German Military Set For Overhaul to be ‘War Capable’

The German defense minister unveiled a proposal to restructure the country’s military leadership on Thursday to make the German armed forces more “war-capable.” Germany is NATO’s most populous European member.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz issued a significant rise in military expenditures soon after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, which he characterized as a “turning point.” After years of neglect, Germany’s defense minister, Boris Pistorius, seized the reins of the Bundeswehr last year and, in November, demanded a structural study.

Germany has historically lagged behind other NATO member states in allocating 2% of GDP to military expenditure; Scholz promised to rectify this in 2022 and establish a 100 billion euro special fund to upgrade the Bundeswehr.

At present, the Bundeswehr is divided into two command centers: one for domestic defense and another for overseas deployments.

An already-established “cyber and information” branch will be formally elevated to the status of a “fourth arm” of the military, with the authority to defend against cyberattacks, safeguard electronic infrastructure, and analyze hybrid threats like disinformation.

Pistorius has warned of a potential Russian assault on a NATO member in the future and has emphasized over and again that Germany’s military must become “war-capable,” a term that has some Germans scratching their heads in light of the country’s traditional conservative attitude toward military action since the end of WWII.

In his view, a unified operational military command, the centerpiece of his proposed reforms, would allow for more rapid decision-making and the elimination of unnecessary bureaucracy.

With the 75th anniversary of NATO approaching, Pistorius emphasized the challenge of resetting the Bundeswehr for a new and old challenge — that of defending the country and the alliance.

After the military budget runs out, which is expected to happen in 2027, it is unclear how Germany will get to 2%. The number of orders for new equipment has improved, but last month the military commissioner of parliament said that the Bundeswehr “still has too little of everything.”