Forces: January 20, 2004

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Germany is cutting it's defense budget by over $30 billion and reducing manpower by 35,000 troops. The budget cuts mean it will not upgrade it's Patriot anti-aircraft missiles or buy UAVs for the navy. This is in recognition of the fact that Germany, for the first time ever, is not threatened by invasion. But there is still a lot of  enthusiasm for peacekeeping operations, and the armed forces will be reorganized more for that kind of duty. But in the meantime, at least a hundred military bases, most of them quite small, will be closed. There will still be problems. The military has been under funded since the end of the Cold War and peacekeeping, it turns out, can get pretty expensive. 

Efforts to end conscription are also meeting with resistance, as a quarter of those eligible for conscription choose the alternative, working for one additional month, free, for a social welfare organization. As it is, military conscripts only serve for nine months, while alternative service is only ten months. But the social welfare organizations face financial catastrophe if they lose their free labor. The generals would prefer to get rid of conscription, and go all volunteer like Britain and the United States. The budget cuts and shift towards peacekeeping will probably result in less training, lower readiness and lower morale. 

 


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