Magazine article National Defense

Germany Launches Wide-Ranging Defense Reform; Cutbacks in Personnel Are Going to Be Redirected to Investments in Technology

Magazine article National Defense

Germany Launches Wide-Ranging Defense Reform; Cutbacks in Personnel Are Going to Be Redirected to Investments in Technology

Article excerpt

The German government has until the end of this month to lay down the specifics for its 2005 defense plan, which will jumpstart a new effort to match the country's increased military commitments.

Defense officials and program managers will have to come up with a new structure and organization, as well as an equipment procurement plan, according to Germany's Defense Minister Peter Struck. While the deadline for a transformed German military" is set for 2010, Struck said he expects visible changes by 2007.

Struck wants to trim the German military from 280,000 to 250,000 service members, as part of his concept of "class instead of mass." By reducing personnel, Struck said he expects savings of several million euros, which will be redirected into modernization efforts. The goal is to increase investment spending to 30 percent of the budget, compared to 25 percent today.

"We have detected some deficiencies in the budget with the high number of operations abroad which cost a lot of money," said Uwe Fialkowski, counselor for defense cooperation at the German Embassy, in Washington D.C.

"The reorganization of the Bundeswehr is being developed with the intention of achieving a balance between mission tasks, equipment and resources," he said.

According to Rear Adm. Hubertus von Puttkamer, the German defense attache in Washington, the Bundeswehr has already been working with new policy guidelines issued in May 2003. In addition to improvements in materiel and equipment, the ministry will address personnel and management reform.

The Bundeswehr 2003 budget is roughly 24 billion euros. Almost 75 percent of that, or 18.2 billion, go to operations and maintenance.

Out of the roughly 6 billion euros slated for investments, 4 billion go to military procurement. Less than one billion, or roughly 4 percent, goes into research, development and testing, according to Fialkowski.

The German defense budget, he said, currently is characterized by high operating expenditures and personnel costs, insufficient investment rate, considerable over-planning and resources committed to contracts.

"We will have to have an approach from an overall service [perspective], and we will have to coordinate our efforts on a multi-national level," he said. "That can be done in the way of armaments cooperation, task-sharing and functional-work sharing."

Fialkowski described the core capabilities of the Bundeswehr as support and sustainability; command and control; intelligence collection and reconnaissance; mobility and effective engagement; survivability and force protection.

Army

The German Army will take the biggest cut in personnel. It already is slimming down from a structure of 230,000 personnel to 132,000, but these numbers will go down further by 2010, depending on how the new reduction of 30,000 soldiers will be distributed across all the services, Col. Carsten John Jacobson, the German military defense attache, told National Defense. The heavy forces will be reduced by 45 percent. The number of Leopard main battle tanks will go down from the current 2,500 to 852.

The Army has introduced three new elements--a special operations division, an air mobile operations division and Army Forces Command. "What we are heading for is an increase in professionalism, especially in view of the operational commitments that we have," said Jacobson. The German Army has 8,000 troops supporting NATO in Kosovo, Bosnia and Afghanistan. Germany also has troops committed in Macedonia, the Straights of Gibraltar and the Horn of Africa.

The German Army is looking to purchase 80 Tiger attack helicopters. The first ones could join the airlift operations division by 2004.

The ground forces will have a total of 605 artillery systems--M109 howitzers, the Multiple Launch Rocket System and the PZH (Panzerhaubitze) 2000 155mm self-propelled howitzer. …

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