The once mighty Bundeswehr is looking increasingly threadbare.
If it sounds like an exaggeration to compare Germany’s Bundeswehr to “The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” look no further than the army’s standard-issue assault rifle, Heckler & Koch’s G36. The government decided to scrap the weapon after discovering that the gun misses its target if it’s too hot.
“There is neither enough personnel nor materiel, and often one confronts shortage upon shortage,” Hans-Peter Bartels, a Social Democrat MP charged with monitoring the Bundeswehr for parliament, concluded in a report published at the end of January. “The troops are far from being fully-equipped.”
Once one of the fiercest (and most brutal) fighting forces on earth, today’s German army increasingly looks more like a volunteer fire department — last month, mountain troops were dispatched to shovel snow from roofs in Bavaria — than a modern military machine.
On a recent trip to Lithuania, where about 450 German soldiers are stationed as part of a NATO mission to deter Russian aggression, U.S. officials were dismayed to discover Bundeswehr personnel communicating on unsecure mobile phones due to a shortage of secure radio equipment.
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