EU Australia Online - News & information from the capital of Europe direct to Australian businesses

German Conscription Finishing-up

  • January 4th, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

bundeswehr-acusorg.jpgAn intake of 12150 recruits into the German Army this week (3.1.11) is expected to be the last, enacting a set of new national policies and closing an eventful chapter in the country’s history.

CHANGE OF PLAN

The German government outlined plans last August to restructure the Bundeswehr as a smaller, professional force, while also working towards ending its large commitment to the allied operation in Afghanistan, in 2014.

See EUAustralia Online: “German army cutting back”, 23.8.10; “NATO at Lisbon”, 20.11.10; “Obama to NAto …”, 4.4.09.

The move joined together a set of austerity measures within government, and the policy decision on Afghanistan, where public opinion in Germany was highly reluctant towards the war.

Germany has had 45 service personnel killed in Afghanistan, 211 wounded. (Australia has lost 21 with 160 wounded; United States troops have suffered the majority of the 2208 fatalities – over 1300- in the International Security Assistance Force).

Germany before Afghanistan had already moved away from the long-standing policy of the former Bonn government, of confining military engagements to German territory, or neighbouring states; with commitments to European Union or NATO operations in such areas as former Yugoslavia.

Trends in Western countries have been against the dilution of army units with troops on national service, headed by the American move to professionalism after the Vietnam war.

The 1982 Falklands conflict, British career forces versus conscripts from Argentina, attracted intense intelligence interest, at the height of the debate on the issue.

Germany still plans to maintain a professional standing army of 165000 on the 21st Century model of intensive training and expensive equipment – and is expected to take in as many as 7500 national service volunteers.

The professional force is currently around 195000.

Under the new plan they can go back to the call-up in a national emergency.

OTHER TIMES

berlin-demo-2000s-anti-iraq.jpgFor four decades young men were drafted into the army on both sides of the Cold War divide, by the German Democratic Republic in the Warsaw Pact alliance, or the Federal Republic in NATO — and lined up to face one another for a possible apocalyptic battle.

(Their experiences of hard training and discipline in the ranks paled against the notorious bullying and bastardisation practiced against young recruits in the Soviet army, and latterly under the Russian Federation).

On the Western side in Germany it was possible for objectors to defer or get exemption from service if they moved to West Berlin.

It was among an array of incentives provided to citizens, to live in that enclave of the democratic system; and it had a paradoxical consequence in beefing up numbers of the large radical-left political movement in West Berlin.

Reference

Wikipedia, SF, “Coalition casualties in Afghanistan”, 28.12.10.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coalition_casualties_in_Afghanistan, (4.1.11).

Pictures

Bundeswehr troops – acus.org; demonstration against Iraq war – socsci.uci.edu

Leave a Reply