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Armed forces personnel could be cut by 100,000

The Local · 22 Jun 2010, 12:25

Published: 22 Jun 2010 12:25 GMT+02:00

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Bundeswehr Chief of Staff Volker Wieker has had plans drawn up that would reduce the armed forces’ personnel from 250,000 to 150,000 to meet the tough savings demands being made by the Finance Ministry, daily Die Welt reported on Tuesday.

However, Wieker is also having alternative plans drawn up that would mean lighter cuts, the paper reported.

All three branches of the military – the army, airforce and navy – as well as support and medical staff would be severely affected by the cutbacks.

The army would bear the brunt, being reduced to 47,000 soldiers from its present strength of 94,188. The airforce would drop to 19,000 staff compared with its present 42,212 personnel, while the navy would fall to 9,000 staff from its current strength of 17,476. The support staff would be cut by two thirds from its present 72,685 to about 26,000 while medical staff would be cut from 23,775 to 11,000.

There would also be reserve personnel, however.

Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has in recent weeks ordered the Bundeswehr’s top commanders to start doing their sums on how and where cuts could be made. Wieker has been asked to present his alternatives for making the cuts by the end of July.

The modelling is based on the expectation that the Finance Ministry needs to cut €4.3 billion from defence spending in the next four years.

Story continues below…

Military affairs spokesman for the centre-left Social Democrats accused Guttenberg of conducting “security policy according to the budgetary position.”

The 150,000-staff model was a “radical surgery” that was “not politically justified,” he said.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:43 June 22, 2010 by jerryzeigler
Great idea...would be nice if the US war juggernaut would think of doing this eh...
15:09 June 22, 2010 by Bushdiver
Probably a good idea since the military in Germany is a joke to begin with. If they're going to cut down that low they mind as well do away with the military all together.
15:53 June 22, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
You generally don't maintain a military because you need it. You tend to maintain it because if you do end up needing it, it's really damned hard to create one out of nothing.

So, no, we shouldn't get rid of the military. If we need to cut the size of the active duty forces, we should focus hard on increasing the quality of training for reserve and professional forces so that we can have abled staff officers and professional enlisted men that can quickly rebuild an army.

I think peace is the greatest thing ever. I *love* that the western world is at peace with itself. It's awesome. That being said, Russia is run by a gaggle of lunatics, there is a brain-dead horde of religious fundamentalists just across the med, and world resources are running shorter and shorter. If you should really think that a major conflict within our lifetimes is impossible, I urge you to strongly reexamine your thinking. We most definitely need a military.
18:35 June 22, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Grenadier --

There are some Americans who are so convinced of American "exceptionalism" (admittedly an oxymoron) that they revel in disparagement of other countries and cultures. It only reflects their own ignorance and narrow world view. It is not representative of the perspective of educated Americans.

To suggest that the German military "is a joke to begin with," as one person has, is incredibly craven, given the ultimate sacrifice of life that many German soldiers have made in support of the obscene war in Afghanistan. It is an insult to those German soldiers, their families and their loved ones. If the author of that remark is an American, I as an American am embarrassed for his callousness.

I saw a young German woman soldier on the S-Bahn today. She couldn't have been more than 20 or 21 years old, very pretty, demure, with innocent eyes. She was on her way to report for duty. I wondered what fate will befall her -- whether she'll become just another statistic in this endless war. I wished her the best. It didn't occur to me to tell her that her service to her country is a joke.
18:41 June 22, 2010 by Eagle1
14:43 June 22, 2010 by jerryzeigler

"Great idea...would be nice if the US war juggernaut would think of doing this eh..."

