Obstacles to Germany’s Military Development (Analysis)

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Obstacles to Germany's Military Development (Analysis)

Experts believe that Germany is facing difficulty in increasing its defense purchases, despite enjoying special financing of 100 billion euros to restore its military equipment to the normal level after decades of attrition since the end of the Cold War.

And just three days after Russia’s attack on Ukraine on February 24, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz delivered a speech to Parliament announcing “unprecedented” plans for the largest investment ever to develop the country’s military apparatus.

Schulz said: “We must invest significantly more in the security of our country to protect our freedom and democracy,” considering that “a great patriotic effort, and the goal is a German army that is efficient, advanced and modern, and protects us reliably.”

While everyone was waiting for German and international arms companies to compete for a large portion of the money allocated for the development of the military apparatus, nothing really happened.

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** Complex bureaucracy
Christian Molling, a Berlin-based member of the German Council on Foreign Relations, said the procurement process is complex, and decisions about specific weapons systems follow the criteria of strategic and industrial policy.

“Decisions about new weapons systems are often long and disorganised,” Molling told local radio station Deutschlandfunk.

The council member cited the Ministry of Defense’s plans to replace aging Tornado fighter jets as an example of these bureaucratic problems.

He added, “There has been a long process regarding the aircraft or the mix of aircraft that we want to use as a replacement for the Tornado. The process has been going on for years, as the decision was not taken for neither political nor military reasons.”

Molling said, “Overnight, the consultant decided he now wanted to buy a certain American aircraft, so this is a political decision, not a commercial one.”

For his part, the head of the Federation of the German Armed Forces, Andre Fausner, said in statements to the “Welt” television network, “The ministry is still in the analysis stage. We have dysfunctional structures and processes, huge problems related to youth recruitment, and we also have excessive organization.”

Recently, however, a military procurement process has taken off, and Germany signed a €10 billion deal to buy 35 American F-35 fighter jets to replace its aging Tornado fleet.

However, it will take until 2027 for the deal to be completed before the new aircraft are ready for use.

** Shortage of equipment
And to emphasize the existence of other problems related to the lack of military equipment and materials, Faustner said: “For the time being, we are still doing good things with regard to the eastern wing of NATO (NATO), and the tasks that we are currently carrying out in Mali, Iraq and others.”

He added, “But we send equipment to Ukraine and do not replace it. Even the 100 billion euros (which have been earmarked for the development of military capabilities) have not yet been signed with contracts, and this is the truth.”

The current annual report of the German parliament’s military commissioner, Eva Högel, lists the amount of actual available stocks of weapons and equipment.

According to the report, the operational readiness is at an average of 68 percent for the “Mardier” infantry fighting vehicle, the Tornado fighter and the “Sea King” multi-purpose helicopter.

Alphonse Mees, the German army inspector, stressed in an interview with the newspaper “Tagesspiegel” the shortage problems that the army suffers from.

“The military that I lead is somewhat empty-handed,” he said. “The options we can offer politicians to support NATO are very limited.”

The German army suffers from many problems regarding the maintenance of tanks and helicopters, the breakdown of guns, and the lack of thermal underwear to warm soldiers who train in the cold.

The latest news about the ammunition shortage was also revealed after questions arose about maintaining supplies of weapons being sent to Ukraine to support it in its war with Russia.

And increase the German Parliament pressure on the government to find a quick solution to the problem of shortage of ammunition in the Air Force.

** Past repercussions
According to estimates by the Ministry of Defense, ammunition worth 20 billion euros must be purchased to meet the requirements of NATO, as the military agreement of the alliance requires that the forces of its countries have ammunition stocks for a period of 30 days, which is not achieved by the German army.

“We need a timetable to eliminate this deficit,” the military commissioner in the German parliament, Eva Hoegel, told the newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung”.

She explained that “the shortage of ammunition in the Air Force is the result of years of austerity policies in the armed forces, and the fact that national defense and defense within NATO was not a top priority.”

In turn, German political analyst Ewald Koenig emphasized that the root causes of German military problems go back to the way they were dealt with over the past thirty years.

“We are currently paying the price for the way the German army was treated in the past. Since reunification (between the armies of East and West Germany), the army has only faced cost-cutting measures,” Koenig told Anadolu Agency.

He added, “A lot of military equipment is not working, there is a shortage of ammunition, and a lack of motivation among the soldiers.”

** Expanding the scope of work
The German defense industry has repeatedly expressed its willingness to increase its production of weapons.

Hans-Christian Atzbodian, director of the German Security and Defense Industries Association, confirms that “all companies said they are able to expand their scope of work, and are ready to hire new people and work for longer periods.”

High energy prices, stagnant supply chains, scarcity of materials and shortage of skilled workers are part of the problems plaguing Germany’s arms industry.

“There are obvious problems with the supply of raw materials and some primary products, especially in the electronics sector,” Atzbudian said.

In this regard, Atzbudian adds, “We are not different from other sectors such as cars and others, but we also compete with others in the labor market for skilled labor.”

** Absent strategic vision
Experts lament the fact that the German government lacks a clear, long-term strategic security vision.

Julia Berghofer, a member of the European Leadership Network, a London-based think tank, stresses that she has not found a clear concept and security policy strategy that provides answers to the new threats.

“It is not clear to me at the moment. There may be a strategy, but as someone who does not work in a ministry and not in the army, I wonder where this strategic vision is,” Berghofer told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

She added, “We have a great threat and a concrete scenario in Ukraine, and we can consider other scenarios of how to escalate or not escalate the situation with Russia.”

She stressed the importance of having a clear roadmap on how to solve pressing procurement policy problems.​​​​​​​

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