Germany will end conscription in July 2011 and move to a leaner volunteer military service with 185,000 troops focused on missions abroad, Defence Minister Karl zu Guttenberg has said.

“The reforms will realign the German Army to better reflect the nation’s post-Cold-War needs and helping it meet 21st-century needs,” he said.

The finalised details of the cuts and changes to the chain of command will be provided in the coming weeks and parliament is expected to pass the measures in December.

According to the new policy, young German men will serve as volunteers for a period of 12 to 23 months to be deployed abroad after six months of service, according to The Associated Press.

Germany currently has 4,840 troops in Afghanistan and 1,470 in Kosovo with smaller contingents deployed in Bosnia, Horn of Africa and as part of UNIFIL off the coast of Lebanon and elsewhere.