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Defense Commissioner criticizes pace of change in German armed forces

origin 1Eva Hoegl (L), Defense Commissioner of the German Bundestag, presents her annual report for 2022 to Baerbel Bas, President of the Bundestag, in the Reichstag building. Wolfgang Kumm/dpa

German parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces, Eva Högl, criticized the Bundeswehr’s slowness towards full operational readiness.

“Of course, the first projects are coming. But by 2022, our soldiers will not have received a single cent from the special fund. The supply system is too slow,” he wrote in his annual report presented in Berlin on Tuesday.

He noted that while “troop payrolls have become fuller, clothing stores, ammunition depots and spare parts depots have not.”

Yet, he wrote, rarely has there been such a large social consensus as after Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s proclamation of “a turning point” in response to Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine.

Referring to expert opinions, he calls for a funding framework that goes well beyond the 100 billion euros ($107 billion) already allocated from Germany’s special emergency fund. “The €100 billion alone will not be enough to make up for all the shortfalls; according to military experts, this would require a total of €300 billion,” its report said.

Högl was concerned about the personnel levels of the Bundeswehr and doubted that the target number of 203,000 soldiers could be reached by 2031. At the end of last year, the number of personnel was 183,051, a slight decrease from 2021 (183,695 soldiers). . The number of applicants decreased by 11%.

Furthermore, the recruitment potential of women is not being fully exploited, she said. Högl noted that “even including the medical service, the proportion of female soldiers is only 13.21%”.

According to Article 45b of the German Basic Law, the defense commissioner assists the Bundestag in parliamentary control of the armed forces. But she is also considered a supporter of the soldiers, who can turn to her at any time.

On Tuesday, the president of the German Armed Forces Association (DBwV), André Wüstner, called for lessons to be learned from Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Wüstner told radio station WDR 5 on Tuesday that German politicians have so far done too little to combat the “disastrous state” of Germany’s armed forces, the Bundeswehr.

He spoke of a wide range of shortcomings, including in weapon systems and ammunition supplies.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius recently said that Germany is currently not defensible and that the country “cannot go on like this”.

Wüstner separately told radio station Bayern 2 that the government was still partly acting “in the manner of the time before the war in Ukraine”.

He said he was happy and looks forward with confidence because with Pistorius, Germany now has a defense minister “who is impatient, who faces things and also explains clearly in the Council of Ministers why not only does it need more money, but also why it has need different laws,” Wüstner told WDR 5.

The DBwV represents the interests of all active and former soldiers and employees of the Bundeswehr, their family members and surviving dependents. It has around 200,000 members.

origin 1Eva Hoegl, German Bundestag Armed Forces Commissioner, presents her annual report for 2022 at a press conference. Wolfgang Kumm/dpa