Germany's Bundeswehr 'Lacks Basic Equipment' for NATO Mission
(Source: Deutsche Welle German radio; posted Feb 19, 2018)
The German army lacks the protective vests, winter clothes and tents needed for its deployment in a NATO rapid reaction force, a report says. But that is not the only shortfall.

German soldiers do not have enough protective vests, winter clothing and tents for their participation in NATO's 'spearhead force,' a newspaper report said on Monday, citing a paper presented to the Defense Ministry.

The news comes as Germany prepares to take over the leadership of the multinational Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) Army Command at the start of the next year, with Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (top picture) under intense pressure to bring equipment up to scratch by then.

Sleeping cold

The newspaper Rheinische Post cites the internal paper by Germany's Army Command as stating that the army would lack sufficient tents until at least 2021.

According to the Army Command report, 10,282 mobile "accommodation units" are needed for the army's deployment in the VJTF for the period 2018 to 2020, but only 2,500 are currently available — and even these are not fit for purpose.

Protective vests and winter clothing were also in such short supply that it would be "impossible" to ensure that demands were met, it said.

Last week, German media reported that the Bundeswehr was also lacking sufficient tanks and operational aircraft to fulfill its duties as VJTF leader, along with other equipment shortfalls such as night-vision equipment and automatic grenade launchers.

'Scandalous situation'

The Rheinische Post said German parliamentarians reacted with outrage to news of the latest deficiencies.

"We cannot and will not accept" such supply gaps, said defense expert Fritz Felgentreu from the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

The Free Democrat (FDP) politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann found even stronger words.

"The fact that even basic equipment such as protective vests and winter clothing is in short supply shows what the miserable state the Bundeswehr is in as a result of cutting costs," she said, adding that her party would set up a subcommittee to "look into this scandalous situation" at the next meeting of the Bundestag's Defense Committee.

The VJTF is a 5,000-strong force initiated by NATO in 2014 to counter the threat of Russian military aggression against Baltic member states. The force is supposed to be capable of going into action within 24 hours.


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