Germany aims for a ‘war-ready’ military – POLITICO

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  • Germany aims for a ‘war-ready’ military

    It’s the most momentous shift in German defense priorities since 2011.

    Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is forcing Germany to turn its military into a powerful and well-financed fighting force focused on defending the country and NATO allies, Germany’s chancellor said on Friday.

    “Today, nobody can seriously doubt what we in Germany have been avoiding for a long time, namely that we need a powerful Bundeswehr,” Olaf Scholz said on the second day of a political-military conference presenting the deep change in Berlin’s strategic thinking.

    “Our peace order is in danger,” he warned, also mentioning the war between Hamas and Israel and adding that Germany needs “a long-term, permanent change of course.”

    But to defend Germany and its allies, the German military, or Bundeswehr, “needs to be upgraded for this. Only a Bundeswehr that is so strong … can ultimately prevent the worst from happening,” said Defense Minister Boris Pistorius. “We need a Bundeswehr that can defend itself and wage war in order to defend our security and our freedom.”

    Just how to get there is laid out in a 34-page military and strategic doctrine.

    The change in thinking is apparent from the first paragraph of the text: “War has returned to Europe. Germany and its allies once again have to deal with a military threat. The international order is under attack in Europe and around the globe. We are living in a turning point.”

    The enemy is also clear: “The Russian Federation will remain the greatest threat to peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic area.” China also gets a nod for "increasingly aggressively claiming regional supremacy.”

    It’s the first new doctrine since 2011 — a time when Dmitri Medvedev was Russia’s president, Russia was seen as the source of cheap energy to fuel Germany’s economic miracle and Berlin’s defense spending had shrivelled.

    Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, killing thousands and wreaking destruction across the country, has ended any remaining illusion in Berlin that the Kremlin can be a partner and not a foe.

    “The first defense policy guidelines in over a decade are a response to this new reality,” Pistorius said.

    Since the end of the Cold War, Berlin has missed NATO’s current defense-spending target of 2 percent of GDP for over three decades.

    Germany will hit the goal this year — thanks in large part to the €100 billion special fund created in the wake of the Russian invasion. Scholz insisted that this isn’t a one-off. “We will guarantee this 2 percent in the long term, throughout the ’20s and ’30s.”

    It’s going to take more than just money to get the Bundeswehr back into fighting trim.

    The new doctrine says Germany will scale back foreign missions to focus on European and national defense to become “war-ready.”

    It also promises the “expansion of robust and secure defense industry capacities," as well as using civilians and not soldiers to do functions where military personnel are not needed, and to cut the red tape to speed up military procurement.

    “The central action that follows from the turning point is overcoming the organizational and bureaucratic sluggishness that has slowed down the troops for years,” Scholz said.

    Germany’s military has been hollowed out over recent years. At a military exercise last December to prepare a tank brigade for inclusion in NATO’s “high readiness” response force, all 18 of the modern German infantry fighting vehicles failed. There have also been problems with the readiness of other parts of the military.

    “We must be the backbone of deterrence and collective defense in Europe,” says the strategy. "Our population, but also our partners in Europe, North America and the world, expect us to face up to this responsibility. As a state and society, we have neglected the Bundeswehr for decades.”

    https://www.politico.eu/article/germany-war-military-bundeswehr-defense-nato
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