German Of The Day: Sollte, Müsste, Könnte, Würde…

These are examples of the infamous German Konjunktiv or conjunctive mood. They mean, in essence, should, ought to, could, would but… It ain’t gonna happen.

Spending

Take this example here: Why Germany Should Further Boost Defense Spending, and Why It Probably Won’t. Of course, the Germans know that they should, ought to, could, would spend more on defense but they just won’t because… It ain’t gonna happen. This grammatical subtlety has always worked nicely in the past, whether they were in a conjunctive mood or not. So, hey. Never touch a running system.

The United States is bristling at the suggestion Germany might miss its own defense spending target, which is already short of the NATO goal, prompting comments from officials, including U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell.

NATO countries have pledged to move toward spending 2 percent of GDP on defense and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had pledged to increase spending to 1.5 percent by 2024. Last year, at the NATO summit in Brussels, Trump criticized Germany’s contribution to the NATO and Merkel countered that the European country is the organization’s “second largest providers of troops,” according to The Guardian.

“NATO members clearly pledged to move towards, not away, from 2 percent by 2024. That the German government would even be considering reducing its already unacceptable commitments to military readiness is a worrisome signal to Germany’s 28 NATO Allies.”

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On Course, Of Course

Don’t anyone ever tell you that Germans aren’t reliable.

Bundeswehr

As noted yesterday, the equipment used by the German army is still as inadequate as ever, despite repeated promises by the German defense minister to make improvements.

And now, despite claims by the German government to one day reach the official NATO target of 2 per cent GDP on defense spending it agreed to years ago, it won’t even be able to make the 1.5 percent it set for itself by 2024. This is “round,” as the Germans say. It all fits like a glove.

Germany is on course to miss its self-declared target for defence spending in a development that threatens to trigger a new row with the US and raises further questions over Berlin’s military contribution to Nato.

The government of Angela Merkel agreed last year to raise the German military budget to 1.5 per cent of gross domestic product by 2024 — a marked increase but still short of the official Nato target of 2 per cent. 

But the 1.5 per cent target is now under threat after Olaf Scholz, the Social Democrat (SPD) finance minister, rebuffed plans for an ambitious increase in military spending in the years ahead, citing a worsening economic outlook.

Secret Report Not Much Of A Secret

It was just leaked, as secret reports so often are, and now it’s come out that – get this – the Bundeswehr’s equipment is still inadequate.

Tiger

Yawn. Been there, done that. Top inadequacies this time? Of the Bundeswehr’s 53 Tiger combat helicopters only 11.6 of them are operational (they would never get me in that .6 one). With the NH90 transport helicopter it’s 17.5 from 71 and only 15.9 of the 71 CH-53 transport helicopters are ready for combat.

But not to worry (as if anybody is). German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen promised a “turnaround” in the Bundeswehr’s equipment department – a year or two or three ago. Other defense menisters would have been fired for this long ago, of course, but 1) she’s a girl and 2) she’s one of Angie Merkel’s bosom buddies.

Die Ausstattung der Bundeswehr ist laut einem Zeitungsbericht weiterhin mangelhaft. Das zeige der neueste, als geheim eingestufte “Bericht zur Materiallage der Hauptwaffensysteme der Bundeswehr”, schreibt die “Welt am Sonntag”.

What Army?

Nobody wants to join Germany’s army.

Army

Germany’s armed forces are struggling to attract much-needed recruits, with the number of new soldiers joining the Bundeswehr falling to an all-time low last year. The shortages are an urgent challenge for the German military, which has tried to boost its strength and capabilities at a time of record-low unemployment, and against fierce competition from both the private sector and institutions such as the police.

The need to build up the Bundeswehr reflects at least in part the recent pressure from the U.S. and other allies to raise German defense spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product, in line with a longstanding commitment given by all NATO members. Berlin spent 1.2 percent of its budget on defense last year, a figure that is expected to rise to 1.5 percent by 2024. Still …

JUST 20,000 RECRUITS JOINED THE ARMED FORCES IN 2018, DOWN FROM 23,000 THE PREVIOUS YEAR, AND THE LOWEST IN THE HISTORY OF THE BUNDESWEHR.

Germany Reassures NATO Partners It Will Continue To Miss Defense Spending Goals

Worried that the German government’s tax revenues are likely to decrease in coming years due to a slowing economy, German defense officials were quick to explain to their NATO partners that this will have absolutely no effect on the country’s continued failure to increase defense expenditures.

