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Inefficient and cumbersome

July 3, 2011

The German military is more expensive and less efficient than its major NATO allies such as the United Kingdom and France, says the European Defense Agency.

German army soldiers
The German army recently became a volunteer forceImage: picture alliance/dpa

The German armed forces are less efficient and not as deployment ready compared to other European militaries, according to the European Defense Agency (EDA) and a report by the economics magazine Wirtschaftswoche.

Germany is currently capable of sending 7,000 soldiers abroad at one time. In contrast, the United Kingdom can deploy 22,000 troops simultaneously while France can contribute 30,000 soldiers to international military actions.

The German armed forces also operate less efficiently when they are in deployment. According to the EDA, one German soldier serving abroad demands the support 35 soldiers and 15 civilian employees at home. In the United Kingdom, that number is nine and four while in France it lies at eight and two.

Although Germany spends relatively little on its military compared to the UK and France, it costs around 5 million euros ($7 million) to support a single German soldier deployed abroad, three times as high as the European Union average.

Work in progress

Germany army soldiers in Afghanistan
The German military may begin a phased withdrawal from Afghanistan soonImage: picture alliance/dpa

Germany officially phased out military conscription on Friday, July 1, and is in the process of shifting the focus of its armed forces from territorial defense to international expeditionary missions.

The reforms envision a military capable of deploying 10,000 soldiers abroad simultaneously while reducing the overall number of service members from 220,000 to 185,00.

"The German military still has not transformed its core competencies from a standing tank army into a highly mobile deployment force," said Christoph Schnurr, a defense policy expert for the liberal Free Democrats.

Afghanistan withdrawal

Meanwhile, Germany could reduce its troop presence in northern Afghanistan by 500 soldiers parallel to the withdrawal schedule of US armed forces announced by US President Barack Obama at the end of June.

This number is a point of orientation for the start of a possible withdrawal, according to Volker Wieker, General Inspector of the German armed forces.

A reduction of 500 soldiers would return Germany's Afghanistan contingent to 2010 levels. Germany currently has approximately 5,000 soldiers stationed in the Central Asian nation as a component of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Wieker, who spoke to the German public radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, also expressed reservations about the US withdrawal tempo. Washington plans to bring 33,000 soldiers home by the summer of 2012.

"One would have perhaps expected a little longer of a time window," Wieker said.

Author: Spencer Kimball (AFP, Reuters, dpa)
Editor: Toma Tasovac