The German military’s combat readiness was criticized by a scathing report by their parliament’s military commissioner as debates rage over the country’s increasing involvement in overseas military missions.
Germany’s military has deteriorated in recent years amid budget cuts and poor management, according to a report published on Tuesday by Parliamentary Armed Forces Commissioner Hans-Peter Bartels.
The call on politicians to double-down on reforms and increase funding came in the same week a Defense Ministry paper revealed German soldiers did not have enough protective vests, winter clothing or tents to adequately take part in a major NATO mission.
What’s wrong with the Bundeswehr?
Bartels pointed to “big gaps” in personnel and equipment. At the end of 2017, no submarines and none of the air force’s 14 large transport planes were available for deployment due to repairs.
Other equipment, including fighter jets, tanks and ships, was outdated and in some cases not fully operational because of bad planning or a lack of spare parts. Some air force pilots were unable to train because too many aircraft were being repaired.
Soldiers have experienced increasing levels of stress and there was a lack adequate leadership due to some 21,000 vacant officer posts.
The report said the government needed to pursue reforms “with greater urgency” and increase defense spending.
A lack of funding and inefficient management structures and planning were behind the problems. Germany has cut defense spending since the end of the Cold War. In 2017, it spent about 1.2 percent of its economic production in 2017 on the armed forces, which is below the 2 percent target recommended by the NATO alliance.
Germany has come under increasing criticism by some, including U.S. President Donald Trump for not spending 2 percent of their GNP on defense which Trump and others say, degrades the unity of NATO.
Meanwhile, the debate in the German government continues as some feel they should meet the NATO goal of 2 percent defense spending while others say the number is only a “target range” of spending.
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