Defens

“Whether tax revenues increase or not is really not the issue here,” these officials stressed. “We have absolutely no intention of raising our defense spending under any circumstances. We do this to ensure that our NATO partners will be able to plan effectively for future increased defense spending on their part and thus continue to protect us as they have done so in the past, pretty much free of charge. For us, anyway. But still.”

“We have time until the end of March. Let us negotiate.”

German Of The Day: Milliardenloch

That means a billion-euro hole. You know, as in the ones that will be appearing in the coming German federal budgets?

Loch

The money has been rolling in to Berlin for years but it looks like those days are about to end. Germany’s current finance minister, Olaf Scholz (SPD), warns that the government will be missing some 25 billion euros by 2023. No new expenditures possible, folks. Not unless there are cuts somewhere else. Right. Good luck with that, pal. You’re with the SPD, for crying out loud (that stands for Spend other People’s Dough).

And it sure would be a shocker if Germany now used this as an excuse not to live up to its defense spending commitments, wouldn’t it? See how this works, folks?

Nach Jahren sprudelnder Steuereinnahmen droht dem Bund wegen der abflauenden Konjunktur ein 25-Milliarden-Loch im Haushalt bis 2023.

German Of The Day: Mangelhaft

That means inadequate.

Mangelhaft

And that’s what Germany’s Wehrbeauftragter (Defense Commissioner) has to say about the conditions of Germany’s Bundeswehr. It’s still inadequate. I know this isn’t news or anything but it’s a cool word, don’t you think?

Funny, the Bundeswehr has been inadequate for as long as anyone can remember. At what point can you safely conclude that this inadequacy is intentional?

“Die Lage der Bundeswehr als „nach wie vor mangelhaft.”

The Bundeswehr Is Kaputt So Let’s Put It In Charge

Makes sense. Sort of.

Bundeswehr

As of Jan. 1, Germany is on the hook to provide 5,000 soldiers for NATO’s so-called Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, or VJTF. The formation must be ready to fight wherever it is needed within 48 to 72 hours. Partner nations for this year’s rotation include the Netherlands, Norway, France, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania, bringing the total package to around 8,000.

A key rationale for the quick-reaction force is to display to Moscow the ability to ferry combat power across Europe rapidly at a time when speed is believed to be a Russian advantage. Governments here are on edge from the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine’s Crimea, and more recently from a naval standoff between the two countries in the Sea of Asov. Both incidents fit into a pattern of Russia steering clear of outright war while trying to shake up the post-Soviet order around its borders, according to issue experts…

The Bundeswehr, plagued by equipment shortfalls, management problems, or both – depending on who is asked, has had to dig deep to assemble the needed equipment for the task force lead. In the end, funneling supplies from across the force to the tip of the spear appears to have worked, but it has depleted the readiness of many units, said Christian Mölling, an analyst with the Berlin-based German Council on Foreign Relations, DGAP.

“It means the rest of the Bundeswehr is no longer the kind of deterrent it is meant to be.”

Your Tax Euros In Action

You know the drill. These studies are routinely published (in this case by the German Federation of Taxpayers) demonstrating how tax money is burned by the government.

U-Boot

There were some real beauties in this report, too. But my personal favorite is the Case of the Squandered Submarines. The German navy has these six way cool new fuel cell driven submarines that set the German taxpayer back three billion euros. The only problem here is that none of them are currently operational and have spent most of their time dry-docked. Additionally, there are only three submarine commanders available to command these vessels. One of these subs has only been deployed once – in thirteen years. Wow. With a navy like this who needs an enemy?

And I’m sure the next tax increase is already in the works.

Die sechs U-Boote der deutschen Marine mit Brennstoffzellenantrieb gehören zum Modernsten, was die Nato in diesem Bereich zu bieten hat. Drei Milliarden Euro kosteten sie. Das Problem: Laut Schwarzbuch ist keines dieser U-Boote derzeit tatsächlich einsatzbereit.

Stray Dogs Might Be Next

Germany’s military has a manpower problem, and its solution may be foreigners and teenagers.

Bundeswehr

Germany’s long-understaffed Bundeswehr is using computer videogames in an effort to lure young people into its ranks.

During this year’s Gamescom trade fair for video games in Cologne, the German armed forces unfurled a number of “Multiplayer in Its Best” and “A More Open World Doesn’t Exist” posters with a bundeswehrkarriere.de link carefully printed underneath.

“Vor zwei Jahren hab’ ich noch mit Playmobil gespielt.”