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The German Ministry of Defense plans a major increase in army reserves

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The German Defense Ministry is planning a significantly strengthened Bundeswehr, or army reserve, that could accommodate up to 60,000 men and women, a top official for the army’s reserve affairs told dpa in Berlin.

“I am convinced that we must fully adapt the reserve to current security policy challenges so that it can properly support the Bundeswehr in carrying out the task of national and alliance (NATO) defense,” said Lt. General Andreas Hoppe, Deputy Inspector General and Commissioner for Defense. reservist matters, said.

His comments come days before the defense minister Boris Pistorius plans to present its proposal for a model of military conscription on Wednesday. The design was shelved in 2011 and its reintroduction is controversial in Germany.

“We need military service as a basis for rapid growth and the resilience of our Bundeswehr in case of defense,” Pistorius said on Friday at an event organized by the trade association of family businesses in Berlin. The reserve should also be increased significantly, he said.

The war in Ukraine has prompted Germany to reconsider its defense needs

“If you look at Ukraine, we are simply not able to sustain and grow as we are now. That is why we need a reserve capable of completely replacing the armed forces,” Hoppe said.

The aim is to equip and train reserve companies or reserve battalions in such a way that they can be seamlessly integrated into the operational management of a brigade.

Fourteen days of training per year are needed to maintain skills, Hoppe said. He plans to do more to gain approval from companies, which must give workers time off for backup training.

“If people have a high level of training when they leave the Bundeswehr and are not given any opportunity to practice basic commands for six years, then the value they bring with them will obviously be limited over time,” he said.

Specialists are needed, but ‘just masses’, for example for domestic security tasks such as securing infrastructure, transport routes and military facilities in Germany.

For some time now, volunteers who were not previously in the Bundeswehr have also been trained for this purpose.

“It doesn’t work without a reserve. We see that in Ukraine,” said Hoppe. Everyone needs to realize this, he said.

After the Cold War, a lot of expertise was lost

“All this existed during the Cold War, but it was neglected for thirty years and simply no longer exists. Very few people are still aware of it. We are currently using it to map out the possibilities,” Hoppe added. .

The Army expects to retire approximately 10,000 casual or professional service members each year who could be recruited for this basic call-up. There are currently approximately 44,000 men and women on basic call.

The ministry is also investigating how many people could possibly be called up in the event of a defense situation.

This also applies to civilians who previously served in the Bundeswehr but were not recalled to duty. Although this group is substantial, it has declined since mandatory military service was suspended in 2011.

“There are different numbers. We assume that there are approximately 800,000 people who can still be called up for military service. In principle, this includes all those who have ever served in the Bundeswehr, have retired and are within the age limits, including the last few years of conscripts,” Hoppe said.

Aging population is a problem for the Bundeswehr

“But if you look at the age problem, you realize that there are fewer and fewer every year… This means that we have to take countermeasures and also find and recruit additional personnel for the reserve. And that’s what we do,” Hoppe said.

“Keyword homeland defense regiments,” he said. “They consist primarily of noncommissioned officers who receive and receive appropriate training.”

However, NATO’s revised defense plans require the Bundeswehr, which shrank to 181,500 soldiers last year despite a so-called personnel offensive, to grow significantly.

NATO’s plans mean the personnel target is likely to increase from 203,000 soldiers to “more than 272,000” men and women in the armed forces, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Friday. The reserve can only be one part of this.

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