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German government urged to address ammunition shortage

December 4, 2022

The Ukraine war has eaten up the Bundewehr's munitions stockpile, sparking concern among politicians and the military. Meanwhile, inflation is eating away at the €100 billion in extra military spending pledged by Berlin.

The ammunition is displayed on a weapon held by a German soldier
The German government this year pledged €100 billion to upgrade Bundeswehr equipmentImage: Ralf Hirschberger/dpa/picture-alliance

Germany's parliamentary military commissioner on Sunday called for an urgent timetable to resolve an ammunition shortage facing the country's military, the Bundeswehr.

Berlin has sent large amounts of ammunition to support Ukraine against Russia's aggression but has failed to replenish supplies despite Berlin pledging an extra €100 billion ($105 billion) for the armed forces.

What did the military commissioner say?

Eva Högl, who is the commissioner for the armed forces in the lower house of parliament, called on the government to aim for ammunition procurement in the double-digit billion range over the next few years.

"We now need a roadmap, a coordinated approach with binding agreements with the defense industry on when which ammunition can be produced, where and what timeframe," Högl, a politician for the center-left Social Democrats, told DPA news agency.

She also called for munitions procurement to be coordinated at the European level and noted how munitions manufacturers needed clarity on long-term funding for ammunition orders and in return needed to be clear about delivery schedules.

“We cannot tell them [the defense industry] that there is a funding commitment for six months, but we do not yet know whether the Bundestag will repeat it next year. The industry needs the ability to plan. And that's why I think a lot about concluding contracts over several years,” she said.

5.56 mm caliber cartridges pass through final inspection at a factory in western Germany on February 20, 2014
Germany's munitions shortage was apparent even before the Ukraine warImage: Thomas Frey/dpa/picture alliance

Referring to Germany's military deliveries to Ukraine, Högl said “a lot has been given away but nothing has been replaced yet,” which she said was a concern among German military officials and soldiers despite broad support for the military aid to Kyiv.

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht is facing growing criticism over the shortage and the shortage of artillery shells and rockets, which has been apparent for years.

According to local media reports, few procurements have taken place this year despite the nine-month-long war in Ukraine, which the Defense Ministry has denied.

"That we are inactive in the procurement of ammunition" is "of course sheer nonsense," a spokesman for Lambrecht said Friday.

Manufacturers frustrated at slow orders

In October, Reuters cited unnamed sources in the defense industry who expressed disappointment at what they said was the government's sluggishness in replenishing the Bundeswehr's inventories, caused by slow procedures and a lack of decisions at the top level.

"There is a war raging in Ukraine but procedures here are still running in peace-time mode, while inflation is eating up the money," one defense manager said.

Ministries trade blame

A row blew up this week between the finance and defense ministries on spending and transparency over munitions purchases, DPA news agency reported.

The Finance Ministry complained that their Defense Ministry colleagues did not prioritize ammunition procurement during negotiations for the €100 billion spending boost for the armed forces.

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the huge budget extension to upgrade the country's underequipped military. 

German army set for command shake-up

mm/wmr (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

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