German military development takes “half a century”.
According to the annual report on the state of the Bundeswehr, the modernization of the German armed forces is progressing at such a slow pace that, if it continues at its current rate, it will take 50 years.
Éva Högl, the parliamentary commissioner of the armed forces, emphasized that the country’s slow defense procurement is hindering the much-needed modernization of the Bundeswehr. In a 170-page report to parliament on Tuesday, he welcomed Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s announcement last year of a 100 billion euro special fund for military renovations and praised decisions to buy F-35 fighter jets, transport helicopters and armed drones.
However, Högl said that even if some new equipment was on the way, in 2022 “not a cent came from the special fund”.
He added: “If we were to continue at the current pace and with the existing framework conditions, it would take about half a century to completely renew the current infrastructure of the Bundeswehr.”
The German defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said last month that 30 billion euros had been “contractually committed,” adding: “And as soon as the goods arrive. . . we can pay for that.”
According to Högl, the war in Ukraine exacerbated the already deep problems with equipping the armed forces because Berlin’s “reasonable and correct” decision to send a range of weapons to Kiev created gaps that proved difficult to fill. He asked officials to ensure the equipment was “swiftly replaced in order not to permanently damage the operational readiness of the Bundeswehr”.
He repeated an earlier call to triple the special fund to 300 billion euros, arguing that the current amount would not be enough to cover the serious shortfalls of the German armed forces.
He added that billions more would be needed to replace depleted ammunition stocks not covered by the 100 billion euro fund, at a time when Europe is trying to keep up with Ukraine’s ferocious artillery fire.
Högl’s report highlights the challenges facing Germany’s new defense minister, Boris Pistorius, who was appointed in January after his jokey predecessor Christine Lambrecht resigned.
Although Pistorius has been praised even by skeptics of the Scholz government and its response to the war in Ukraine, analysts warn that he faces a huge task in overhauling the ministry and speeding up the public procurement system.
Pistorius himself argued for an extra €10 billion a year in the 2024 budget negotiations to raise annual defense spending to €60 billion. However, the Social Democratic Defense Minister has so far had difficulty in persuading the Ministry of Finance to approve the upload.
Even that number would fall short of the amount Germany needed to meet its NATO commitment to spend 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense. Berlin spent 1.44 percent of GDP on defense last year, according to NATO’s preliminary data for 2022.