July 9, 2018 / 12:14 PM / 4 months ago

Mid-term German military budget not enough, says defence ministry

BERLIN (Reuters) - Planned government funding for Germany’s military, which faces worsening equipment and personnel shortages, will not meet its needs after next year and should be increased, the defence ministry said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO - Secretary General of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Peter Tauber and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead CDU leadership meeting in Berlin, Germany, February 19, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Defence State Secretary Peter Tauber told lawmakers the 2019 armed forces budget included significant increases, but hikes for the following three years under a mid-term budget plan approved last week by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet would leave the service short.

“Further increases in defence spending should follow in the next years ... to meet the Bundeswehr’s (military’s) needs,” Tauber wrote, citing a NATO target for members to spend 2 percent of economic output on defence.

Under the budget, Germany’s spending would rise to 1.3 percent of GDP in 2019 but then fall back to around 1.23 percent by 2022.

The largest economy in Europe is under fire from the United States and some other allies for not boosting military spending faster, and the issue is likely dominate a NATO summit this week.

‘AT THE EDGE OF CAPACITY’

According to an internal ministry report cited by mass-circulation daily Bild, Germany’s armed forces were operating “at the edge of their capacity,” leaving them too stretched to take on new missions while equipment shortages were affecting training.

No comment was immediately available from the Defence Ministry about the report, the latest in a series that raised alarms about the Bundeswehr’s readiness for combat after decades of spending cuts.

Merkel, a conservative, last week said she would continue pushing for increased military funding after years of cutbacks. But her centre-left coalition partners, the Social Democrats, control the finance ministry and are resisting this.

None of the navy’s six submarines were currently ready for use, only 90 of the army’s 179 Leopard 2 tanks were available, and air force training was constrained by shortages of pilots and maintenance technicians, Bild quoted the report as saying.

In the cyber realm, shortages could limit the ability to carry out existing missions this year, and further missions could only be conducted with “deficits in quality”, the newspaper added.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Andrea Shalal; Writing by Andrea Shalal, editing by Thomas Escritt and John Stonestreet

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