Germany ‘lacks equipment’ for Very High Readiness Joint Task Force

Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged a funding shortfall ahead of Germany's command of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force © Arno Mikkor (EU2017EE)
Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged a funding shortfall ahead of Germany's command of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force © Arno Mikkor (EU2017EE)

A new report has warned that the German army lacks basic equipment as the country prepares to take over command of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force in 2019.

Command of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), along with those countries providing supporting troops to the force, is decided on a rotational basis. However, while Germany is set to take over leadership at the beginning of next year, its military funding is significantly below NATO recommendations.

A new internal paper presented to the defence ministry by the German army command, which was obtained by the Rheinische Post, explains how this funding shortfall has impacted the army’s equipment and how this might affect its command of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force.

How is the shortfall affecting the German army?

According to the internal report, the German army, or Bundeswehr, is lacking vital equipment in a number of areas, including:

  • Tanks;
  • Operational aircraft;
  • Night-vision equipment;
  • Automatic grenade launchers; and
  • Protective vests and winter clothing.

The report estimates that for the army’s deployment in the VJTF, it will require some 10,282 tents from 2018-2020. However, it currently has only 2,500 available, and the paper further suggests that many of these are unsuitable for use.

What will Germany do?

In 2014, NATO members committed to spending 2% of GDP on defence per year, and only five countries are currently meeting this target. Germany’s defence spending was €37bn last year, which is only 1.26% of the country’s GDP.

The country’s defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, of President Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, has announced a plan to almost double defence spending to over €70bn by 2024.

However, the Social Democrat Party (SDP), the group which has is expected to form a ruling grand coalition with the CDU, is split on the issue. Sigmar Gabriel, Minister for Foreign Affairs, has called the target unrealistic, and recommended that if the money is available it should be invested in education.

On the other hand, SDP defence expert Fritz Felgentreu said that the party “cannot and will not” accept such gaps in the supply for the Bundeswehr, German outlet Deutsche Welle reported.

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