The German Bundestag has released a new report stating, once again, that the German military is suffering from a lack of equipment and recruits.
The annual study, presented to the government on Tuesday, found a number of issues surrounding the German military in 2018, making reference to claims that soldiers had relied on civilian helicopters to provide transport in Afghanistan, and borrowed important equipment such as body armour.
Author of the report and Bundestag military commissioner Hans-Peter Bartels said at a press conference in Berlin on Tuesday: “I’d like to report: It’s spring, everything will be new. But the truth is: It’s still winter.”
No improvement on 2017
One of the key issues in the report for 2017 – the lack of heavy equipment, such as tanks, aircraft and submarines – continued to plague the Bundeswehr in 2018.
In last year’s report, Bartels noted that parts of Germany’s navy, army and air force were overloaded, while its helicopter weapons systems lacked readiness, due to a shortage of spare parts.
The report also found that none of Germany’s six submarines were combat-ready and the navy only had nine of a possible 15 frigates available, due to frequent maintenance operations of older vessels.
“We haven’t seen noticeable improvements on the equipment front” since 2013, Bartels said.
Likewise, this year’s report stated that less than half of Germany’s tanks, ships and aircraft had been available for collaborative training purposes, due to a lack of parts.
Bartels said in the new report (translated by defense-aerospace): “Spare parts are still missing; technical service in the industry suffer delayed training programme. Absolutely need to accelerate procurement.”
The report noted that a lack of military spending may not be the issue. Government spending on defence is set to increase from €38.5bn to €43.2bn in 2019.
“The Bundeswehr has become a bureaucratic monster. Too much work is done twice,” Bartels said.
Another concern surrounded recruitment of both generic and specialist personnel.
This year, the government has promised a rise in active defence personnel from 181,000 currently, to 198,500 by 2025, despite the number of new recruits to the German military falling by 3,000 from 2017 to 2018.
Last year’s report also found that there were 21,000 officer and junior officer positions left vacant in 2017. Meanwhile, a new problem for 2018 was finding specialised personnel to fill skilled labour positions such as military staff in IT departments, medical staff, and management and logistics employees.