Eh yourself, you douche. What would you have done? Allow Saddam Hussein to take over Saudi Arabia and the bulk of the world's oil? Permit Al Queda and the Taliban to grow in Afghanistan unchecked? Don't worry, Europe. Continue to sit on your hands while the U.S. does the heavy lifting. When China invades Taiwan, we will be there. When North Korea attacks (again), we will be there. When extremeist Muslims attempt to take over another country, we will be there. Don't worry. Just sit back, relax, and continue to pretend that strong standing militaries aren't necessary. Germany needs to get back towards the center. This leftist crap is embarrasing.
23:06 June 22, 2010 by whatzup
Well said Eagle1!! The only reason europe has enjoyed the relatively high living standards and social insurance that it has is because Uncle Sam has been footing the defensive bill. Take the US out of the equation and europe would scarcely afford to be able to feed itself never mind debate whether it could downsize its armed forces. The moment America walks the Russians will be all over the continent in a NY minute. And the europeans know it.
23:22 June 22, 2010 by Prufrock2010
American "exceptionalism." I love it.

Saddam Hussein was going to take over Saudi Arabia and the bulk of the world's oil? Well, at least that's an inadvertently honest attempt to justify the invasion of Iraq, as opposed to the WMD lie perpetrated by the Bush mob. It's really the meat of the neo-con rationale that formed the basis of the so-called "Bush Doctrine." Whatever we do, however we do it, we have to control that oil.

According to McChrystal's (sp?) testimony last week, there are fewer than 100 al Qaeda now in Afghanistan. That certainly justifies the presence of 100,000 American troops and a similar number of American mercenaries on Afghan soil to prop up our current puppet, Hamid Karzai, and his corrupt regime.

But I rest easily at night knowing that the US is the savior of the world, even as America is going bankrupt for the pleasure -- just as bin Laden predicted.

Vietnam redux.
01:16 June 23, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen

"Well said Eagle1!! The only reason europe has enjoyed the relatively high living standards and social insurance that it has is because Uncle Sam has been footing the defensive bill. Take the US out of the equation and europe would scarcely afford to be able to feed itself never mind debate whether it could downsize its armed forces. The moment America walks the Russians will be all over the continent in a NY minute. And the europeans know it."

The real-life numbers actually don't support any of those statements. At all. Yes, the US presence is useful. Yes, it makes things less expensive. However, I would be careful going beyond that.

The GDP of the EU is significantly higher than the United States. Geographically, we are smaller, but economically and by capita, we are much larger than the US. We're also perfectly capable of stopping the Russians when we aren't arguing amongst ourselves; we have, after all, done it a few times so far.

I am the first person to acknowledge that the US has helped Europe in many ways, but you Americans do have a terribly egotistical tendency to read history in a way that favors exclusively you. A brilliant example is how Ostpolitik and Kohl are completely discounted in ending the cold war, versus Ronald Reagan, who really didn't do much of anything, really, except make some very well-written speeches. I would expect that of him of course, since he was a good actor as well.

Anyway, all that aside, I restate my point. It's very difficult to talk to Americans in an intellectually honest way, because, on average, they tend to let jingoism creep into the tone of the discussion very, very quickly.


Yeah, but 100 Al-Queda are not the same thing as 8 million Taliban and sympathizers.
02:10 June 23, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Grenadier --

Yes, but if you'll recall, the entire rationale for invading Afghanistan was to rid it of al Qaeda, not the Taliban. Somehow that objective morphed into a war with the Taliban, who had nothing to do with 9/11, although they are indisputably bad actors. But it has never been the proper role of the US to force regime change, no matter how distasteful the regime. This was a Bush / neo-con political construct spearheaded by Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz. In fact, some of the tribal Taliban were very useful to the US during the early months of the post-9/11 attack on Afghanistan in the effort to find and eliminate bin Laden (does anybody remember him?). Now it is all about propping up the corrupt Karzai regime.

By this time tomorrow General McChrystal will probably be fired (and with good reason), which offers hope that this war will eventually come to an end. McChrystal is a black ops kind of guy who doesn't much cotton to civilian authority and makes his criticisms public, which is a problem under the US system, so he is about to meet the fate of MacArthur.

I agree with your assessment of American jingoism. It forecloses intelligent discourse. I disagree that Reagan was a good actor. He could read a speech written by someone else, that's about it. He couldn't act worth a damn and he made plenty of movies to prove it.
11:08 June 23, 2010 by whatzup
@Prufrock2010 Of course we have to control the oil, how else would you get to work in the morning? And the US may be going bankrupt these days but europe isn't far behind. But don't worry China will continue to bankroll us both, who else is going to buy their stuff?

