• Germany's news in English

Military faces looming soldier shortage

The Local · 1 Mar 2011, 14:20

Published: 01 Mar 2011 07:37 GMT+01:00
Updated: 01 Mar 2011 14:20 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

According to statistics from the Defence Ministry, which the daily Financial Times Deutschland reported on Tuesday, the number of interested volunteers is well below the numbers needed by the armed forces, the Bundeswehr, after Germany abolishes the draft.

According to military documents from early February, the number of volunteers interested in enlisting in April is currently just 10 percent of the target, the newspaper reported.

The statistics have raised fears in the Bundeswehr that the end of conscription could endanger the readiness of German forces.

The Bundeswehr hopes to enlist up to 15,000 volunteers a year in a new all-professional military. They would serve between 12 and 23 months. The plan is to reduce the armed forces from its current size of 240,000 soldiers to around 170,000.

But the resignation of Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg of Tuesday could cloud what would be the biggest reform effort in the Bundeswehr's history.

A spokesman for the Defence Ministry admitted to the Financial Times Deutschland that it was "not yet satisfied" with the interest level, but warned against jumping to conclusions. The ministry plans to start an enlistment campaign this month to get the numbers up.

Story continues below…

DAPD/The Local/kdj

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

09:16 March 1, 2011 by moistvelvet
With only 10% interested in volunteering isn't it a bit hypocritical of Germany to comment on the democracy in other countries when they themselves obviously force young men into uniform and armed service who given the real choice would not volunteer.

The Bundeswehr is bloated with useless conscripts that at the end of the day would rather be at home than on the front line, get rid of them and make it a proffesional armed force with better incentives for the right people.
10:26 March 1, 2011 by pepsionice
There are three problems here. First, I'm not sure that incentives exist in today's environment to entice a sufficient number of German youths (men mostly) to join. Education is free. Pay structure after getting your apprenticeship done is already outstanding as a civilian...so you can't really compete. Early retirement? The German public won't dare accept that.

Second problem is simply the career path of most German kids by age sixteen. Most have plans and don't really want to change them to include the military.

Finally, you come to this issue of political slant. Even by early teens....a fair number of German youth are anti-military and find it a bit crazy to even consider the military as an option.
10:33 March 1, 2011 by storymann
An all professional military is difficult to achieve when times are good.The pay needs to exceed the average pay for non military personnel ,if you are to attract people in a good social system like Germany's.

In the USA there are areas of high unemployment that offer good opportunities for recruiters.

Germany will find many of it's recruits from areas in the former GDR that have higher than normal unemployment.It is doubtful however that the goal of 170,000 will be achieved with good volunteers unless the pay is very attractive.
10:47 March 1, 2011 by auniquecorn
His plan is to reduce the Bundeswehr from its current size of 240,000 soldiers to around 170,000.

I think he can do this within the first year. at this rate, easily
11:52 March 1, 2011 by michael4096
There is really only one problem: what does a military career offer a youngster?

- it used to be cool, not many brownie points anymore

- it used to lead to good civilian careers afterwards, leadership & responsibility, technical achievements.. - the good bits are outsourced to civilians anyway now

- it used to be something to be proud of, defending the country! Now you are fighting to instal puppet regimes in someone else's empire

The military in Germany is just at the hard end of this problem, most countries are going the same way. Unless the modern world finds a new use for armies that offers young people what they need - we won't have any armies soon
16:47 March 1, 2011 by strahlungsamt
I'll tell you what Germany's problem is. They're CHEAP!!!

I'll bet you anything a soldier (who gets sent to some Durka-Durkastan to get his head or legs blown off) does it on a 400 euro basis.

Then he's fighting to defend American Oil interests or something like that.

The only ones I can see joining up are the NPD/Nazis. Once that happens, there will be a major incident down the line somewhere that will make the Gorch Fock look like tabloid gossip.
17:58 March 1, 2011 by michael4096
yer - wot ee sed

Now tell me again why the bright young things needed to lead armies should join up?
18:01 March 1, 2011 by johnny108
I"ll sign up, once I get out of the US army- German soldiers only go to the desert for 4 to 6 months.

I've never done less than 12!!
18:56 March 1, 2011 by Major B
Oh just great. A nation of 80,000,000 can't raise 15,000 volunteers a year. I strongly feel Guttenberg was wronged but his reformation plan supposedly had all this worked out and projected.

And American has an aircraft carrier off the coast of Libya, when America doesn't even get oil from there -- Libyan oil goes to Europe.

Can't wait till it wakes up and leaves the Europeans to their own defense!!!!
Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd