BERLIN Feb 21 Germany is to increase its army
by 5,000 soldiers, the defence ministry said on Tuesday,
bringing the total to 198,000 in 2024, at a time when U.S.
pressure is mounting on European NATO members to raise military
"The German army faces demands like never before," Defence
Minister Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement, adding that
the army had to be able to respond in an appropriate way to
developments abroad and security concerns.
Germany, reluctant for decades after World War Two to get
involved in military missions abroad, has in the last few years
become more active in supporting international deployments such
as in Afghanistan, Mali and against Islamic State militants.
In January, Germany sent a battlegroup of more than 1,000 to
Lithuania as part of a NATO mission to protect its eastern
border with Russia in response to its annexation of Crimea and
its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
On top of the 5,000 extra soldiers, Germany is also adding
1,000 civilians posts and about 500 reserves.
The increase, long flagged by von der Leyen, comes at a time
when U.S. President Donald Trump is pushing NATO members,
especially from Europe, to raise their military spending.
The defence alliance in 2014 agreed to end years of defence
cuts and meet a target of spending 2 percent of economic output
on defence by 2024. German defence spending is currently at 1.22
A defence ministry spokeswoman said provided the plan goes
ahead, the increase would mean additional costs of about 955
million euros ($1.01 billion) per year from 2024.
($1 = 0.9494 euros)
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers, editing by Ed Osmond)