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German army chief wants more money for equipment.

by Moana Syrypanha
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Berlin (2/3 – 62.50).           

Lt. Gen. Alfons Mais says the €100 billion committed by the government last year is insufficient. Meanwhile, an association representing soldiers says the Bundeswehr turnaround needs to speed up.

Germany would have to spend more money on its armed forces if it wants it fully equipped, army chief Lieutenant General Alfons Mais said on Sunday.

He told the German news agency, dpa, the €100 billion ($107 billion) to speed up the modernization of the armed forces promised by Chancellor Olaf Scholz after Russia invaded Ukraine was not enough. 

Mais, caused a stir last year when he criticized what he described as years of neglect in the operational readiness of the Bundeswehr,  “the army that I have the duty to lead, is more or less bare,” he said at the time. 

Mais said one year on he was trying to refrain from using the term “bare.”

“I see a great deal of pressure to move forward with the replenishments at the greatest possible speed,” he said.

But in addition to replacing equipment that has been given to Ukraine, a “material increase towards full equipment” was important, Mais stressed. “However, the special fund alone will not be enough to achieve this,” he warned. 

German military not changing fast enough, soldiers say

His sentiments were echoed in a separate interview the head of the independent Armed Forces Association (DBwV), Colonel Andre Wüstner, did with Bild am Sonntag.

He told the mass-market weekly paper there has been “no noticeable improvement” for soldiers since Scholz made the announcement last year.

“More speed is needed, whether in terms of material, personnel or infrastructure, a real turnaround that can be felt in the troops is needed during this parliamentary period … otherwise the ‘turning point’ is over,” Wüstner said.

Wüstner added the German military, or Bundeswehr, is carrying out its assigned missions, “but that is nothing compared to what we will have to contribute to NATO in the future.”

He warned that none of the military hardware supplied to Ukraine had been replaced and that means the operational readiness of parts of the military, such as it artillery, “continues to decline.”

Germany committed to ramping up military spending

Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year Scholz announced a “turning point” that would trigger weapons shipments to a nation at war and a massive increase in Germany’s military spending.

Bundeswehr officers have complained for many years that Germany has been neglecting its ability to defend its country and its NATO alliance partners.

Since announcing the €100 billion special fund for the Bundeswehr, about €30 billion has been committed to contracts for specific projects, Defense Ministry spokesman Arne Collatz said Wednesday.

Opposition leader Friedrich Merz of the Christian Democratic Union, whcih held power for 16 years before the Scholz government, complained during a parliamentary debate earlier this month that “large parts of the so-called ‘turning point’ that you described here on February 27 last year so far are happening largely on paper in Germany.”

Merz said it was unacceptable that “practically no orders” had yet been placed, particularly for ammunition.

Germany’s new defense minister, Boris Pistorius, has, however, vowed to speed up arms procurement and ramp up ammunition supplies.

Scholz, in a speech to the Munich Security Conference last weekend, also again promised to push Germany’s defense spending up to 2% of GDP “permanently.”

But his defense minister wants to go even further, “We will reach the 2% target, but we will also make every effort to go beyond that,” Pistorius told the same conference. lo/sms (AP, AFP, dpa)

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