Why is Germany's military so weak?
The Hundred #15: June 13, 2022
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“What do you need a strong military for if “there are no military solutions”? By and large, the Germans have come to believe that the use of military force, and certainly inter-state war, is declining. Investing in armed forces that can credibly deter and defend has not been a priority. Rather, the military became mostly a symbol to demonstrate Germany’s commitment to European and transatlantic cooperation. The result is a shallow force – following the long influential motto of “Breite vor Tiefe” (breadth before depth). Germany could have a powerful military again. But it needs to start with the mindset.”
“Three main reasons. First, money: recent increases in the defence budget could not compensate for decades of under-investment. And the problem was not just the overall sum, but the unpredictable nature of the increases, which made long-term planning and strategic modernisation near impossible. Second, bureaucracy: Inefficient processes and pork barrel practices have slowed down German defence procurement for years. Third, a fundamental scepticism over the usefulness of military force. This often led to very restrictive rules of engagement when the Bundeswehr was deployed. Armed forces are only as strong or weak as their political leaders want them to be.”
“Defence as a means has lost its value in Germany exactly when the country regained its full sovereignty. Before that, defence had a clear but limited purpose: the Bundeswehr was there to militarily deter the Soviet Union and politically to contribute to the West with NATO at its core. This currency lost its impact immediately with the end of the Cold War and the fast reduction of the military footprint everywhere in Europe. Hence, foreign policy of the fully sovereign Germany started without the need to define a constructive role of defence in it.”
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