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New conscription model: Pistorius’ plans for the Bundeswehr

New conscription model: Pistorius’ plans for the Bundeswehr
New conscription model: Pistorius’ plans for the Bundeswehr

After more than ten years, Boris Pistorius wants to reintroduce conscription into the German army. The defense minister has now announced his first plans. His party doesn’t like this at all.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius wants to reestablish the registration of those fit for military service, which was suspended 13 years ago, for a new conscription model. According to information from the German Press Agency, the SPD politician also wants to oblige young men to fill out a questionnaire about their willingness and ability to serve and to submit themselves to a medical examination if selected. It is also planned to create additional capacities for medical examinations.

The SPD politician’s proposal is a first step towards the possible reintroduction of a new military service. At the same time, Pistorius wants to first initiate the steps that still seem practically possible during this legislative period.

According to dpa information, the Pistorius plan requires an extension of the conscription law for young men. Military planners assume that 400,000 people will have to fill out the questionnaire each year, and they estimate that a quarter of them could express interest. The plan is to order 40,000 candidates for conscription. There is currently capacity for training 5,000 to 7,000 recruits, but this is expected to grow. The assumption is that the service could last six or even twelve months.

Pistorius plans to inform the Bundestag’s Defense Committee about his plans on Wednesday morning. He plans to present them to the public at a press conference in the afternoon.

Not all comrades support Pistorius’ conscription plan

There has recently been clear opposition to the reintroduction of compulsory military service, particularly in parts of the SPD. SPD leader Lars Klingbeil has spoken out in favor of continuing to rely on voluntary recruitment. “I think we should try it voluntarily by making the Bundeswehr even more attractive,” he said. Green Party leader Omid Nouripour made it clear at the turn of the year: “I don’t think that compulsory military service is needed.” Resistance to compulsory service also came from the FDP, although a change of course seems possible.

According to the Pistorius model, it would now be compulsory to answer the questionnaire and to undergo a medical examination if invited. He is reportedly in favor of opening the way for compulsory military service even in peacetime if not enough recruits can be found.

In 2011, conscription was suspended in Germany under Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU) after 55 years. This amounted to the abolition of military and civilian service. At the same time, practically all structures for conscription were dissolved. However, the Conscription Act also stipulates that conscription for men will be reinstated if the Bundestag declares a state of tension and defense, without there having been any concrete preparations for such a situation after 2011.

The Bundeswehr is shrinking

Despite a personnel offensive, the Bundeswehr shrank to 181,500 soldiers last year. Pistorius therefore had models for compulsory military service examined – also under the impression of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. He had already let it be known in a government survey that he was not counting on complete voluntary service: “I firmly believe that it will not work without compulsory elements.” He repeatedly stressed that Germany must become “war-ready” in order to be able to credibly deter people together with its NATO allies.

Most recently, at the Bundeswehr Day, he expressed his understanding that the term “competence in war” had frightened some people and still bothers them. This was also partly the intention. “It is necessary to make clear what this is about by using the right terms,” ​​he added. It is about being able to wage a defensive war if you are attacked – “in other words, being prepared for the worst so that you are not confronted with it.”

Justice in military service remains a problem

The debate about military service is also about the constitutional requirement of military justice. The Federal Agency for Civic Education writes that since the founding of the Bundeswehr, there have always been more able-bodied men than were needed for the army, which has often been seen as unfair.

The state also has other compulsory services, such as lay judges. Every citizen is obliged to take on this role as a volunteer judge. And for fire protection, a so-called compulsory fire brigade is set up if a voluntary fire brigade cannot be set up. The municipalities must then enlist suitable people to serve in the fire service. A broader new compulsory service, which could also include rescue services and disaster control, has recently been publicly discussed. The constitution would have to be amended to make compulsory service for young women.

Bundeswehr Association now sees test case for the turning point

Before the Pistorius plans became known, the chairman of the Bundeswehr Association, Colonel André Wüstner, had called for decisive steps towards a new military service. The number of personnel in the Bundeswehr fell to its lowest level since 2018 this month, Wüstner told the German Press Agency in Berlin. “The coming days will show who has actually experienced a change of heart, at least in terms of defense policy, since the declaration of a new era,” said the association head with a view to the debate. “Because anyone who claims that about themselves – I hope that at least the specialist politicians do – will not be able to speak out against a new form of military service or a new type of conscription.”

Source: Stern

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