Bundeswehr Plan

In Reversal, Germany Seeks Military Buildup

Bundesverteidigungsministerin Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) wird am 05.04.2016 nach ihrer Ankunft im Camp Castor in Gao in Mali vom Kommandeur des Deutschen Einsatzkontingents, Marc Vogt, begrüßt. Von der Leyen hält sich zu einem dreitägigen Besuch im westafrikanischen Mali auf und besucht die dort im Rahmen der Mission ASIFU-MINUSMA stationierten Soldaten der Bundeswehr. Foto: Michael Kappeler/dpa
Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen, visiting German troops in Mali in April.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • Germany’s plan to expand its armed forces in a response to new threats ranging from the Ukraine conflict to terrorism.
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  • Facts

    Facts

    • On Tuesday, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced plans to increase the size of the armed forces for the first time in 25 years.
    • Since Germany’s reunification in 1990, the number of troops in the Bundeswehr, the German military, dropped from 585,000 to 177,000.
    • The Bundeswehr needs 14,300 additional soldiers and 4,400 civilian staffers by 2023, according to Ms. von der Leyen.
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    Audio

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Germany, once the front line in a decades-long confrontation between East and West, has been cutting back its armed forces for a quarter of a century, cashing in the peace dividend that followed the end of the Cold War.

Since German reunification in 1990, the number of troops in the Bundeswehr, the German military, dropped from 585,000 to 177,000. And compulsory military service was scrapped in 2011.

But Germany’s defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, wants to reverse the decline. She is proposing that Germany recruit at least 7,000 new soldiers over the next seven years.

Another 5,000 or so will be added through internal restructuring.

Through 2023, Germany needs 14,300 new soldiers, according to the ministry’s forecasts. But Ms. von der Leyen didn’t say that so many new soldiers would actually be made available.

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