German Government Still Not Willing to Fund Defense

The German military is in bad shape, and people wonder if it can meet its obligations under the NATO treaty. European arms deals ‘at risk’ over German defence spending row

Merkel wants to increase spending to €5.5 billion over 4 years, but the German Defense Minister of Merkel’s government says they need €12 billion this year to meet NATO commitments, or several programs will have to be canceled.

The cancellations include 6 new submarines to be built by Germany’s Thyssnkrup and armed by Norway’s Kongsberg. Also a risk is participation in a joint squadron of C130 Hercules aircraft with the French. If Germany cancels its 6 aircraft, it would leave France holding the bag.

A parliamentary watchdog warned in February that equipment shortages are putting Germany’s ability to meet its Nato commitements “in question”.

In the background, there is mention of the fact that President Trump has said Germany needs to fund its defense so that it can meet NATO obligations. Germany isn’t alone in shirking those responsibilities. It is so much easier for the Europeans to let the Americans handle it.

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If Europe Doesn’t Take Security Seriously…

European Defense SpendingFor decades, they have asked us to foot the bill. And we have. And maybe this made sense in 1950, while they were rebuilding after WWII, but does it make sense today? German army chief warns over defence spending ahead of Trump-Merkel meeting

Severe underfunding of the military is putting Germany’s security at risk, the head of the country’s influential armed forces association warned on Thursday.

Click the image for a larger view (courtesy of the Telegraph).

The UK, Poland and Estonia are the only 3 European NATO countries that meet the target of 2% of GDP spent on defense.

The German military has been a problem for a long time. And it doesn’t look like Merkel wants to fix it.

Only 95 of the German army’s 244 Leopard main battle tanks were operational at the time of the report because of maintenance issues. None of the German navy’s six submarines were operational, and only nine of a planned 15 frigates are in service.

Wasn’t Germany the country that basically perfected submarine warfare in the first half of the 20th Century? And now they have no functioning submarines.

So what exactly is the “shared defense” of NATO, if by “shared” they mean, “Let the Americans handle it?” I don’t think this is how the alliance was originally envisioned.

German military procurement is “one hell of a complete disaster.”

Remember when Trump accused NATO allies of not pulling their weight in the treaty organization? They aren’t. German Navy experiences “LCS affect” in spades as new frigate fails sea trials | Ars Technica

The German Navy has a lot of problems right now. It has no working submarines, in part because of a chronic repair parts shortage. The Deutsche Marine is still flying helicopters older than their pilots—the Sea Lynx entered service in 1981, and the Sea King in 1969—and has long-delayed their replacement. And now the service is facing problems with its newest ships so severe that the first of the class failed its sea trials and was returned to the shipbuilders in December.

Now a ship failing sea trials is most definitely NOT the fault of the NAVY. (Though this is a new design, and that may be the fault of the navy.) But not having any operational submarines due to lack of parts is a logistical problem, and probably has a budgetary cause – as in the politicians don’t want to pay for defense. As witnessed by the age of the helicopters flying off frigates and destroyers.

Of course the problems are not limited to the Deutsche Navy, they are just buying really large items. German military is falling behind, and the US is putting it on notice – Business Insider

A few of things that are wrong:

  • Helicopter pilot training has been outsourced to a private company – most of the Bundeswehr helicopters are out of commission.
  • Only 95 of 244 Leopard 2 tanks are in service.
  • Only 29 of 93 commissioned fighter jets are combat-ready. (Only 66 are operational)
  • In recent NATO war games they were forced to disguise broomsticks as machine guns to hide the fact that they don’t have enough equipment.

Things haven’t been getting better the past 4 years.

All these problems are hurting recruiting. (Gee, you think?) Even German politicians are beginning to bring some heat.

“We should not develop the reputation of being one of the world’s best freeloaders,” Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference and Germany’s former envoy to Washington said.

I don’t believe that the current government of Germany (Angel Merkel was finally able to get a coalition government formed 6 months after the election) will be able to do anything like increase defense spending. Certainly not to the 2% of GDP level that was in an agreement.

How to Survive a Russian Invasion, and other tips from Lithuania

Sometimes when you go looking for one thing, you find something completely unexpected.

So the National Review has a reaction to Merkel reacting to Trump, on the subject of defense spending. NATO Allies Must Boost Defense Spending or Risk Losing U.S. Protection | National Review

The basic question is:

Why should Americans care about protecting our European allies if European citizenries themselves do not support the military defense of member states against Russia in the event that Article V is invoked? There are vast tidal forces of history at work in the world today, some that can be controlled and some that cannot. Continuing to shirk commitments to one’s own defense with the expectation that the U.S. will foot the bill instead is the wrong way to engender continued transatlantic respect and friendship.

