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.