German Soldiers Used Broomsticks Instead of Guns During NATO Exercise

German soldiers training for mission in Kosovo, Jan. 28, 2014From Justin Huggler, Telegraph:  German soldiers used broomsticks painted black instead of guns during a joint Nato exercise last year due to severe equipment shortages, it has emerged.

The incident took place during exercises for Nato’s rapid response force, formed in reaction to the Ukraine crisis, which is supposed to be ready to deploy anywhere it is needed at very short notice.

Soldiers in the Panzergrenadierbataillon 371 took part in the exercises last September in Norway.

The troops were missing 31 per cent of their MG3 general-purpose machine guns, 41 per cent of their P8 handguns, and more than three-quarters of their Lucie night-vision devices.

Soldiers resorted to painting broomsticks black and attaching them to Boxer armoured vehicles to simulate gun barrels.

The German Defence Ministry sought to downplay the incident, saying the Boxer vehicles in question were being used as mobile headquarters, and were never supposed to be armed.

The shortages of handguns and machine-guns have since been rectified, a spokesman said.It emerged last month that the German military was also using ordinary Mercedes vans as stand-ins for armoured personnel carriers during training because of equipment shortages.

General Harald Kujat, a former chief of staff of the German armed forces and chairman of the Nato military committee, described the latest incident as a “huge embarrassment….”

It emerged in a parliamentary report last year that only 42 of Germany’s 109 Typhoon fighters are available for immediate use because of maintenance issues.

Only 38 of its 89 Tornado bombers are operational, alongside only 280 of the army’s 406 Marten tanks.

Another parliamentary report last month told how members of Germany’s KSK special forces had to pull out of a Nato joint exercise because there was no operational helicopter available for them.

From Washington Post:  To make matters worse, the broom-equipped German soldiers belong to a crucial, joint NATO task force and would be the first to be deployed in case of an attack. Opposition politicians have expressed concerns about Germany’s ability to defend itself and other European allies, given that even some of the most elite forces lack basic equipment.

The central European country was the world’s third-largest arms exporter in 2013, but when it comes to Germany’s own defense politicians have been unwilling to invest. In 2013, Germany spent only 1.3 percent of its GDP on defense — a ratio which was below the average spending of the European members of NATO.

In an interview with local German newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, the head of the country’s green party Cem Özdemir argued that it was not only the lack of funding that posed a problem. “The financial resources are not being used efficiently,” Özdemir said last September. According to him, Europe’s armies only have one tenth of the strength of the U.S. Army, although they cost half of the defense budget of the United States.

From the Local (Germany):  It’s one way of sweeping your adversaries from the battlefield, a ministry spokesman in Berlin acknowledged while fielding the umpteenth media inquiry about the incident….

Like other contributors to Nato’s Response Force, German troops would have 30 days to amply arm and equip themselves for any deployment, it stressed.

Image: German soldiers training for mission in Kosovo, Jan. 28, 2014 (photo: US Army)