German Military Mulls Recruiting EU Citizens over Personnel Shortage
Germany’s military presently has over 182,000 uniformed soldiers and some 60,000 civilian employees.
Germany’s armed forces are considering the possibility of recruiting citizens of other EU member states as a means of dealing with personnel shortages, a move that would mean doing away with the German nationality requirement.
Germany abandoned its draft of young military age adults back in 2011, and ever since the German military, the Bundeswehr, has been working to fill its ranks through recruitment campaigns.
The general inspector of the Bundeswehr, Eberhard Zorn, however, revealed on Thursday that the institution was mulling the “option” of resorting to other EU nationals in order to fill certain vacancies such as military doctors and IT experts.
That would require shedding the existing German nationality prerequisite for fixed term and professional soldiers, which is enshrined in Paragraph 37 of Germany’s Military Act (Soldatengesetz) back in 1956. It stipulates that members of the German military need to swear allegiance to Germany’s “free democratic constitutional order.”
“[Germany] must look in all directions and seek suitable trainees,” Zorn told newspapers of the Essen-based Funke Mediengruppe (media group),” as cited by DW.
“We are talking here, for example, about doctors or IT-specialists,” he said, reiterating a proposal for hiring EU nationals in the German military that first came to the fore in a strategy paper of the German Defense Ministry released back in 2016.
According to the Funke newspapers, Germany has already had talks with other EU governments over the possibility of recruiting their citizens into its military.
Some of the Eastern European EU states such as Bulgaria are reported to have met the idea with “reticence”.
A total of 530,000 EU citizens of other EU countries aged 18 to 30 are already living in Germany, and could be deemed a suitable recruitment pool for the German armed forces should their German nationality requirement be dropped.
“[The Bundeswehr already includes] many soldiers with migratory backgrounds or dual-nationality citizens,” said Social Democrat (SPD) Hans-Peter Bartels, a military rapporteur in the German Parliament, adding that recruiting EU nationals would be “a kind of normality”.
Latest figures revealed by Germany’s Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday show that the uniformed soldiers in the German military reached a total of182,000 at the end of 2018, including 12% females, a record high.
Since 2016 when it was at a record low, the number of Germany’s uniformed military personnel has grown by 6,500 people.
The Bundeswehr also has more than 60,000 civilian employees, and claims to be offering recruits some 1,000 vocations and career paths.
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