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Defence reform slashes troop numbers

The Local · 18 May 2011, 14:07

Published: 18 May 2011 14:07 GMT+02:00

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"The fact that an imminent conventional attack on Germany is now unlikely means that earlier troop numbers ... are now unnecessary," Thomas de Maizière said in a speech following a cabinet meeting to discuss the plan.

During the Cold War, Germany, divided at the time between East and West, stood on the front line of a potential conflict between NATO and Soviet-backed forces.

The reform, first unveiled in August by then Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, takes into account the end of conscription approved by parliament in March.

Germany was one of the few countries in the NATO military alliance to retain the draft.

In West Germany it was reintroduced in 1956 as a means of ensuring that the military never again became an elitist force with its own political power as was the case in World War II.

In East Germany, a professional volunteer force was set up in 1956, and conscription reintroduced in 1962.

Under the new plan, Germany will have a solely professional force of about 170,000 soldiers, along with 5,000 to 15,000 short-term volunteer recruits. Some 10,000 soldiers will be available on a permanent basis for intervention abroad.

In addition, the number of civilians working for the armed forces will be cut from 76,000 to 55,000 - with numbers reduced to 2,000 at the Defence Ministry.

The general-inspector of the armed forces, the highest military rank, will effectively become chief-of-staff and principal military advisor to the government.

Plans to close some of the country's 400 military bases, always a hot political potato, will be discussed later in the year, de Maizière said.

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The reform is partly aimed at helping save €8.3 billion ($11.0 billion) in military spending over the next four years, in line with an €80-billion package of austerity cuts decided in 2010. For the present, however, it appears unlikely that such savings will be achieved.

"The hoped for figures which I have come across (since taking office in March) under no circumstance fit in with the medium term financing that was planned," de Maizière told ZDF television in comments seen as critical of his predecessor Guttenberg.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:55 May 18, 2011 by jmclewis
Why not reduce numbers as long as big daddy USA does most of the security in the world.
18:11 May 18, 2011 by Masmuka
It will take years when German Soldiers are able to knock with their Standards on US Military Units.

The abondonment of the conscription gives advantage for tax payers spending money only to Professionals and for Males being no longer humiliated in their Human Rights.
19:04 May 18, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
I was conscripted aftre finishing Realschule, and it was a great experience for me. At first it was dreadful, but soon you adapt to military life - and it is only one year. I suppose conscription has its drawbacks, however. It is probably better to have soldiers who actually want to be there for a career, rather than mandatory enlistment.
22:42 May 18, 2011 by Landmine
Yep, you don;t need a big German Army. The enemy is already here in the form of Muslim extremists. Tooo late....
02:05 May 19, 2011 by FIUMAN
As long as Germany refuses to accept its natural role as a world leader and a force for good in the world what is the point of having any military at all. Germany's refusal to fight terrorism in a productive sense, Germany's sitting on the fence and playing both sides in the war on Islamic extremism, Germany's refusal to play an active role in the developing worlds conflicts; Darfur, Somalia, etc, Germany's inability or unwillingness to have the national military capacity to respond to world crisis all beg the question of why even have any military at all? Hell, Jordan and Israel BOTH sent more people to respond to the earthquake in Haiti than Germany even offered and then welshed on. I know, I was there and saw Israeli soldiers drinking coffee with Jordanian soldiers. I didn't see a single BW soldier in the whole country. Germany's self absorbed, moralizing, superior attitude will bite it and bite it badly one day. Bide my words; the USSR may be history but the Russians WILL try to start problems with Germany again. Take a LONG hard look at what the Russians did to Georgia to see that Czar Putin is fond of reminding old enemies of their place. When THAT day comes who does Germany suppose will defend it?
08:42 May 19, 2011 by John Whitehurst
"The reform is partly aimed at helping save €8.3 billion ($11.0 billion) in military spending over the next four years, in line with an €80-billion package of austerity cuts decided in 2010. For the present, however, it appears unlikely that such savings will be achieved."

? who is pulling who's leg. A volunteer force cost a lot of money. A lot more than the touted savings mentioned in the quote above. Does MOD Germany have any numbers to present to the public, I think they know; but the Berger will find out after it is said and done. It is really a political football:

Warning from above, keep your eyes on Russia, worse than Irish with their revenge and long term hate. And most of NATO is now on Russian oil and Natural Gas. What they could not acheive during the cold war; they can now acheive with balackmail. Gets reallly cold when the Natural Gas is shut off. Big Economic factor control from LOVELY RUSSIA, and major industry stops. Take another look Germany, a long hard one... John
09:26 May 19, 2011 by ame64
@Landmine: You are right.

The enemy is already here and getting stronger right in front of us.

The next war will be a war of religion, and when it happens we have a huge problem. They are simply everywhere these days, even in the German politics.

The German Army wont help us then.

The sad thing is, the money they "save", will be trown out the next time some other country has financial problems.
13:43 May 19, 2011 by wenddiver
As the numbers get smaller it is easier for the Danes, Norwegians, Brits and American fighting Armys to provide outer security for them.
14:42 May 19, 2011 by FredFinger
Germany has already thrown in the military towel. And why not, in some years they will have been absorbed from within.
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