Can Germany become the pillar of European Defense in the making?

The Russian aggression against Ukraine has shattered many certainties in Europe concerning the security reality of the old continent. The country which is today most severely affected by these changes is none other than the one which announced on February 27, barely 4 days after the start of the Russian offensive, the most radical change in its own policy, abandoning 30 years of Soft-Power and OstPolitik for spectacular measures to modernize and strengthen its armed forces, with an immediate envelope of €100 billion and an annual budget that will be increased beyond the 2% of GDP demanded by the NATO since 2014, compared to 1,53% today. If Berlin is still very dependent economically speaking on Moscow, in particular concerning its energy supply, this radical shift in terms of defense effort will profoundly upset the geopolitical map in Europe, placing Berlin at the top of the defense pyramid in Europe in terms of investments. However, will Germany become the pillar of the new European defense that is taking shape, as it already is for the economy?

It must be said that in terms of defence, Germany comes a long way. Even if its annual expenditure in this area equals and even exceeds those of France, the German Armies have suffered for nearly 30 years from a defense policy bordering on demagogy, considerably eroding its operational capabilities. Thus, despite an air force of more than 200 Typhoon and Tornado fighter planes, the Luftwaffe struggles to field more than a full combat-ready squadron within less than 1 month. The same is true of its combat fleet, having even recorded 4 years ago zero availability of its 6 Type 212 submarines, and only a third of its mechanized forces, with an effective availability barely equal to that of a battalion for a fleet of leopard 2 tanks of 359 copies. In fact, on the first day of the war in Ukraine, the Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr, thee Lieutenant General Alfons Mais, made a clear statement "the Bundeswehr, which I have the honor to command, remains today with almost empty hands, and very limited responses to the needs of the (Atlantic) alliance”.

in June 2018, less than a third of the major equipment of the German armies was actually operational, and its 6 Type 212 submarines were unavailable.

In the 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of the two Germanys, the German armies have become a formidable structure for spending public funds inefficiently, largely due to a political class and of public opinion disconnected from their own defense needs. Thereby, the new frigates of the German navy are so weakly armed that the French ships serve as floating arsenals in comparison (sarcasm!), Berlin estimating until a few months ago that their function will be limited to low-intensity missions, particularly in the Mediterranean and along the African coasts. Similarly, it appeared during the European intervention over Syria that the German Tornado were no longer capable of conducting night operations due to faulty cockpit lighting. On the political-public scene, the question of whether or not MALE drones should be armed, and even whether Berlin could participate in a European program of potentially armed drones, was one of the big topics of the last election campaign. Finally, because of its small format and its difficulties in recruiting, the Bundeswehr has become the western army spending the most each year per soldier, partly due to excessive use of private contractors at all levels. operational. In fact, today, the German Armies are indeed facing immense challenges in terms of the availability and obsolescence of its equipment, but also in terms of format, and above all of the structural model, in order to hope to restore its military capabilities. consistent with the economic rank of the country in Europe and in the world.


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