It is a fairly good article, that covers what Article V means to the people involved, and it is generally worth a read.

If you follow a bunch of links, you eventually find this 2015 article from the Atlantic, about a manual published by the government of Lithuania.

How to Survive a Russian Invasion – The Atlantic

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are known collectively as the Baltic states. All three of them were part of the old Soviet Union, and they believe that Putin’s Russia would like to re-occupy them. They have been independent since the 1990s, and they joined NATO as soon as they were able.

After the way Russia retook Crimea and what they have been reported to be doing in the rest of Ukraine, Lithuania thought they should prepare their citizens for more of the same.

The 98-page guide, which this week goes out to libraries and army personnel in the 3-million-strong Baltic nation, is meant to gird citizens for the possibility of invasion, occupation, and armed conflict. The manual, entitled “How to Act in Extreme Situations or Instances of War,” may seem an overly anxious measure in a country like Lithuania, which lived under Soviet control from 1940 to 1991 but has enjoyed the security of European Union and NATO membership since 2004.

You know it seems like just yesterday that Obama (rumored to be the smartest President we’ve ever had) was laughing at someone and making snide comments like, “How could anyone be worried about Russia?” This is the 21st Century after all.

Germany Is Happy to Have the US Continue to Fund the Bulk of NATO

Because that’s the way we’ve always done it. Germany balks at Tillerson call for more European NATO spending | Reuters

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said it was neither “reachable nor desirable” for Germany to spend the agreed NATO target of two percent of member states’ economic output on defense. NATO allies have until 2024 to do that.

And they say they’re worried that we aren’t serious about the alliance. But if they were serious, they would meet their funding obligations.

European Hand-wringing Over Trump and the State of European Defense

Zeit is in many ways an annoying organization, but it is one of the few German publications/media companies that translates some of their stuff into English. And even though they are annoying, it is still worth reading some of what they have to say. Transatlantic relations: Yankee Goes Home | ZEIT ONLINE

Europe has benefited from the relationship with America, mostly – though not completely – through our defense of them during the Cold War. At first there was no choice, but later, it was more habit. That, and they found it nice to let us pay for the defense while they spent their money on more profitable things.

Behind all Trump’s attacks against NATO, the European Union and free trade lurks the suspicion that for a long time the United States profited less from these arrangements than the freeloaders on the other side of the ocean.

And unfortunately there’s something to that. It’s been clear to European governments for some time that they have to spend more on defense.

The NATO Alliance calls on member states to spend a minimum of 2 percent of their GDP on defense. Germany – probably the strongest European country economically speaking – spends about 1.2 percent. Less, proportionally, than Albania. The result isn’t hard to predict: A military that could not defend its country if called upon to do so. Germany forced to resort to run-down and outdated military that experts say couldn’t win World War I let alone a modern war

He cites many examples, including the Saxony-based 371st tank battalion – a so-called “spearhead” unit of Nato’s Response Force.

In recent years it has had to beg and borrow 15,000 pieces of equipment from 56 other army units just to stay up to speed.

Meanwhile the 345th artillery training battalion is officially supposed to have 24 armoured artillery vehicles at its disposal.

But the reality is it has just seven, and all are on standby for Nato, meaning the unit has not carried out a single training exercise for three years.

A build up won’t happen overnight, especially not with Angela Merkel’s government still in power. They are hoping this issue goes away, and that America could just go back to footing the bill. No questions asked.

Remember When Obama Laughed at Romney for Saying Russia was a Threat?

I actually wish we had some of that 1980’s foreign policy. We need something in place what we have. Russia and NATO stage rival air combat exercises.

The drills would involve 12,000 troops, 250 aircraft and nearly 700 artillery pieces and other heavy weaponry and include cruise missile strikes at an imaginary enemy target at a Siberian firing range, the Tass news agency reported.

This 3rd exercise in 3 months is happening while NATO is doing its own set of war games, just over the horizon.

About 100 fighter jets and 4000 military personnel from the United States and eight European countries began exercises over the Arctic on Monday, Norwegian Brigadier General Jan Ove Rygg announced in a statement from Oslo.

Live fire will be included in the NATO games. So in theory while we are just making faces at one another, this could go really wrong, really fast. Especially if Putin decides to double-down on his invasion of Ukraine. (Which former Soviet Republics, and Warsaw Pact countries are a bit worried about.)

You know, as much as we all hated the Cold War, this doesn’t seem so cold to me.

So maybe Romney was right, and Russia IS a bigger threat than ISIS. (video after the fold)

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