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Defence minister tells soldiers 'stop whining'

Published: 25 Feb 2013 07:32 GMT+01:00

In an interview with Sunday's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, de Maizière said the German public had become more supportive of soldiers in the Bundeswehr.

But he added that many soldiers did not see this, and were desperate for approval. "They have the understandable, but often exaggerated desire for appreciation. They have perhaps become practically addicted to it," said de Maizière.

"Simply stop craving recognition," he said. "One does not get the appreciation of others by asking for it, but by working well."

The action was predictably unhappy, with Ulrich Kirsch, head of the Bundeswehr Association said the minister's choice of words were "disappointing and absolutely inappropriate.

"German soldiers do not crave for anything - neither recognition nor anything else."

If soldiers had a greater need for respect and recognition, it was because for a long time they had received too little of these things, he said.

Defence spokesman for the opposition Social Democrats Rainer Arnold, said that apart from the unfortunate choice of words, he could understand de Maizière's comments.

"One must sometimes explain to soldiers that it is no disrespect of the army when people regard military operations sceptically," he told Monday's Süddeutsche Zeitung.

De Maizière was in Turkey at the weekend visiting the 300 German troops stationed there with Patriot rockets units as part of a NATO operation to support Turkish defences near the Syrian border.

DPA/The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

09:26 February 25, 2013 by twisted
Soldiers today ain't what they used to be. Nobody gave a damn about what I thought in 1968....just do your job and shut up.
10:09 February 25, 2013 by Sastry.M
Institutions of military now a days are made as politicized corporates and soldiers are deployed for similar gains rather than defending honor of the nation they represent.
11:43 February 25, 2013 by Kennneth Ingle
Perhaps Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière who offended German soldiers by suggesting they should concentrate on their work, should do the same himself!

Following World War Two, it was agreed by all concerned, that Germany should never be allowed again, to send armed forces into other countries to fight wars. The German army was founded on the basis of defence, not aggression.

Since Maizière has taken over, the Bundeswehr has done just the opposite. Troops are being sent into quite unnecessary conflicts, without any good reason whatsoever, but at the same time they would be completely unable to defend their own nation from most modern forms of attack.

Such a defence Minister is not only a danger to his own country, but to the NATO alliance as a whole, which is already suffering from incapable leadership and sense of direction.
14:49 February 25, 2013 by Berlin fuer alles
They will be getting sent to Afghanistan on an internship or mini job soon.
17:35 February 25, 2013 by bwjijsdtd
Well Mr. Defence Minister, whether you know it or not, it is a solders right to bitch and complain and has been going on a hell of a long time ...
17:42 February 25, 2013 by auslanderus
From what I have seen of the German Bundeswehr, they could not fight there way out of a wet paper bag. There poorly trained, poorly equiped and in what army except German can you leave after spening a year in it? Be real, you want an Army, then train it like it is suppose to be an not like a bunch of babies and whime when there in the cold or when they have to have there hair cut. The Army is suppose to make men out of boys.
17:54 February 25, 2013 by johnny108
I spent a year in afghanistan- in the US army- saw lots of German soldiers on the base- complaining about their 6 month long deployments, and drinking beer. Never once saw them in contact with the enemy....
13:23 February 26, 2013 by DonBacardiPR
Why are they complaining?? Well stated Mr. Minister. You should deploy them a little bit more & have them contribute to world security instead of them spending so much time driving their Fahrschule (driving school) truck around town. Just seems like that's all they ever do.
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