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Germany

German Conscripts to Be Sent on Missions Abroad

In a televised interview on German public television ZDF on Sunday, Defense Minister Peter Struck floated the idea of sending ordinary conscripts into NATO-led out-of-area missions as part of a large-scale restructuring of the armed forces. Struck maintained that the participation of conscripts -- whose mandatory service consists of nine months of military training -- is indispensable if the Bundeswehr hopes to continue sending troops abroad for peacekeeping missions. On Monday the Social Democrat’s proposal was sharply criticized by members of the government’s junior coalition partner the Greens, who said it was "irresponsible to send youths abroad without sufficient training." The opposition Christian Democrats also attacked the suggestion and questioned the minister’s "seriousness" in the matter. But the head of the German Association of Soldiers, Bernhard Gertz endorsed Struck saying there was no reason why conscripts should be barred from out-of-area missions as long as they were willing to go. Currently only longer serving conscripts are included in out-of-area peacekeeping missions such as on the Horn of Africa.