Defense minister ursula von der leyen (CDU) wants to end the lack of equipment in the german armed forces and spend billions on comprehensive modernization.
"After long periods of contraction, we are now back in a period of growth," the CDU politician said tuesday during a visit to the naval operations school in bremerhaven. To this end, the minister has commissioned a so-called capabilities profile, which describes the structure of a modern army up to the year 2031.
The plan has been submitted to the secret service of the federal parliament, where members of parliament can inspect it under certain conditions. The inspector general of the german armed forces, eberhard zorn, has signed it.
As shown in the published outline drawings, the project is planned in three intermediate stages to 2023, 2027 and 2031:
– fully equipping all soldiers with the same equipment, so that state-of-the-art equipment is also available in germany, not primarily for foreign deployments.
– "filling hollow structures": the borrowing of rough gear between associations is to be stopped by filling the gaps.
– digitalization: "every conflict of the future will also be carried out via cyberspace," says von der leyen. This also includes cyber defense.
– space capacities for satellite-based surveillance and networked air defense systems.
– by 2023, however, the capability profile will focus on germany's tasks as the framework nation of the nato spearhead force (VJTF), for which germany will have to provide a fully equipped brigade.
In the coming year, germany will take over the leadership of this very high readiness joint task force (VJTF). It is to be deployable within three days to any location where it is needed. The VJTF was established in 2014 in response to the russian annexation of the ukrainian peninsula of crimea, which also led to a reassessment of the security situation in germany.
"In the future, the army, air force and navy will have to grow strongly in order to meet the changing requirements of national and defense policy," explains henning otte (CDU), the defense policy spokesman for the union in the bundestag. "The planning assumes that by 2023 we will have to move toward an annual financial requirement of about 60 billion euros. Germany's defense budget currently stands at around 39 billion euros.
The paper was worked on for two years. It's not an immediate response to U.S. President donald trump's demand that germany spend two percent of gross domestic product on defense – even if the discussion thread about percentages is picked up.
In 2019, 1.3 percent of the gross domestic product has been earmarked for the defense budget; in 2024, the figure will be 1.5 percent, the minister said in bremerhaven. "We have a precisely defined financial framework, which the federal government has indicated to nato."
But green politician tobias lindner takes a critical view: "these plans go far beyond fully equipping already existing structures. It is incomprehensible why the defense minister and the grand coalition are presenting the bundestag with a fait accompli instead of discussing this in advance," he explains.
The left also opposes this: "in time for the upcoming budget negotiations in the fall, the defense ministry is putting pressure on the armed forces with a new policy paper to push through even more money for the armed forces today and in the future," criticized matthias hohn. He calls for spending only one percent of economic output and for "germany to become an international leader in relaxation and recreation".