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Germany

German Defense Minister Wants to Downsize Army

German Defense Minister Peter Struck wants to streamline the armed forces and reduce the number of soldiers from a current 280,000 to 250,000 by 2010. Speaking in Berlin on Thursday, Struck emphasized that changing demands meant that further military bases as well as the number of conscripts had to be significantly cut back. The army, he said, would now "only get young men, it really needed." Struck however said he wanted to retain the mandatory nine-month military service in Germany. The minister said "the armed forces planning no longer corresponds to military challenges" and added that personnel would have to be trimmed in order to "have negotiating room to fulfill new challenges." The future motto for the army, Struck said, should be "quality instead of quantity." The defense minister also warned that the closing of military bases would follow military and economic dictates and would not consider the preservation of jobs in regions with poor infrastructure.