German military to recruit thousands of troops after 25 years of cuts

Thousands of new soldiers are set to join the ranks of the Bundeswehr in the coming years, said German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen Tuesday as she announced a recruitment plan that would put to an end 25 years of military cuts and downsizing.

Von der Leyen said that the armed forces must increase by 14,300 soldiers and 4,400 civilian posts in the next seven years, but only announced plans for an initial 7,000 new recruits.

Another 5,000 positions are to be filled through internal restructuring, she said.

But even with the new posts, the Defence Ministry still has well more than 2,000 military positions to create before it meets its target.

"It is demanded of the Bundeswehr in all areas to modernize. For us, that means a break from the trend," von der Leyen said. "We have to get away from the process of permanently downsizing."

An alliance representing German soldiers and military veterans welcomed what it called a "180-degree" policy reversal by the defence minister.

"This change in trend is not just words; she is actually presenting a 180-degree turn in personnel policy," said Andre Wuestner, head of the Bundeswehr Association.

Wuestner criticized the policies of von der Leyen's predecessors, who oversaw cuts to army funding and personnel in the past decades.

Since the reunification of Germany in 1990, the Bundeswehr has shrunk from 585,000 soldiers to 177,000.

Alongside 16 foreign deployments, the Germany is also stepping up its military presence on NATO's eastern borders in the face of an increasingly assertive Russia.

German troops have also been deployed within the country to support local authorities overwhelmed by the recent influx of refugees and migrants.

The new plans abandon a previous limit on troop numbers set at 185,000.

Von der Leyen has also proposed a boost in military funding from 34.3 billion euros (39 billion dollars) to 39.2 billion euros by 2020, pending parliamentary approval.

Last update: Tue, 10/05/2016 - 19:08

More from Europe

British police give all clear after "non-viable" device found

Counter-terrorism police in south-western England gave the all-clear Saturday after cordoning off a property for...

Poll: 'no' vote at 54 per cent in Italian constitutional referendum

Support for a 'no' vote on Italy's upcoming constitutional referendum has taken a 54-46 per cent lead, according to...

German minister hopeful shunned after "liking" right-wing party

A German prosecutor tapped for a cabinet position in an east German state is out of the running after "liking" the...

EU parliament chief raises hopes of salvaging Canada trade deal

An embattled trade EU-Canada trade deal should be signed as planned next week, European Parliament President Martin...

Police suspect tear gas in London City airport "chemical incident"

Police said they suspected CS gas could have caused a "chemical incident" that led to a three-hour evacuation of ...