Germany Expected to Announce End of Conscription

A soldier of the German Bundeswehr instructs young men on their first day of compulsory military service.

From Judy Dempsey, New York Times: Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the defense minister, is expected to formally propose ending conscription this coming Sunday or Monday, when the cabinet retreats to a government house outside Berlin to discuss how and where to make big cuts to reduce the budget deficit.

In his attempt to modernize the army, Mr. Guttenberg has said he intends to close garrisons and reduce the armed forces to 150,000, from 250,000. That, he said, meant taking a hard look at conscription.

He said recently that the military budget, which amounts to €30 billion in 2010, or $36 billion, would have to be cut by €1 billion a year. …

“You don’t need conscription for the tasks of today’s army,” said Henning Riecke, security expert at the German Council for Foreign Relations in Berlin. “First of all, six months is ridiculously short. You cannot use these people when it comes to complex training exercises or using highly sophisticated equipment. The time is simply too short. …”

“Conscription is a kind of recruiting ground,” said Christian Schmidt, state secretary at the Defense Ministry. “It would be difficult to find good soldiers. We know from other countries which no longer have conscription that without it recruiting is a huge problem. We do not want to go the way of the U.S. and France.”

France, which abolished conscription in 2001, is among the many other NATO and E.U. countries that have turned their armies into volunteer, professional corps. A handful of others — Albania, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Greece, and Turkey — retain conscription. Sweden is phasing it out next month.  (photo: Getty)

Image: getty%206%203%2010%20Germany%20compulsory%20military%20service.jpg