@ Der Grenadier aus Aachen Numbers are only part of the equation - try convincing a european electorate that it needs to finance the immense cost of an independant and adequate defense against the Russians and see how far you get. As far as stopping them on your own, the last time there was an all out brawl around here they kicked your ass, almost by themselves. And I wouldn't completely discredit Ronald's part in collapsing the USSR. His policy of spending the Russians into ruination was a lot more effective than any talk of Ostpolitik in the editorial pages of the Abendblatt. Looks like any intelligent discourse on this subject is foreclosed by your lack of any leg to stand on.
12:47 June 23, 2010 by Prufrock2010
whatzup --

I don't have to rely on oil to get to work in the morning, as I work from home. I also have a fuel efficient car. But thanks for asking. I guess you believe that fighting these wars in order to dominate the world's finite oil supply is some sort of manifest destiny.

As for Reagan, please identify one single thing he did that contributed to the ruination of the USSR. Just one. In point of fact, the single greatest cause of the Soviet collapse was their prolonged misadventure in Afghanistan, the identical scenario that will be the ruination of the US. Okay, I'll concede one point for Reagan. He did finance Osama bin Laden in the Afghan war against the Soviets and in so doing helped to create al Qaeda. I suppose that makes him a candidate for Mount Rushmore.
12:49 June 23, 2010 by LancashireLad
@ Eagle1 and whatzup

You guys aren't soldiers, are you? No real soldier would write that.

Your comments insult all of those service personnel *of many nations the world over* who daily risk their lives so that you can sit infront of your keyboards and spew out your thoughless, uneducated bilge in safety.

Please also realise that the US is only a part of the whole and without those other countries' service personnel backing you up, you would be in an even more sorry state than you currently are.
14:09 June 23, 2010 by whatzup
Real soldiers LancashireLad? We know who the real soldiers are when we look at the casualty figures and see whose country's soldiers do the major share of the dying in Afghanistan. The backup is appreciated but equating place keeping with being on the front line is not giving the US military the proper respect for the overwhelmingly dominant role it plays in the campaign. Without the US there would be no campaign of any significance.

As for President Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" program, which he made clear was part of a plan to bankrupt the then-Soviet Union by pouring billions into a missile shield, it did just that. Which is why he indeed deserves to be on Mt. Rushmore.
14:25 June 23, 2010 by LancashireLad
The point is, you are only considering the US soldiers as worthy of praise. Why don't you consider other nations' soldiers as also worhty of praise? They are all doing their bit for their respective countries.

What about UK soldiers, German soldiers and the other nations' soldiers who are also involved in conflicts that they didn't start? (thank Blair the UK's role is not quite so blameless here.)

One of Obama's first acts was to ask other nations to commit more troops. Why would he do that if you didn't need other countries to help you?
01:57 June 24, 2010 by Prufrock2010
"As for President Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" program, which he made clear was part of a plan to bankrupt the then-Soviet Union by pouring billions into a missile shield, it did just that. Which is why he indeed deserves to be on Mt. Rushmore."

Sorry to have to revert to the vernacular here, but the foregoing statement is complete bullsh*t. Reagan's cockamamie "Star Wars" program would have bankrupted the US had it been implemented. The Soviet Union was primarily bankrupted by the Afghanistan war (among other things, such as uncontrolled expansionism), as former Soviet generals and strategists have candidly declared in the western press within the past six months. Check the archives of the International Herald Tribune in its op-ed section, or read a goddamned book.
11:54 June 24, 2010 by whatzup
Oh the Herald Tribune op-ed section, there's an authoritative source. The Russians wouldn't by any chance be lying, just a little, to discourage us from succeeding on their border where they themselves failed would they? Nah. The left always turns blue whenever communism's demise is laid to anything external, especially if Reagan is suggested to have effected it. We spent them into bankruptcy is the the simple fact of the matter. Tuned out that the Russian system couldn't keep up with us by providing guns and butter too in the long term. Deal with it.
14:50 June 24, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen

A popular fiction. But just that; a fiction. Gorbachev had a much greater impact on the Soviet Union than Reagan's spending spree ever did. The spending in 1989, comparatively, was a drop in the bucket compared to World War 2. If it had ever been existentially dangerous to the Soviet, they would have just purged a few more million until the budgets were balanced.

