Germany Plans Revamped Military Service Model: Sources

Germany is planning a new military service model as the country looks to revamp its depleted armed forces in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, parliamentary sources told AFP on Wednesday.

Under the plans, young men will be required to register for potential military service, though it will remain essentially voluntary, the sources said.

Germany suspended compulsory military service in 2011, but the conflict in Ukraine has reignited the debate around whether young men and women should be required to serve in the army — known as the Bundeswehr.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius will present plans for a new military service model later on Wednesday.

Under the plans, all school leavers will be sent a questionnaire asking them about their interest in the army as well as their health and physical abilities, the sources said.

All young men will be required to return the questionnaire, while for women it will be voluntary.

Based on their answers, a contingent of young men and women will then be invited to a selection process.

The strongest candidates will be recruited for an initial six-month stint of military service, with the option of extending for those who are interested.

Opposition parties have called on the government to go further and reintroduce compulsory conscription.

The German conservatives in May voted in favour of a temporary return to conscription, approving a motion tabled by the party’s youth wing.

Pistorius had earlier hinted he may be considering some form of return to compulsory military service.

“If there are not enough volunteers, we will also have to enlist young people to serve,” he told Die Zeit newspaper in May.

Since 2011, military service has been entirely voluntary in Germany, consisting of a period of between seven and 23 months in the armed forces combined with civic engagement.

However, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the army has struggled to attract new talent as officials seek to boost troop numbers.

Despite a concerted recruitment drive, the Bundeswehr welcomed just 18,802 new members in 2023 — only 27 more than in 2022.

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