Germany’s military has been heavily mocked in the past for its inadequacy and lack of potency. American diplomats have lambasted Berlin for failing to invest in the armed forces despite their economic might. Merkel is now facing down demands from Bundestag members to shift the German attitude over military size – despite the announcement on Wednesday that they would develop a landmark new military laser.
Dr Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmerman, who sits as a centre-right Free Democratic Party member, said that Berlin needs to stop living in the past.
She said: “Germany needs to grow up.
“The post-war era is over.”
The inept size has been brought into the spotlight following Trump’s threat to withdraw troops from the region if Germany does not assume greater responsibility on joint missions.
This upset the likes of Dr Zimmermann, who says that Germany needs to take even more individual responsibility as it cannot rely on Trump.
She added: “The age in which our allies, and above all the US, could be relied on to save our bacon is past. Many of our partners feel that Germany’s reluctance is a sign of untrustworthiness.
“This does huge damage to Germany, precisely because our country depends on support from the other Europeans in its security policy. Simply chuntering from the sidelines is preposterous.”
The defence expert is just one of many disgruntled MPs sitting in the Bundestag.
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This is down to the post-war German constitution, which forbade the armed forces from operating outside NATO territory without the explicit approval of the Bundestag.
For decades, operations were extremely limited – but the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany changed that.
Deployment to the Persian Gulf and Iraq started off a series of operations which led to German troops and aircraft currently stationed in Mali, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Combine this with an ideology of being a diplomatic power broker, rather than a military intervener, and Germany’s army is still seen as a ‘supporting’ force rather than one to be feared.
Over the last few years, alleged mismanagement by former defence minister Ursula von der Leyen – now President-elect of the European Commission – has meant that key areas of the army have been left understaffed.
Dr Zimmermann claimed: “Other European armed forces have cut back on their strength since the conflict between east and west.
“But no country has run its army down as severely as Germany.
“Barracks were closed; national service was scrapped; soldiers were released from their contracts ahead of time; and so a lot of know-how was allowed to bleed out, facilities were not properly maintained and the need for weapons and other military kit was inadequately met.”
There has been serious concern over the longevity of military equipment.
The Green Party’s defence guru Tobias Lindner said the military was being stretched to its very fibres.
He added: “There are big deficiencies in its staying power.
“It’s capable of leading the NATO Spearhead force this year, but couldn’t handle it over two or three years.
“It’s already having to cannibalise hardware and materiel from other parts of the armed forces to keep it going.
“This means that there isn’t enough equipment for training back home.”