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Poorly equipped German army is waiting for financial support from Berlin



Nine months earlier, in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Olaf Scholz announced that he Zeitenwende – a turning point – for Germany’s military and its place in the world. But since then, none of the €100bn in extra money pledged by the German chancellor has made its way to the armed forces.

To allocate money to the parliamentary body set up in the spring modernization and improvement program Got it once. There was no procurement proposal to be submitted with the Ministry of Defence. Its next meeting will not be held until February.

Now opposition lawmakers and some of the country’s leading security experts are asking whether Germany’s commitment to a leading role in European defense is little more than rhetoric.

“Mr. Chancellor – I cannot say it any more, you are breaking your promise to Parliament and especially to the Bundeswehr [federal army]Opposition leader Friedrich Merz said in an attack on Scholz in the Bundestag on Wednesday morning.

Merz said that far from increasing, the 2023 defense budget was set to be reduced by €300 million based on the current government’s plans. German action was lacking”[giving] There was considerable mistrust in NATO and allied capitals, he claimed. Germany has long fallen short of its NATO-mandated obligation to spend the equivalent of 2 percent of GDP on defense.

“It’s a long-term plan, not a fast, busy PR statement,” retorted Scholz. “We want to make sure . . . that we order the right things and that the Bundeswehr is equipped in such a way that it serves for decades to come.

While some in Berlin doubt the chancellor’s sincerity, some believe he has just overstated the scale of the challenge he poses to the country – and understates the political capital needed to deal with it. Estimated by doing.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Germany’s military and its 183,000 active personnel will receive €46.9 billion in funding in 2021.

To achieve its NATO target this year, spending would need to increase to €75.5bn – making Germany third behind the US and China in absolute figures spent on defense – and €85.6bn by 2026 until.

The €100bn special investment fund, if used at once, would be exhausted within half a decade. So the government would need to make a political case for exceeding that deadline in a country that has made pacifism a to define Features of foreign policy after the Cold War.

According to Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, chair of the German parliament’s defense committee, the €100bn fund is “a good start and the right signal”. ,[We have to] Build this mindset – to make it clear to the people in Germany that something is changing.”

It won’t happen overnight, he said:[Some people] Getting impatient about where the money is going and what is to be spent. But you can’t just go to the supermarket and spend €100bn. You need a certain amount of preparation.

Military experts agree that Germany’s military planners have a lot of work to do.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the Bundestag debate on Wednesday
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at Wednesday’s Bundestag debate: ‘This is a long-term plan, not a fast, busy PR statement’ © Christiaan Bossi/Bloomberg

“If you look at the big picture, you realize it came really suddenly,” said Ulrike Franke, a German defense policy scholar at the European Council on Foreign Relations, a think-tank. “On 24 February Russia invaded Ukraine, and on the 27th Scholz suddenly said he was giving an extra €100bn to the military. It was a total shock to the system.”

“The background to this in Germany is one of underinvestment of the armed forces and decades of political neglect.” He said deficiencies in capabilities on land, sea, air and in cyberspace are “everywhere”.

Allies are getting worried. A NATO diplomat described Germany’s new stance as an “overall net positive”. “But since then there have been discrepancies… [they] There seems to be no strategic logic,” he said.

too much focus on big things like US orders for F-35 fighter jets and a new fleet of submarines. But a sizable portion of the funds need to be directed toward more nerdy gear.

In 2015, shortly after the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine by Russia, the Bundeswehr sent troops to a NATO joint training exercise with black armbands similar to mounted weapons. A recent report by the German parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces stated that soldiers returning from Lithuania complained that their counterparts from other countries “mocked” them about the state of the Bundeswehr’s radio equipment.

Last Sunday, the German mass-circulation newspaper Bild ran a front-page story about the military nearly running out of supplies of ammunition and even clothing.

According to analysts, the scale of the updates and the need for resupply required a bureaucratic overhaul. Germany’s military procurement body – the Koblenz-based Federal Office for Equipment, Technology and Support of the Bundeswehr – has the capacity to process military spending of €9bn annually, according to an analysis By Christian Mölling at the German Council on Foreign Relations.

“The defense and procurement system is so ruined and everyone knows it. It will take tremendous effort to make it work again,” he said.

Government officials say defense contracts are likely to cost huge budgets, so they are taking their time getting things right.

“These are not frivolous purchases where you are buying a small item and can get over it quickly. They have to be very balanced and discuss everything in great detail, said Christian Thiels, a spokesman for the defense ministry.

Several major contract proposals are likely to be presented in Parliament for approval by the end of the year, he added.

For Moling, conscience is an excuse that hides a bigger problem. He added that as of now, the Defense Ministry “must be working in triple shifts”. “The security environment has changed very dramatically but I don’t think the political urgency to act is present at all.”

Germany’s military strengths have yet to be embraced ZeitenwendeMoling suggested: “I get the impression that the Ministry of Defense really hasn’t fully breathed.”

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