Bloomberg News

Germany Closes 31 Military Bases Amid Armed-Forces Cutbacks

October 26, 2011

Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) -- The German government announced military base closures as part of an overhaul and cutbacks of the nation’s combined armed forces, the Bundeswehr.

Thirty-one bases out of 328 across Germany will be shut completely and 90 others scaled back “significantly,” Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said today. The closures follow Germany’s decision to scrap conscription and cut personnel from more than 200,000 soldiers to no more than 185,000.

“The military must effectively be able to deploy in an entire range of responsibilities,” de Maiziere told reporters in Berlin. “That includes purely stability missions, missions in armed conflicts as well as high-intensity combat missions.”

Germany is shifting its military from a Cold War-era defense posture to a leaner fighting force more suitable for deployments in places such as Afghanistan, where the country’s 5,000 troops make it the third-largest contributor. Chancellor Angela Merkel also put the Defense Ministry on the chopping block as part of measures to cut the deficit.

The new measures include cuts that may hit companies such as European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. Spending reductions will scale back orders or stocks of hardware such as Eurofighter combat jets, A400M military-transport planes as well as Leopard 2 and Puma tanks, the Defense Ministry said last week.

De Maiziere held talks with defense industry officials on Oct. 19, reassuring them that the German military will seek other options to extend orders as it reshapes its forces.

‘Too Much Supervision’

The minister’s plans are part of an effort to streamline the military, where de Maiziere said in May there’s “too much supervision over too little work.” The overhaul began under de Maiziere’s predecessor, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who resigned in March after a plagiarism scandal.

In contrast to the base cuts, de Maiziere announced earlier this week that the Defense Ministry will maintain its primary headquarters in Bonn, where the federal government has kept more than half its workforce since moving the capital to Berlin in the 1990s.

The elimination of the draft will require making a career in the military more attractive in a country where part of the population is skeptical of military interventions. Germany didn’t support the international campaign in Libya.

--Editors: Leon Mangasarian, Eddie Buckle.

To contact the reporters on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at pdonahue1@bloomberg.net; Brian Parkin in Berlin at bparkin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net


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