don't really want to change them to include the military.

Finally, you come to this issue of political slant. Even by early teens....a fair number of German youth are anti-military and find it a bit crazy to even consider the military as an option.
10:33 March 1, 2011 by storymann
An all professional military is difficult to achieve when times are good.The pay needs to exceed the average pay for non military personnel ,if you are to attract people in a good social system like Germany's.

In the USA there are areas of high unemployment that offer good opportunities for recruiters.

Germany will find many of it's recruits from areas in the former GDR that have higher than normal unemployment.It is doubtful however that the goal of 170,000 will be achieved with good volunteers unless the pay is very attractive.
10:47 March 1, 2011 by auniquecorn
His plan is to reduce the Bundeswehr from its current size of 240,000 soldiers to around 170,000.

I think he can do this within the first year. at this rate, easily
11:52 March 1, 2011 by michael4096
There is really only one problem: what does a military career offer a youngster?

- it used to be cool, not many brownie points anymore

- it used to lead to good civilian careers afterwards, leadership & responsibility, technical achievements.. - the good bits are outsourced to civilians anyway now

- it used to be something to be proud of, defending the country! Now you are fighting to instal puppet regimes in someone else's empire

The military in Germany is just at the hard end of this problem, most countries are going the same way. Unless the modern world finds a new use for armies that offers young people what they need - we won't have any armies soon
16:47 March 1, 2011 by strahlungsamt
I'll tell you what Germany's problem is. They're CHEAP!!!

I'll bet you anything a soldier (who gets sent to some Durka-Durkastan to get his head or legs blown off) does it on a 400 euro basis.

Then he's fighting to defend American Oil interests or something like that.

The only ones I can see joining up are the NPD/Nazis. Once that happens, there will be a major incident down the line somewhere that will make the Gorch Fock look like tabloid gossip.
17:58 March 1, 2011 by michael4096
yer - wot ee sed

Now tell me again why the bright young things needed to lead armies should join up?
18:01 March 1, 2011 by johnny108
I"ll sign up, once I get out of the US army- German soldiers only go to the desert for 4 to 6 months.

I've never done less than 12!!
18:56 March 1, 2011 by Major B
Oh just great. A nation of 80,000,000 can't raise 15,000 volunteers a year. I strongly feel Guttenberg was wronged but his reformation plan supposedly had all this worked out and projected.

And American has an aircraft carrier off the coast of Libya, when America doesn't even get oil from there -- Libyan oil goes to Europe.

Can't wait till it wakes up and leaves the Europeans to their own defense!!!!
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