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Bundeswehr begins new era as conscription ends

Published: 04 Jul 2011 17:32 GMT+02:00

On Monday, Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière visited a Berlin barracks to mark the end of the 54-year-old tradition by greeting new volunteer recruits. Most of the 3,419 volunteer soldiers, including 44 women, have committed to 15 months of service.

“On Friday, the Bundeswehr ceased to exist as a conscript army,” de Maizière said. “I don’t have the fear that the Bundeswehr will not remain anchored in the middle of society.”

That is a key concern of many of those who have opposed the end of conscription, which more than eight million German men have participated in over the years.

There are also worries that the nation's armed forces have become disorganized and militarily ineffective in light of a recent European Defence Agency report, which called the Bundeswehr the most ineffective military in the NATO alliance.

But de Maizière and other German officials have disputed the report.

“The tenor isn’t surprising. But the conclusions of the study are wrong,” he said on Monday.

The Bundeswehr has rolled out a new advertising slogan in honour of it’s change to a professional force: "We. Serve. Germany."

De Maizière said the motto represents soldiers’ high operational readiness, spirit of sacrifice and the camaraderie of military life.

The German Armed Forces Association, which acts as an advocate for the interests of soldiers, said volunteer recruits need to be aware of the challenges that face them.

It’s important that recruits know how dangerous military life is and not just "the nice side of the soldiering profession," said Chairman Ulrich Kirsch.

The end of conscription is just one part of a package of reforms planned for the Bundeswehr. In coming years, officials hope to reduce the number of soldiers from the current 230,000 to around 185,000.

DAPD/The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

18:31 July 4, 2011 by Frenemy
"the nice side of the soldiering profession"??

hmmm, I must've missed that.
19:04 July 4, 2011 by olog-hai
So now there is a Bundeswehr that has the potential to become a professional army, with a reconstituted general staff. Also, they've been using the training manuals of the Wehrmacht and SS for many years. Foundation of new "state within a state", possibly?
22:51 July 4, 2011 by german-guardian
@ Frenemy

You must be a coward. Listen, the nice part of being a soldier is the glory of protecting your homeland, to secure the beauty and unity of your country. A country needs strong and healthy soldiers like steel who will defend their country with heart.
00:40 July 5, 2011 by Frenemy
yes, I suppose I must be a coward (I guess that would probably explain the last 15 years of service to my country)...
07:18 July 5, 2011 by harcourt
german-guardian : #3

I hope that is sarcasm - otherwise it sounds like a direct quote from a training manual of the "Wehrmacht" !
08:24 July 5, 2011 by delvek
@ Frenemy,

15 years as a soldier and you fail to identify with the "nice side" of soldier? Nothing else.
08:36 July 5, 2011 by Englishted
You are O.K. german-guardian god is on your side ,like last time and the time before. It said so on the belt buckles.
10:18 July 5, 2011 by trash head
Bundeswehr, the detention center for all losers of the civil life (Zivil versager), unemployed and stupid ones.

Yet another underclass army compareable to US army.
11:03 July 5, 2011 by Anti EU
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
11:12 July 5, 2011 by auniquecorn
You know, i support soldiers 100%, but how in the hell are you gonna change to a professional force with only a 15 month enlistment?

Oh and anti eu, your a punk,
11:20 July 5, 2011 by Anti EU
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
11:39 July 5, 2011 by trash head
> 11:03 July 5, 2011 by Anti EU

Beside the nick i kinda like the comment [#9]. The nick is just too serious yet, make it a bit more trashy or trolly.
12:18 July 5, 2011 by freechoice
why do comments get censored? aren't we living in a free country?
12:30 July 5, 2011 by auniquecorn
@freechoice

Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
12:58 July 5, 2011 by Frenemy
@delvek:

First of all, there are many words I would use to describe the life of a professional soldier (honorable, brave, patriotic, etc), but "nice" is not one of them.

