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Von der Leyen: €12 billion for Bundeswehr

April 29, 2018

Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen wants billions of euros more for the German army than current budget plans foresee, a newspaper has reported. Her ministry has stressed the need to catch up and modernize equipment.

Ursula von der Leyen on a submarine
Image: picture alliance/dpa/A. Heimken

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has put in a request for an increase to the military budget of €12 billion ($14.6 billion) over the current term of parliament, an amount greatly in excess of present budget plans, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

The Bild am Sonntag said Finance Minister Olaf Scholz had so far foreseen an increase in defense spending of just €5.5 billion over the four years to 2021. The Defense Ministry had already criticized Scholz's plan on Friday as "inadequate in view of the huge accumulated needs and required modernization, particularly in the medium term."

According to the paper, von der Leyen will threaten to stop at least one international armaments project scheduled for 2019 if the defense budget is not given a considerable boost. The first to go would be a planned submarine deal with Norway, followed by the purchase of six C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, according to Bild.

Read more: German military draws up €450 million wish list 

Grave deficits 

Germany's defense budget in 2017 was around €37 billion and is expected to reach €39 billion in 2018. Although that represents the ninth-highest defense budget in the world, it still falls far short of the 2 percent of national GDP that NATO would like to see.

Over the past few years, there has been growing criticism that the Bundeswehr is underequipped.

List of equipment problems in the Bundeswehr
Much of the Bundeswehr's equipment is not operatational

In February, the newspaper Rheinische Post cited an internal Bundeswehr paper stating that the army lacked the necessary basic equipment for its deployment in a NATO rapid reaction force.

Germany is to take over the leadership of the multinational Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) at the start of next year. The 5,000-strong force, which is supposed to be capable of reaching combat readiness in 24 hours, was initiated by NATO in 2014 to counter the threat of Russian military aggression against Baltic member states.

Read more: Transgender troops — how open is Germany's army? 

tj/jm (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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