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Guttenberg proposes trial period for new soldiers

DDP/DPA/The Local · 29 Aug 2010, 10:19

Published: 29 Aug 2010 10:19 GMT+02:00

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"We can conceive of a trial period in the Bundeswehr," Guttenberg told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. "After six months, anyone could decide, 'Being a soldier is not for me.' And vice versa, the Bundeswehr can decide that 'This young man doesn't fit here.'"

Last week, the defence minister announced his intention to cut troops numbers from 252,000 soldiers to 163,500 and effectively abolish conscription by mid-2011. Guttenberg said, however, that he intended to keep military service anchored in the German constitution.

Among the reforms envisioned by Guttenberg are plans to develop a 7,500 to 15,000-strong force that serves on a short-term basis, between 12 and 23 months. The defence minister said he hoped to attract good candidates through solid pay and educational opportunities.

"We want to encourage as many young people as possible to offer service to society," he told the newspaper.

Guttenberg addressed mounting opposition within his own conservative camp to the military reform plans – saying his political future was not the issue. Party conventions scheduled in October and November for Merkel’s CDU and Guttenberg’s Bavarian sister party the CSU are expected to be key in deciding on the final reforms.

"It's not about what it means for me," he said. "I have to fulfil my responsibility and that's based on doing what's necessary."

The defence minister also responded to a recent suggestion by outgoing Hessian state premier Roland Koch to develop a mandatory community service programme for young adults:

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"I'm very sympathetic to the basic idea," Guttenberg said. "But it would require changing the constitution and – considering the 700,000 to 800,000 young people each year – quite a lot of money."

Guttenberg is currently in Afghanistan on an unannounced visit. On Sunday, the defence minister and Norbert Lammert, president of the lower house of parliament, attended a ceremony for fallen German troops. Talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and NATO Commander General David Petraeus are also on the agenda.

DDP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:15 August 29, 2010 by wenddiver
New soldiers are under enough stress already, they don't need to be on probation too. If a Soldier completes the hell of boot camp, it would be unfair to send him home without a job or opportunity to prove himself by service to the nation. Sgt. Alvin York was a Consensous (probably mispelelled, never been one) Objector, but when he went into combat in World War I he destroyed six machine gun nests and captured about a hundred soldiers. I went through US Army Basic Training in the 1980's at Ft. McClellan, Alabama, and it was one long adventure in abuse, violence, and cussing, all done under a large poster saying Abuse, violence and inappopriate remarks would not be tolerated and all recruits would be treated as Professional Soldiers. To do that and be sent home unemployed, would probably be mentaly crushing. Most young soldiers coming out of Basic Training are looking forward to going over seas.

I am glad I did the Army it taught me discipline, how to look after other people, how to be polite and unabusive and how to laugh at the most awful of times.

Your Defence Minister doesn't know much about Soldeiring. Look at the picture of him, he is very impressed with himself. Armys aren't about you, they are about the Nation, buddies to your right and your left and not letting them down.
03:45 August 30, 2010 by Stephen Real
There are real merits to Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg proposal to revamp the Force, although I lament the idea of the Bundeswehr being downsizing anymore ground forces then it has too.

In my mind I can not see how you could maintain a professional Army without extending their stay in service for at least 36 months with all the training and experience that is necessary for a soldier to get up to task.

If I was in charge?

One thing I would do would be to get all ISAF ground force, in Afghanistan, to wear the same multi-cam camouflage, even the Bundeswehr.

I have great expectations for the Bundeswehr in the future.

Western forces are clearly going to be downsized across the board, miltary cooperation is one of the West's strongest assets.
12:21 August 30, 2010 by whatzup
I propose an immediate opt out program for the military. If a recruit suddenly in the heat of battle decides that the army was a bad career choice he or she should be able to opt out on the spot and either surrender or go home, whichever is more convenient.
23:16 August 30, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen

Actually, while von Guttenberg may not know a lot about the common man, he does know quite a bit about being a common soldier. He was a mountain trooper and is still a sergeant of the reserves.
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