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EU state could let foreigners serve in armed forces – media

German efforts to boost the Bundeswehr have been hampered by sluggish recruitment rates

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius is willing to consider enlisting non-nationals into the country’s armed forces in a bid to ease manpower shortages, according to the Rheinische Post newspaper.

Pistorius admitted last year that the EU country’s military, the Bundeswehr, was experiencing problems attracting new recruits to its ranks. Berlin is seeking to implement an overhaul of its armed forces in the wake of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has vowed to increase defense spending to help modernize the Bundeswehr, which has long faced claims of a lack of resources and adequate funding. In a bid to boost flagging numbers, Pistorius has said he is willing to consider broadening recruitment to include people who do not have a German passport.

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“We would not be the first armed forces in Europe to do this,” Pistorius said, according to the Rheinische Post on Sunday. “There are people in the country who live in Germany in the second or third generation, but do not yet have German citizenship.”

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The initiative has gained some support from the Free Democratic Party (FDP), which is part of Germany’s three-way coalition government, as well as the opposition bloc of the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU).

“In the search for suitable young people ready to serve in the ranks of the Bundeswehr, we must in principle be prepared to think on a much more European scale,” Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmerman, head of the Bundestag’s Defense Committee, was quoted as saying.

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“Related to this issue is the idea that soldiers without a German passport can quickly obtain one through service in the Bundeswehr,” she added.

However, Johann Wadephul, a defense adviser for the CDU/CSU faction, warned that the proposal requires further clarification before it can be formally implemented. “Will this opportunity be provided only to citizens of EU and NATO countries or to others too? Is fluency in German necessary for this?” he asked, according to the Rheinische Post.

Germany is planning to increase its military to 203,000 personnel from its current level of around 181,000 by 2025, DW said last month. Speaking in Stuttgart in August, Pistorius said that attempts to boost Bundeswehr numbers are being hampered by sluggish recruitment, and that 7% fewer potential recruits had applied up to that point than in the same period one year prior.

January 22, 2024 at 10:10PM
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