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Thousands of young men have been exempted or had their service deferred for educational, health, or hardship reasons. A growing number of young men 60, of , called are granted conscientious objector status. These men perform alternative service Ersatzdienst in hospitals or homes for senior citizens or for people with disabilities. Those aspiring to become officers or noncommissioned officers NCOs are required to enter as conscripts before volunteering for longer enlistments. Only the most qualified are permitted to undergo the rigorous preparation for a full career in the armed services.

Because the West German armed forces had been so subordinated to NATO—an alliance in search of a new identity and mission in the s—the Bundeswehr of united Germany has experienced difficulty in defining its missions and justifying the need for a large and costly military establishment. Consequently, despite pressure from some allies, no German troops were included in the UN coalition that fought Iraq in the Persian Gulf War. Instead, Germany made financial contributions to the action, and some German units were deployed to Turkey as a defensive measure.

German soldiers joined humanitarian operations in the former Yugoslavia and in Somalia, but the opposition Social Democratic Party of Germany Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands—SPD strenuously opposed involvement that could bring German forces into combat. This decentralized system has its roots in the post German Empire.

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To an increasing extent, Land police activities are coordinated and supported by the federal Ministry of Interior, which has its own criminal police agency and domestic intelligence services. The paramilitary border police is available as a uniformed federal backup force in the event of major disorders. In the early s, controversy and scandal erupted over the opening of the records of the former East German State Security Service Staatssicherheitsdienst—Stasi. Former dissidents and political figures were discredited by revelations of dealings with the Stasi, whose repressive influence had permeated most aspects of life in the former GDR.

As a result, police forces of the five new Laender underwent restructuring and retraining to bring them up to the level of competency of Western police forces. Beginning in the late s, the danger of violence by terrorist groups has been a chronic problem for the police. After unification in , the principal threat to public order shifted from left-wing extremists to right-wing and neo-Nazi groups that targeted the growing numbers of asylum-seekers, as well as the millions of foreign workers, many of whom had been employed in Germany for decades.

Federal authorities responded to criticism that law enforcement agencies and courts were lax in dealing with right-wing violence by strengthening federal-Land cooperation and acting more aggressively to curb extremist incidents. For nearly half a century, two radically different societies had evolved in the two Germanys. Other necessities include expanded intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities and sufficient modernized infrastructure not simply for German forces but also for U. In sum, given the many important defense and security requirements facing the Bundeswehr, as well as the political commitments taken on by the German government, the arguments for not doing more seem increasingly dubious at best.

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John R. Deni is a research professor of security studies at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the U. Department of the Army, the U.

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Department of Defense, or the U. Follow the conversation— Sign up to receive email updates when comments are posted to this article. The real answer below all the "arguments" you listed is this: For most germans the military level of ambition only requires the Wachbataillon and a music band in Berlin for the protocol during state visits.

That's the fundamental reason politicians are unwilling to blow large sums on the Bundeswehr. It doesn't help them win elections rather the opposite , is of no use in our political culture and worst of all it could rouse unwanted foreign interest in german auxiliary services in operations without any relation to Germany. The recent wars in Afghanistan and with IS show clearly that we are confronted with a new type of war, in which budgeting is not the determining factor in the prosecution of the war.

It is clear that NATO was actually defeated in Afghanistan, without the Taliban and IS increasing their military budget, or acquiring new technological capabilities. It is common knowledge that at the height of the Cold War the US would have used nuclear weapons to stop a Soviet attack; there was no other way, the size of the Soviet armor was too overwhelming.

If this would have been just a tactical, localized war, which would not escalate into a full scale nuclear war, that is a separate discussion.

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Germany’s soldiers of misfortune

This position should be made clear today. This time Russia, with limited mobile forces, and economically incapable of sustaining a long term war, could threaten using nuclear weapons very early in the conflict. If the case, the US will retaliate, with the same question of escalation to a full scale nuclear war left open. The EU NATO members should be prepared to fight a popular war, borrowing the Swiss concept; there is no way the Russian Army will get to Paris like two centuries ago not to mention what exactly would they be doing there.


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A very limited contingent of ground US forces should be involved; the Navy and Air Force, that is a different story, they are already there. World War 0 was a colonial war fought by an European power Russian Empire with a rising colonial power Japanese Empire over the partition of China. More than a century later, everything has changed. If there is a war involving a mere billion people from a civilization where war is cyclical, what exactly are the other many billions supposed to do? Europe is not the US. Having learnt from idiotic wars building up with more arms and less investment in culture the preferred option which the military US cannot abide let alone comprehend.

Europe has the military advantage as it is. Warmongering belongs in the Dark Ages that the US foreign policy on the ground is delivering to the Middle East under the laughable moniker of democracy American style. Worse than the wild west which they seem to be stuck in.

Carnegie Europe. Sign up for Carnegie Email. Experts Publications Events. Experts Publications. Experten Publikationen. Latest Analysis Popular Spotlight. Blogs Strategic Europe. Brussels Regions and Countries Issues. Sign Up for Strategic Europe If you enjoyed reading this, subscribe for more! Some German officials seem to be relying on fallacious arguments as a convenient excuse to avoid meeting defense spending commitments. May 18, More on: Western Europe Security.