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Germans undecided about military service

DPA/The Local · 31 Jul 2010, 13:59

Published: 31 Jul 2010 13:59 GMT+02:00

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According to a survey conducted by the Emnid polling service for the news magazine Focus, 43 percent of Germans would like to see the end of compulsory military service, while 51 percent would like to retain it.

Emnid questioned about 1,000 people at the end of July. A recent survey carried out by the Lepizig Institute for Market Research came to a similar conclusion.

The Defence Ministry is considering reducing the size of Germany's standing army from 252,000 to either 205,000 or 170,000 troops. The second option would mean abandoning conscription.

Saxony state premier Stanislaw Tillich, of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper on Saturday that he was against ending conscription.

"The constant exchange between people in military service and society is of central importance," he said. A completely professional army would have no connection with the German population, Tillich argued, adding, "On top of this, conscription can inspire young people to join the army."

Story continues below…

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:20 July 31, 2010 by auslanderus
what I have seen and read of the German military compared to the USA, there a bunch of boy scouts. It should be an honor to serve there country but not as a joke.Why do they want to reduce the military when they should be making it larger and more stronger because the need will come one day and there will be no one to fill the boots.
18:17 July 31, 2010 by christmascorner
Why not cut the military? When trouble comes again " call the Yanks" just like the last big one? That way all you socialist do not have to pay for it.
22:20 July 31, 2010 by bernie1927
Amazing, the way you guys feel. During WW2 Germany had the best army in the world, and they were conscripts. Everybody had to serve, incl. sons of politicians. Today, the US has trouble finding decent soldiers. They are scraping the bottom of the barrel and even take criminals. You really think that is the way to go? Granted, both of the current wars were totally unnecessary and manage to make us more hated than ever before, while the real culprit - Al Quaida - laughs. Why should Germany contribute a single soldier to this idiocy? Conscription is the only way to go. The way the German army of WW2 has been maligned, I am surprised that the Germans want to have a decent army at all.
03:24 August 1, 2010 by wenddiver
To be a nation or not to be, tis it nobler to defend ones Country, Family and Self or Grander still to submit to the Muslim Terrorists, Russians and Chinese. Ah, to do push-ups under a drill sergeants instruction or lick foreigners boots as a servant slave. To embrace the danger of Freedom or the security of submission to evil, every country must chose.

In the choice, will be decided whether Germany will exist at all. Chose well, and if you chose the dangerous choice Freedom, train and Arm your men well, because toil and pain are the lot of those who worship at the altar of Freedom.
06:20 August 1, 2010 by recherche
Conscription offers much to German society. It adds much to the youngs' maturation and experience, to their skills, to social cohesion and advancement, as well as obvious military significance. Very often conscripted armed forces are a laughable mess, look at the US. But it does not have to be that way. It can be a creditable and an invaluable resource if appropriately managed. If Germans knew that that was what is planned, to create something to be admired, the great majority would very much favour conscription. How do you create a Military of which the young eagerly want to be a part? How do you make an institution that they will see as a critically important part of their maturation? Well I do not know, but I think it is a good idea.
10:00 August 1, 2010 by twisted
Bringing in a young man for six months of training is a total waste of money. If you are going to have a draft, make it worthwhile, a minimum of two years. At least then the conscript can learn a decent trade or skill. The current period of service for conscripts is a joke and in the event of an armed emergency, if they were to be called back to service, they would be pretty useless, not having anything more than the basic training. Either go professional military or make the draft worthwhile.
13:17 August 1, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
Survey? "Emnid questioned about 1,000 people ..." A 1000 people in an area that is more inclined to favor this? If you surveyed the people I know, it would show 100% against!

Charlie Rangle wants this in the US... I think the chances are, he'll get the boot before that happens...
18:47 August 1, 2010 by mikecowler
I agrew with twisted if mandatory conscription was a minimum of two years apprentiships could be taught....also unemployment would be kept low...what would you prefer to pay your taxes for unskilled un diciplined drop outs on the streets causing crime, taking drugs or conscripts?
05:38 August 2, 2010 by SilberFuchs
Where else can young people get to know their countrymen as well as in an Army of conscripts from the entire cross section of the population? Not only the indigenous, but also immigrants who care not to assimilate. You fill in the desired ethnic variants here please.
10:08 August 2, 2010 by OMFG
No army at all, that's the way to go...

"...toil and pain are the lot of those who worship at the altar of Freedom." - Excuse me? I know a country whose citizens are with constant regularity surveyed as the happiest country of the world, year after year, they do not even think about terrorism as a threat, they feel pretty much indifferent to what the powers of this world have to say about and against each other, and...they have no army.
11:19 August 2, 2010 by Prufrock2010
recherche --

You wrote: "Very often conscripted armed forces are a laughable mess, look at the US."

There is no conscription in the US.
18:33 August 2, 2010 by AirForceGuy
bernie1927, you have it all wrong! ALL the US military services are easily meeting their recruiting goals. This may mostly be due to the poor civilian economy overall, but people (even highly educated and trained ones) are seeking our jobs military services and thus the services' induction standards can be high. (Read the statistics for yourself online)
19:21 August 2, 2010 by Prufrock2010
The Air Force might be one thing, but you don't have to be able to rhyme cat with rat to join the infantry these days. A high school diploma is not a prerequisite for the job of cannon fodder.
21:18 August 2, 2010 by AirForceGuy
Prufrock2010, see the US military recruiting data for last year at


They recruited MORE than their goals! And the military doesn't need 'cannon foder'; today's soldiers and marines have to be able to read and understand tech manuals, even if they are just for a gun, morter or tank...

And yes, there hasn't been conscription (drafting) in the US since the early 1970's.
22:05 August 2, 2010 by wxman
All the political comments previously posted aside, all I'll say is if conscription is done away with, there's no going back. It would improve the overall caliber and morale of the forces, but there's no guarantee you'll have the numbers deemed to be necessary. Reinstatement of conscription would be met with significant resistance.
23:54 August 2, 2010 by Prufrock2010
AirForceGuy --

Thanks for the link. Unless I'm missing something (which would not be unprecedented), those statistics only seem to indicate the number of recruitments compared to the various services' recruiting goals. They don't break down the stats with regard to education, age, race, gender or any of the other factors to which I allude. It's no surprise that the military is meeting or exceeding its recruitment goals in a time of deep recession, double-digit unemployment in some parts of the country, and a profound disparity between the private sector career opportunities of whites and minorities. There are many people who cannot afford a college education and join the military in hopes of benefiting from the GI Bill or simply to be trained in a trade that may be useful when they come out. There are those who come out of high school functionally illiterate with a future of hopelessness. There are those who join because of a sense of patriotism or loyalty. I'd like to see statistics reflecting some of those factors, not just numbers.

I am opposed to military conscription and always have been. However, an all-volunteer military that is largely comprised of social misfits and unemployable minorities reflects a kind of peonage or class system that serves neither the military nor society well. How many educated people of privilege are enlisting in the military today? Those are the numbers I'm more interested in. I wonder what those numbers would be in a time of economic prosperity and a robust job market for all.

BTW, "cannon fodder" is a metaphor not to be taken literally in today's style of combat. It is meant to indicate those who are expendable on the battlefield -- fungible humanity.
10:09 August 3, 2010 by OMFG
Conscription is the reason why soldiers at the Bundeswehr have for a long time been referred to as "Staatsbürger in Uniform" - it does indeed pretty much reflect German society. Whether this is an advantage or a flaw, I'm not going to judge on this.
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