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Deutschland Gebirgsjägerbataillon der Bundeswehr
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Hoppe

No personnel cap for Bundeswehr?

Timothy Jones
May 7, 2016

Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen wants to increase the German army's flexibility by boosting its numbers, a media report says. It says the new concept is based on the principle of a "breathing personnel structure."


According to Saturday's report by German news outlet RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland, von der Leyen wants to abolish the Bundeswehr's current upper personnel limit of 170,000 short-service and professional soldiers plus 15,000 volunteers.

The report said she is planning to increase the number of positions in the German army by 7,000 on the principle of a "breathing personnel structure" that would allow more flexibility in the face of new threats and deployments.

Her new concept also envisages an increase in the number of professional soldiers in comparison with those who serve with the Bundeswehr on a short-term basis, according to the report.

Verteidigungsministerin Von der Leyen auf dem Stützpunkt im Ägäischen Meer
Von der Leyen has been defense minister since the end of 2013Image: Getty Images/AFP/J. MacDougall

Von der Leyen also reportedly wants to allow local Bundeswehr commanders more say in who is employed in the belief that they are better placed to judge whether someone is qualified than the central personnel department. In another bid to boost flexibility, applicants will also be required to fulfill less stringent physical qualifications if they are seeking a job as an IT expert than if they want to be a soldier eligible for active combat duty.

The report said von der Leyen planned to make her new concept public in the coming week.

'More money needed'

The defense expert for the conservative bloc of the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union, Henning Otte, told the RedaktionsNetzwerk that the new concept was "the right answer for being able to react flexibly to changed security situations."

Rainer Arnold, the defense spokesman for the Social Democrats, also welcomed the abolition of an upper limit for personnel numbers, but warned that the proposal could function only if the defense minister obtained additional money for Bundeswehr employees and equipment.

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