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Western European states facing army personnel crisis – FT

NATO countries will not be able to deploy more than 300,000 troops in case of a conflict, experts warn

NATO countries in Europe are reportedly facing a shortage of military personnel and would have difficulty mobilizing a significant number of troops in case of a conflict, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

According to the outlet’s analysts, Western European members of the US-led military bloc are said to have 1.9 million troops “on paper.” In reality, however, they would face challenges deploying more than 300,000 people – and even this would require months of preparation.

Former NATO Assistant Secretary-General Camilla Grand explained that the bloc’s members have never had to consider mass deployment of their forces and that European defense planning has for many years been limited to matters such as supplying “300 special forces for Afghanistan.”

“That’s created gaps,” Grand said, adding that the bloc has seen “a shrinking in forces all over the continent year after year.”

Ben Barry, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, also told FT that NATO’s European members have focused on increasing military budgets but have neglected conscripting more people.

According to Barry, European NATO states have now reached a “tipping point of critical mass” and have entered a “vicious circle” in which personnel shortages limit their military capabilities and make it difficult to train new recruits, frustrating existing servicemen and forcing them to leave the army.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on June 14, 2024.
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In order to address the problem, experts told FT that Western European nations would have to resolve several issues such as competitive pay for servicemen and attractive benefits, while employing various methods to attract more recruits.

NATO states would also have to address the issue of living conditions for their personnel, as barracks in countries such as Germany and the UK are reported to be in a state of dilapidation and are plagued with mold, pest infestations, and other issues.

Another pressing factor, according to the report, is the issue of patriotism among NATO servicemen. The FT noted that while in countries such as Poland and the Baltic states, the perceived threat of Russian aggression has spurred recruitment, these fears are not shared in places such as Germany and the UK.

Russia has repeatedly stressed that it has no intention of attacking any NATO members. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin has cautioned the West against escalating tensions in Ukraine and attempting to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Moscow, warning that this could pose a threat to the Russian state and trigger its nuclear doctrine.

June 26, 2024 at 11:08PM
RT

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