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Guttenberg kick-starts shorter conscription periods

DPA/The Local · 17 Mar 2010, 11:55

Published: 17 Mar 2010 11:55 GMT+01:00

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The centre-right government coalition had agreed to reduce the conscription period from nine to six months in early 2011, but broadcaster ARD reported that Guttenberg would bring the move forward to October 1.

The defence minister also plans to increase the number of new recruits each year from 40,000 to 50,000.

But outgoing parliamentary commissioner for the Bundeswehr, Reinhold Robbe, slammed Guttenberg’s plan in an interview with daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.

“Among the troops the reduction is seen with overwhelming scepticism, because there they can’t yet see what direction this is going,” he told the paper, adding that the military had to guarantee that recruits still understand the meaning of their service.

Meanwhile Robbe said there was a growing demographic problem when it came to recruitment.

“The quality of the applicants is going down,” he said.

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The alternative to Bundeswehr service, compulsory community service, or Zivildienst, would also be shortened but the government is considering allowing voluntary extensions, as many community groups believe six months would not be long enough to make the service worthwhile.

However the government would have to approve additional funding to support people's service if they choose to work longer than six months.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:31 March 17, 2010 by Adamts
6 months? I understand the logic Germany uses to justify conscription, but 6 months? I hope Germany finally end this practice entirely and transition to a purely professional military.
16:31 March 17, 2010 by Thames
6 moths is simply not enough time to train troops.
19:37 March 17, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
6 months? That's playtime. That doesn't make a proper soldier. 6 months doesn't prepare you to be a functioning part of an army. The entire reason that we have conscription is so that we don't have to have a large standing army that would be necessary to put Germany into a credible military role when you consider the resources of our neighbors and nearest possible threats. This is a complete joke. 2 years should be the minimum.
04:28 March 18, 2010 by Thames
Basic Training is just that basic.

Soldiers need to be integrated into a unit for a period of time to build on what was learned in basic training. They also need to take part in combined arms operations. And perhaps some joint training with NATO this can not be accomplished is such a short time. Beside avoiding an unneeded war the best thing you can do for a soldier is to give him proper training.
16:00 March 18, 2010 by Henckel
@ jmjdk: I'm reminded of the subterfuge used in 1807-12 when the Prussian army was limited to 42,000 men by Napoleon; men were trained and held in service for a shorter period, meaning that when Prussia was able to change sides in 1812-13 they had a huge pool of trained manpower to draw upon.
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