De Maizière worried about army quitters

De Maizière worried about army quitters
Photo: DPA
German Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière said Sunday he wants to find out why so many volunteers are leaving the army during training. Over 20 percent have quit training since the Bundeswehr became an all-volunteer force in July.

De Maizière said 780 of 3,459 volunteers (22.5 percent) have quit for reasons ranging from new job offers to deciding the military is not what they expected.

“I cannot be satisfied with the number of drop-outs,” the defence minister said, before adding, “It’s right and fair that someone who comes voluntarily can also volunteer to leave.”

On October 4, 4,542 new volunteers will enter Germany’s military service for 15 months, although they are free to leave during training.

Officials acknowledge that the Bundeswehr has serious problems – numerous reports over the past few months have described deficiencies in training, housing and support provided to families.

A magazine report alleged earlier this month that 20 percent of soldier deaths during foreign missions are by suicide, although the government declined to comment.

MPs in the German Bundestag have also expressed concern about “severe” equipment shortages in the Bundeswehr, especially a lack of ammunition, which could be putting soldiers at risk.

Focus magazine reported that the Defence Ministry is currently trying to deal with the problems, and is also attempting to make military service more attractive for young people and families.

The ministry wants to create daycare centres and better housing for soldiers, and is looking to revamp the service’s pension scheme to bring it in line with private sector offers.

“We’ll continue to work on making volunteer service in the Bundeswehr an attractive and demanding time in the lives of young people,” de Maizière said.

The army is expected to produce an assessment of the first few months of the new era of voluntary service at the end of December.

The Local/DPA/DAPD/mdm

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