1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

German military revamp 'too sluggish,' says commissioner

March 14, 2023

Military commissioner Eva Högl called for a huge increase in funding for Germany's Bundeswehr. She said that the force needed more soldiers and that little progress had been made on the enlistment of women.

Puma tank in field in Altengrabow, Germany
Military commissioner Eva Högl has called for faster procurement of supplies for the armed forces alongside increased fundingImage: Florian Gaertner/photothek/picture alliance

Eva Högl, commissioner for Germany's armed forces, said on Wednesday that Berlin was working too slowly to build up the Bundeswehr.

Högl, whose role is to ensure parliamentary control of the armed forces, was making her report in light of the "tuning point" announced by Chancellor Olaf Scholz. In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year, Scholz said an additional €100 billion ($107 billion) would be made available to bring the Bundeswehr up to scratch. 

What the commissioner said

Högl said that while the military was being asked to do more, its stock of clothing, ammunition, and spare parts was running low.

"The procurement system is too sluggish," Högl said. "The first projects are on the way, but in 2022 our soldiers still haven't received a single cent from special funds," she said.

Högl argued that there had rarely been such a strong social consensus in Germany as in the case of the reaction to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which Chancellor Olaf Scholz has referred to as a "turning point."

Bundeswehr commissioner Eva Högl
The comissioner called for an additional fund of €300 billion for the armed forcesImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

The commissioner called for additional funding to be earmarked for the armed forces, beyond the €100 billion ($107 billion) already supplied as part of a one-off fund.

"The 100 billion euros won't be enough in order to compensate for all the deficiencies, military experts estimate that a total sum of 300 billion euros is necessary," she said.

Högl cast doubt over whether Germany's armed forces will be able to achieve its goal of reaching 203,000 soldiers by 2031.

The commissioner said that there was an 11% drop in enlistment in 2022 compared to the previous year, giving a total force of 183,965 soldiers.

Högl said that relatively few women enlist in the armed forces, with only a little over 13% of the Bundeswehr being made up of female personnel, even when including the medical corps.

Revamp of Germany’s armed forces stalls

Minister, lawmakers call for faster arms supplies

The commissioner's appeal joins a chorus of lawmakers and officials who have urged for faster supplies and funding for the military.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has called for "more funds" for the army.

"The defense budget has to increase continuously. We are in a security situation where we have to equip the Bundeswehr more than ever," he said.

Meanwhile, the chairwoman of the German parliament's defense committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, said that procurement needs to proceed "much, much faster."

The lawmaker called for Berlin to purchase arms and equipment directly from the market rather than putting everything out to tender.

The chairman of the German Army Association, Andre Wüstner, said in an interview for the radio station Bayern 2 that Berlin's defense policy had lost "more or less a year."

He said that tanks sent to Ukraine "need to be replaced quickly."

"If we're lucky, they'll be contracted shortly before Easter and then an order will be put out," he said.

Bundeswehr announces new chief

Högl's comments come a day after it was announced that Carsten Breuer would become the new chief of the Bundeswehr.

He succeeds General Eberhard Zorn, who took over the post in April 2018.

Breuer was previously the new Territorial Command of the Bundeswehr. He also served as the head of the Coronavirus Crisis Staff in the chancellor's office.

sdi/rc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

While you're here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.