Trying to attribute an event this big to a single cause is a naive perception of events, anyway.
19:31 June 24, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Not to mention that Reagan's "Star Wars" fantasy program was never implemented because it was too costly and nonfeasible. In fact, the very term "Star Wars" was coined by some pundit as a term of derision. Deal with that, whatzup. Then check your "facts." Jesus H. Christ. I lived with Reagan's bullsh*t from the time he was governor of California and damn near bankrupted the state. Then he tried to bankrupt the country. And if you want an authoritative account of what a treacherous, quizzling SOB Reagan was, read a book called "Naming Names," which describes in detail how Reagan, then the president of the Screen Actors Guild, would routinely have dinner parties for his Hollywood friends and then turn them in to the McCarthy Committee and the FBI for being "communist sympathizers." Many of those people lost their careers and some took their own lives. A bigger piece of sh*t never walked on American soil. Reagan will always remain a disgrace, despite his bellicose rhetoric against a moribund Soviet Union. Just like Bush -- all hat and no horse. Just a two-bit movie actor who ratted out his friends, busted unions and set America on a course of economic disaster by tripling the cumulative national debt in 8 short years. F*ck Reagan and the lame-assed horse he rode in on.
00:12 June 25, 2010 by whatzup
If you're so excited about Reagan Prufrock2010 it means he must have been doing something right. Don't believe everything you read, especially if its authored by a guy by the name of Victor Navasky. A publisher of The Nation he is certifiably of the "left" and everything he writes should be taken with a large grain of salt. Sure Reagan testified before congress that communism was a threat in the movie business and of course it was, the reds were (and are?) very sophisticated about using the media to their own craven ends. But the undeniable fact is that communism in Russia collapsed on Reagan's watch no matter how hard revisionists might try to mitigate that glorious fact or deny Reagan's role. For that reason alone he will always be listed as one of our greatest presidents.
00:40 June 25, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Whatever you say. I won't waste any more energy trying to reason with ideologues of any stripe. Believe whatever fiction you want to believe with my blessing. Facts are obviously not a relevant component of your universe.
10:53 June 25, 2010 by whatzup
You're sure about what I've read and where I seem to live Prufrock2010 and its that kind of attitude that fatally undermines your opinions and your postings here. America is exceptional and its too bad the general realization of that fact is out of fashion at the moment as it portends badly for the world's future whether one lives in Germany or not.
12:40 June 25, 2010 by Prufrock2010
whatzup --

I asked you to identify the sources of your "information." A simple question. You are either unwilling or unable to provide them, reminiscent of Sarah Palin's inability to identify a single newspaper she reads. Thus the opinions you cite as "facts" cannot be given any credence.

