Germany's military has a manpower problem, and its solution may be foreigners and teenagers

Business Insider | 8/24/2018 | Christopher Woody
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Germany's military has struggled with equipment and manpower problems for years.

It's taking a number of steps deal with the latter issue, including recruiting minors.

Soldiers - Uniform - Bundeswehr - Heat

Despite regulating what under-18 soldiers can do in uniform, the Bundeswehr is taking heat for signing them up.

Germany's military has been struggling with a variety of organizational and technical problems, like equipment shortages, debates over funding, and troop shortfalls.

Manpower - Issue - Bundeswehr - End - Cold

Manpower in particular is a lingering issue for the Bundeswehr, which has shrunk since the end of the Cold War and further reduced after mandatory military service was ended in 2011.

From a high of 585,000 personnel in the mid-1980s, German troop levels have fallen to just under 179,000 as of mid-2018. In 2017, the Bundeswehr had 21,000 unfilled positions, and half of the force's current members are expected to retire by 2030.

Von - Der - Leyen - Cap - Troops

Von der Leyen said she would remove the 185,000-person cap on the military and add 14,300 troops over seven years — a total that was upped to 20,000 in 2017.

One method under discussion to bring in those new personnel is recruiting citizens of other EU countries.

Approach - Support - Parties - Qualifications - Defense

That approach has general support among the governing parties, though not without qualifications. Defense experts and politicians have said that any foreign recruits should be offered citizenship, lest the force become "a mercenary army."

Another strategy that has been underway for some time is the recruitment of minors. The Bundeswehr has mounted a media campaign to bring in Germans under 18.

Military - YouTube - Channel - Subscribers - Videos

The military's official YouTube channel has over 300,000 subscribers, and its videos have garnered nearly 150 million views.

The Bundeswehr Exclusive channel, which posts video series, has more than 330,000 subscribers, and its videos — like the six-week series called "Mali" that followed eight German soldiers stationed with a UN peacekeeping force in the West African country — have drawn more than 68 million views.

The...
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