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Germany's Military Draft Could End in 2004

Germany’s military draft could be abolished early next year as government officials are pushing for a swift decision in the matter. While German Defense Minister Peter Struck still opposes a purely professional military, experts say recent reform plans all but require ending the draft. “If we’re honest with ourselves, the draft is on its way out,” said Bernhard Gertz, the head of the German Federal Armed Forces Association, which represents members of the military. Members of the Green party, the government coalition’s junior partner, have long called for an end to the draft and welcomed signs of swaying their Social Democratic coalition partners. A slight majority of the latter still support keeping the draft, however. Conscripts currently have to serve nine months. Should the draft be abolished, the existing alternative option for young men, community service, would also no longer be compulsory. Community service currently lasts 10 months and provides health care and welfare sectors with low-wage labor.