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Germany to make military 'the backbone' of Europe's defense

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said it was time for Germany to be "a grown up country" in terms of security policy. Pistorius said Russia's war against Ukraine had altered the role of Germany and the Bundeswehr.

Germany to make military 'the backbone' of Europe's defense
Germany to make military 'the backbone' of Europe's defense

Germany plans to accelerate reforms of its military bureaucracy as part of an ongoing overhaul of the country's military, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius outlined in a document presented on Thursday in Berlin.

The revamp of the military seeks to make the force more capable of defending Germany and its allies.

"We must be the backbone of deterrence and collective defense in Europe. Our own population, as well as our partners in Europe, North America and the world, expect us to face up to this responsibility," the new defense guidelines said.

The Bundeswehr, as Germany's army is known, "must be ready for war in all areas. This means that its personnel and equipment must be geared towards fulfilling its demanding missions," the document added.

It went on to say that a well-equipped military capable of victory in high-intensity combat at any time "is the only way to ensure credible deterrence and peace."

The last time the German government presented a similar set of defense policy guidelines was in 2011.

Russia as a major threat

The 19-page document reflects the major defense policy shift, known as "Zeitenwende," announced by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

"With the Zeitenwende, Germany becomes a grown up country in terms of security policy," Pistorius said.

In an editorial for the Tagesspiegel newspaper ahead of the guidelines' release, Pistorius said Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine meant the continent faced a renewed military threat, which fundamentally altered the role of Germany and the Bundeswehr.

As such, the document officially highlighted Russia as the main long-term threat to peace and security facing Germany and its European allies.

Plans to speed up procurement

Last year, Germany set up a €100 billion ($106 billion) special fund to purchase modern weapons and the country has also pledged to reach NATO's target of spending at least 2% of the national GDP on defense starting in 2024.

The new defense policy document calls on decision-makers in the German government and the military to take action to speeding up purchases of much-needed equipment and construction programs.

Germany's army and government have been criticized in the past for the slow pace of procurement. The report also urges officials to use existing exceptions to award contracts faster, as well as push for changes to the law if necessary.

Pistorius admitted that reforming the Bundeswehr would take time, noting that the organization would need to overcome "decades of neglect."

Source: Dw

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