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Germany must be ‘ready for war by 2029’ – defense minister

This will require “a new form of military service,” Boris Pistorius told lawmakers

Germany must prepare to wage war before the end of the decade, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has declared. However, the German military lacks basic equipment, and a parliamentary report suggests it won’t be war-ready for half a century.

“We must be ready for war by 2029,” Pistorius proclaimed on Wednesday, during a session of parliament. “We must provide deterrence to prevent things coming to the worst,” he added, in comments carried by Der Spiegel.

There are currently around 181,000 active-duty members of the Bundeswehr, or German armed forces. Pistorius told lawmakers that this number must increase, ideally through a “new form of military service” that “cannot be completely free of obligations.” 

Hovever, Germany abolished mandatory military service in 2011, and reviving the draft has proven difficult for Pistorius. After weighing military reform packages presented by his ministry in April, Pistorius announced a plan last month to incentivize more teenagers to join the Bundeswehr. The plan is reportedly the most cautious of the three suggested by the ministry and does not mention the word “conscription.”

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Germany drops controversial military draft plans – Der Spiegel

Instead, it would require all 18-year-olds to answer a questionnaire about their physical condition, with the most promising candidates encouraged to sign up with free driving licenses and student loan discounts, among other rewards, Der Spiegel reported.

“In an emergency, we need strong young women and men who can defend this country,” the minister said on Wednesday.

Aside from boosting recruitment, Germany has also struggled to get weapons and equipment into the hands of those already serving. Despite Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s 2022 pledge to spend €100 billion ($107.35 billion) equipping and modernizing the Bundeswehr, no significant improvements have been made in the two years since, an annual report by the parliamentary commissioner for the Bundeswehr, Eva Hoegl, revealed in March.

According to a Defense Ministry document seen by German news outlet Bild, the Bundeswehr’s orders for uniforms, helmets, backpacks, and bulletproof vests were not fully met last year. Troops are also short on night-vision goggles, the paper stated, noting that a batch intended for German soldiers was sent to the Israeli military instead.

READ MORE: Germany begins to militarize: When have we seen this before?

“Rank-and-file soldiers… lack even the most ordinary infrastructure, ammunition and equipment,” the New York Times reported in November, revealing that training exercises were routinely canceled at the Bundeswehr’s artillery school due to ammunition being sent to Ukraine. At the time, troops at the school had not fired the military’s latest howitzers, due to all 14 being shipped straight to Kiev.

Should Germany’s military revitalization continue at its current pace, “it would take about half a century before just the current infrastructure of the [military] was completely renovated,” Hoegl wrote in her 2023 report to parliament.


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