Secondly, I didn't specify in what capacity I served my country, for all you know I could be a secretary/clerk at the Bundestag. And no, I'm not a soldier (at least not in the strictly military sense of the word)...
18:51 July 5, 2011 by german-guardian
@ harcourt

So you are making your accusations against me, just because I love my country. Listen, people like you are tricksters; they are against everything, like nation, religion, and unity of a country. What does loving Germany has to do anything with 70 years ago. I love Germany and I say Germany is the most blessed country in the world, with the greatest people in the world. people of peace, knowledge and creativeness. People such as yourself condemn anyone who loves Germany, and in a biased way not only spread hate agaist Germany, but you are like a sneaky fox ready to accuse anyone, just becuase they love thier nation. Yet you promote your ideas with trickery and hate. Any one who talks about peace, love and the love of their country, you hate and you accuse and relate them to World War 2. How sad and disturbed. Every Germany loves their country becuase it is their fatherland, and their great ancesters have used their heart and soul to build it brick by brick. God will bless Germany and help it succeed in a healthy and prosperous direction. God bless Germany and Germany people, and may he always protect us. Peace to everyone and love to the world.
19:22 July 5, 2011 by Major B
@Frenemy You're back sir! And considering how heated you can be, your comments were relatively "nice". A nice soldier.

On a serious note, maybe the way to say it is that "soldiers can be nice" at times, depnding on the situation. actions such as helping children, the sick, etc.

@ trash head, the brilliant intellectual whose enlightening comments are always of significant depth and relevance. Not!

Tell you what, after you next bong hit of the trash you smoke, go out and find yourself a one of those underclass American Army soldiers. Be a man/boy, walk up and call him underclass and slap one of them. Use a racial epitet too. Don't worry, you'll be fine. After your success there, find one of those army underclass officers and engage him or her in an in depth topic or your choice. Demonstrate your mastery of how to smoke dope.

@ german-guardian_ your last comments are just fine and thank you. Well said. Like rnntynntynn always says, enough of WW2. Throw the 30 years war back at folks. Blame the Italians for the Roman invasions. Better yet, let those who live in the past, die there.
19:45 July 5, 2011 by Frenemy
@Major B:

Yes I am (I've been been playing in the sandpit for the past few months, obviously without an internet connection). I really am trying to be more polite around civilized folk, but certain people make it extremely difficult to be cordial...
08:05 July 6, 2011 by harcourt
german-guardian : #16

Nationalism and religion are the two most dangerous forces in the world and have been the cause of most aggression and wars. Congratulations you seem to encapsulate both!
08:28 July 6, 2011 by delvek
@ harcourt

I dont feel individually responsible for what people / governments do in the name of religion. I have not found anywhere in the Bible where the God I have decided to place my salvation in has or will instruct me to kill in his name or for his purpose.

At the end of the day God gives us free will to decide our own salvation but it is extremely important to seperate the Faith from the perversions man injects into them. After all, this is your soul we are talking about.

@ Frenemy

After reading your reply, I see what your saying now. I guess when I read "nice" even though it seemed like a peculiar choice of wordage I thought it was just lost in translation and inserted my own impression of what word should be there.
15:02 July 6, 2011 by harcourt
delvek : #20

Surely you must have worries that other people fight,kill and do/and have done, heinous things in the name of the religion you believe in?

Your omnipotent god, gave this ability of "free will" so that all the bestiality, cruelty etc. etc. perpetrated by mankind can be explained(very handy)! Well all I can say that he must have been or is a very cruel and perverted entity to allow this to happen when he has so much power.

By the way you don't have to worry about my soul thanks very much.
15:14 July 6, 2011 by Frenemy
Beastiality?! Those sheep-shaggers need to be punished! lol
20:42 July 6, 2011 by harcourt
Thank you Frenemy for raising the tone of my contribution !!
21:59 July 6, 2011 by farmon
Very good article, german-guardian. Ethnic Germans have also served the whole western hemisphere with their great work ethics and industriousness. In the 1800's Germans were in great demand in much of Latin America.
22:11 July 6, 2011 by Frenemy
...sarcasm is an understood/familiar concept around here, right?!
16:52 July 7, 2011 by german-guardian
@ Frenemy

