Poll: Most Germans support commissioner's calls for more soldiers

The majority of Germans support calls from the country's parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces to boost numbers by at least 7,000 in light of worldwide crises, according to an opinion poll.

"Personnel in the Bundeswehr has been in free fall for 25 years," Hans-Peter Bartels said in an interview with dpa. The army has around 178,000 soldiers, a huge drop since the reunification between the former East and West Germany, when troops amounted to almost 600,000.

"That has now to be turned around again. It cannot go down any further, it must rise," he stressed.

Fifty-six per cent of Germans said they are in favour of boosting the German military's personnel, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by dpa.

Thirty per cent of those asked said they would oppose such a move.

According to the commissioner's figures, the military has to again reach the 185,000 soldiers foreseen in the 2010 Bundeswehr reform as a minimum requirement for fulfilling its current tasks.

The Defence Ministry is currently looking into replenishing troop strength. The results will be available in spring at the latest.

"In many branches we are slowly running into our limits," Bartels says.

His comments were backed up by Andre Wuestner, head of the Bunderswehrverband soldiers' union, who told Deutschlandfunk radio on Sunday that it would no longer be possible for the army to carry out all of its tasks with the current staff and resources.

Wuestner said that around 20,000 soldiers are currently deployed worldwide.

Bartels has also called for a rise in the number of active duty posts for volunteer servicemen and women. Currently there are only 5,000 such posts, although on average 10,000 volunteers are in service.

A large proportion of military personnel - 7,000 soldiers - are currently engaged in offering support to the country's migrants and refugees. The number of asylum application in Germany has rocketed in 2015 to over 1 million.

In recent months, the German parliament decided to raise the military contingent's size in Afghanistan from 850 to 980, and approved plans to join the international fight against Islamic State in Syria by providing reconnaissance support, refuelling aircraft and troops to its allies.

Last update: Sun, 27/12/2015 - 14:59
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