How is Germany planning to rebuild its military?
Many questions have abounded in Germany on how the German army's €100 billion budget will be used to modernize it, and what state it is currently in.
In order to modernize its army, Germany has a series of tasks ahead of it, as it has to contend with outdated equipment, a dismal bureaucracy, and demotivated soldiers.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz recently pledged a special budget of 100 billion euros for the military, raising concerns of how this money will be spent, and whether or not other important sectors will be deprived as a result.
Germany's arms industry has since been buzzing about the government's upcoming spending spree.
An AFP report examined the state of the German army, the Bundeswehr, and examines how Germany, as Europe's biggest economy, is looking to rearm itself amid the war in Ukraine.
The chief of Germany's land army, Alfons Mais, shocked many when he declared that the Bundeswehr was "more or less bare", and that the options Germany can offer NATO are "extremely limited". An even stronger statement was given by Defense commissioner Eva Hoegl, who said the army was in an "alarming" state in her latest annual report on the Bundeswehr.
Marcus Faber, a defense specialist, and MP said that the armed forces would not even be capable right now of fulfilling its basic function of defending Germany in case of an attack.
The army got this way more than 60 years after its founding because of austerity measures that wore it down to the point where 30% of naval ships are considered "fully operational", 40 of 350 Puma combat vehicles are considered "fit for war", and many of the country's aircraft are unfit to fly. Moreover, even though the army once had 500,000 troops in 1990, it only has 180,000 soldiers today and is thousands short of the numbers needed to repel a presumed invasion.
Where the money will be going
The defense commissioner believes that in order to bring about real change, "planning and procurement structures must be modernized" instead of just spending money on new gear.
The army's decentralized structure is one point in need of reform, as it left local authorities in control of building construction and maintenance. Things have gotten so bad that a simple project can take years. In one case a refurbishment took 23 years. There are examples of barracks lacking sanitary facilities, electrical outlets, hot water, or even drinking water, which led to frustration among soldiers and a loss of confidence in the political process.
As far as military equipment go, the Bundeswehr has been waiting for years for new rifles to replace its aging G-36 models. Several manufacturers have developed new weapons, but the process has stalled.
What will Germany buy?
Germany will replace its aging Tornado fighter jets with a new fleet of F-35 stealth fighters and Eurofighters. It is also planning on buying armed drones from "Israel" and looking to acquire an anti-missile shield system (the Israeli Arrow 3 system), which will cost around $2.2 billion and could be operational in 2025.
Moreover, a new European battle tank the MGCS (Main Ground Combat System) is also being taken into consideration, but not before 2035, and Germany's transport helicopters will need replacing, probably with American Chinooks.
According to Faber, it is estimated that it would take up to eight years to bring the Bundeswehr's equipment up to modern standards, and there is not even a consensus in Germany on the matter.
Some 600 public figures including politicians, religious figures, and artists signed an online appeal last week slamming what they called an "arms race", and warned that the spending will lead to cuts in other sectors.