I never said I was "sure" about where you live or what you've read. I said "you seem to be an American living in America." For all I know you might be a Blackwater mercenary living in Wiesbaden. I couldn't care less. Your disdain for German soldiers suggests that you are not a soldier. As for what you've read, I can only infer from your refusal to respond to that simple question, and your penchant for disseminating false information, that you haven't read much at all. So I congratulate you on your self-delusion about your so-called "exceptionalism" (which others call hubris) and dismiss you as just another irrelevant American jingoist.
13:16 June 25, 2010 by Major B
The comments above -- from 1 - 24. Ugh!!! It's getting ugly. For the first time I'm wondering just how long NATO can/should stand. You know, I'm disgusted with jingoistic statments too sometimes. But memories sure are short!!! After two world wars, with thousands of dead U.S. military in European graves, that super expensive and long assed Cold War and that that **#* Yuguslavia fiasco I wonder why some Americans are jingoistic. Just know if the U.S. EVER refutes its commitment toward a common defense then it will NEVER rejoin. The people will go 1939(Americans were very isolationist then and the sentiment is still there) Europe's "GDP is bigger than the U.S." And? So what. There is no true combined super budget and so that is irelevant. "Capable of defending ourselves". Really? Please explain to us why the European Great Powers didn't come together and fix that mess in Bosnia and Kosovo in the early to late 90s then. That was trully disgusting and I am personally still pissed about it. There was all this talk about the EuroCorps in the 90's. Intellectual discussions don't win anything!! Action does, as proven from 1933 - 1944 in a European country, even if it was the wrong action. My International Relations professor used to say his European professor would say the problem with European countries was their "petty little nationalisms". The recent banking crisis sure demonstrated that. Lets see if the Euro will survive the next 5 years first.
13:34 June 25, 2010 by whatzup
"Irrelevant American jingoist"! I like that. I suggest you go up to some grunt on the front lines in Afghanistan and try calling him irrelevant - try that with the wrong soldier and might be smirking with the other side of your mouth. The US is as relevant on the world stage as it ever was and folks of your half a$$ed politcal persuasion never could stand it, not that it ever made a difference. You're in for some major disappointment for the next few years. Good luck with that.
17:50 June 25, 2010 by Major B
One point above is very legitimate. This is a German paper yet time and time again many have used the military issues to get into American politics. Certainly some U.S. policies affect Germany and vice versa but using this to take swipes at the U.S. Administration or to criticize the American President reveals a darker more personal side. First,one takes a swipe at the U.S. military, " juggernaut.. bla bla bla" and then its on...... someone calls the ;"German military a joke". And nonfactual and ignorant statements will be answered, this person included. However some cogent points have been made. Western Europe, thank God(yes, I said it), is at finally at true peace going on 65 years now. Those unfounded criticisms above about Pres Reagan ignored the true impact of his administration and the monumental effect his defense buildup had on trapping the Soviets into spending it could not keep pace with, who at the same time was crippling itself in Afghanistan. Metternich would have loved to have worked in the present European environment, paid for horribly by both Europeans AND Americans. As much as this generation(and I presume the next) wants to forget this, it will take DECADES for this memory to finally subside with Americans. I think the drastic active duty military cuts by Germany to an already small military is Short Sighted. If anyone ever doubts the Russian Nationalists( Putin, super nationalist # 1) are still Angry over what I said above just remember what happened to Georgia less than two years ago. What about that American military juggernaut mentioned above? Didn't seem to deter the Russians. Senator McCains's (then the Republican Presidential candidate) "close relationship" with the Georgian President didn't matter and the Russians were dramatically contemptuous of it. They didn't even CONSIDER any reaction from European militaries. So go ahead, cut away, trim and trim and trim. America has a Congress committed to fighting international terror, defending its interests, and can readily find other "forward bases" besides those in Western Europe. Why should it keep them there in this climate, especially if a country like Germany wants to do away with its military, for all practical purposes? And the way it is going with some, the same protests and blaming about the US bases heard in Greece in the 80's will stop cropping up in Northern Europe. If the present U.S. President is in office when that starts happening in 2013 or 2014 then just watch how quickly America implements a plan to quickly and dramatically cut military expenditures in Germany, ¦quot;saving capital needed for American internal investments¦quot; on people ¦quot;who are rich and can defend themselves. So go ahead, give a Gulf oil gusher sized argument to the many American leftists and conservatives too. I have a feeling the Poles just might be receptive to opening up some old Soviet bases to the U.S. After all, they have a big diaspora in America too.
01:48 June 26, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Major B --

Good points. I think the most salient of them are your statements about nationalism. Nationalism, jingoism, chauvinism, exceptionalism all become interchangeable terms, and the inevitable result is toxic to any hope of of a planet living in peace, however tenuous.
00:30 July 7, 2010 by panzercommandant@live.com
no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no!!!!!
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