Sarcasm is for fools like you.
02:49 July 8, 2011 by reich1900
It seems to me that the military will become stronger when it is all volunteer because a person will do much better when they want to participate. However, I think that with todays foreign dangers the limited 185,000 force is much to small. One thing that must never be forgotten is that FREEDOM is NOT Free. Once its' lost it is almost impossible to get back and the free world is being attacked in a way that is new and brings with it new challenges. It's important that to keep in mind that rights come from God that can't be taken away but what governments give can be taken away. That is why a strong military founded in keeping a free democratic government in power is so important.
06:01 July 8, 2011 by harcourt
reich 1900:

Could you list some of the rights your God gives you. If he exists that is !!
07:30 July 8, 2011 by german-guardian
@ harcourt

The rights God has countries is to build themselves up and to protect themselves. Germany will be at peace with everyone, but it will also be stronger than everyone, both military and industrially and creativeness. May God bless Germany, may God bless German people, may God bring peace, love and joy to the world and lead us in his direction. Peace, love, strength...
09:49 July 8, 2011 by harcourt
german-guardian:

You sound like a seriously disturbed person !!!
18:35 July 8, 2011 by glenhope
Good for Germany and about time. It's probably the last legacy of the old militarist Germany, which everyone wants to forget - Gunner Asch is beaming. I have several friends who served as conscripts and Ersatzdienst. They went unwillingly, were treated as unwilling and were glad to leave. The Bundeswehr is purely for defence, as it should be. Germany doesn't need to get involved in foreign adventures, except as peacekeepers. I believe that 185,000 is still a huge number in modern day terms and it will be reduced further in the future. The modern volunteer soldier is not the cannon fodder of the past. He must be highly skilled and able to use the modern technology of warfare. Units are teams working together willingly. Officers have to be exceptional to lead. The military should also be useful in helping with civilian disasters - floods, fire, earthquake.
21:50 July 8, 2011 by reich1900
Yes, harcourt I can. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (people) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the prusuit of happyness. Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
08:52 July 9, 2011 by harcourt
reich1900:

I can accept that you may be a patriotic American citizen but that doesn't prove the existence of your god. In any case why should this debatable god give you ANY rights except the ones you personally decide to have in his/her name !!
22:49 July 9, 2011 by Ich
Looks like white wash to get out of military involvement in anything, which, given the NATO fiasco in Libya, may be a good thing.

If you're going to do it, do it, or just forget it. Germany was wise to stay out of this "flying circus".

However, I'd say that society has defintiely gone down hill since conscription ended, as a general thing.

A few years of military life is a great thing and you can definitely get on better with veterans than these ever more unbiquitous "terminal civlian" types who will, somehow, just never get it.

They aren't making the world into a very nice place.
00:34 July 11, 2011 by Timec
@Ich

It is true that military service really is a great thing for some young men and women. It shapes them into young people of integrity and purpose, whether or not they choose to pursue a career in the military. Of course, I've also seen other young people experience the same "flourishing" in a university environment or after starting a career that uses their talents.

On the same note, military service can also be detrimental to some individuals - it is not that there's anything wrong with those young people, but rather their personalities simply clash strongly against the personality of military "types." I've seen good young men go into the service, voluntarily or otherwise, and come out in much worse moral and intellectual shape than they entered.

All that aside, forcing people into a role based on perceived "behavioral benefits" is a terribly bad idea. Lots of things are good - but they cease being good when you force people to do them.
01:51 July 11, 2011 by Naruse
Conscription was an unfortunate and unnecessary relic of a previous era.

The gender inequality matter only made it worse, and even less justifiable. Yes, there is something wrong in this day and age with legally requiring men to do six or more months of government service, and not requiring the same from women. No, men and women aren't the same, but they are both certainly capable of non-combative military service or, more popularly, working in hospitals and care centers. Cries about "duty to ones nation" and so forth ring hollow when apparently only 50% of the population has those obligations. That such a grossly unjust and unequal practice lasted for so long, mostly unaddressed by the same government officials proudly preaching about their "egalitarian culture" and so forth, only speaks to the power of "tradition" to justify unjustifiable laws.

Hopefully the few remaining European countries still conscripting young men into involuntary servitude, merely because of their gender - that's you Norway, Finland, Austria, and a tiny handful of others - will follow suit.

This is a very good day for Germany.
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