German Panzers Return to the Desert


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German army personnel have also been reduced from 220,000 to 185,000. At the end of the Cold War, West Germany alone had about 500,000 well-trained troops and East Germany another 240,000, some of whom were taken into the Bundeswehr after reunification. Germany also suspended the draft last July 1, but this was a desired measure, since the Bundeswehr wants to build a professional army.

The recession and the Cold War’s end have had much to do with the announced cuts. The German army is reorienting its mission from a tank-heavy force trained for combat against the Warsaw Pact into mainly a peace-keeping operation. But this does not account for the fact the training and quality of Germany’s military personnel have deteriorated sharply, while the armed forces have been transformed into a government employment project.

A 2009 report, composed by generals and officers and made public recently in a German newspaper, stated that German soldiers in Afghanistan were insufficiently trained and lacked both proper equipment and discipline, all of which could cause their mission to fail. Above all, the report criticised the soldiers’ training, indicating they could not even serve their own weapons or drive the armoured vehicles properly.

“The training situation of the soldiers in personal weapons and shooting control does not correspond to some extent to the demands in the country of operations,” the report read. “The soldiers generally are not mastering their weapons.”

Three years ago another report was released that stated Germany’s soldiers were simply physically unfit. The report stated that “40 percent of the troops were overweight, compared to 35 percent for their civilian counterparts (of the same age and gender).” The report also claimed German soldiers smoked more and exercised less than civilians.

“It’s not just a German problem,” wrote one military analyst. “The basic problem with European military organizations is that most of them are basically make-work projects. It’s long been known that many European soldiers are not really fit for action. They are uniformed civil servants.”

The analyst excludes from his criticism British troops who “are capable of going into action.” But he further claims European soldiers generally lack equipment and training because they are expensive.

“A disproportionate amount of money is spent on payroll. That keeps the unemployment rate down more effectively than buying needed equipment, or paying for the fuel needed to support training.”

The German army has developed into such a civil service-style bureaucracy that every combat soldier is supported by 35 other soldiers and 15 civilian workers. In the other European Union countries, the average is 16 soldiers and four civilians. It is no wonder the report called the German army “extremely inefficient” in comparison to other European armies.

So while Germany is making wonderful weapons for export, its own military is rotting from within. A major reason for the lack of concern regarding this shameful situation is that the Europeans know they could always rely on a powerful US military. But with an ailing American economy, this is now not the case, as Libya has shown. So with the Middle East and parts of Africa in a turbulent, unpredictable state, where another Rwanda could suddenly appear, America must push the Europeans for better and more combat training and weapons for their troops, so that they can fulfill their missions. Being small and clumsy is generally never good when one goes into a fight.

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  • Samatha

    This article totally ignores the possibility that Russia and now China are a joint threat to Europe. The wishful and naive thinking of the author is apparent in the statement that "the Saudis have never represented a direct military threat to Israel". Won't the stupid world be shocked when Saudi Arabia, armed to the teeth with the excuse that it has to fight Iran, joins forces with Iran against Israel.

    • eurxe

      The prospect of the Suni Saudis joining up with the Shiayts from Iran come from the land of imagination. Both sides would reather live under jewish control than co-operate with each other.

    • craig

      I was thinking the exact same thing Samantha. I see it coming as sure as the morning sun.

  • SHmuelHaLevi

    It is likely that Iran would keep the Saudis busy and Israel can handle the Leopards.
    Technically in todays warfare terms, battle tanks cannot compete with aircraft, drones and rockets.
    The F-15E's in the other hand are credible threats.
    Israel has now economic instruments in the form of resources that will change many plans and I would suggest to Iran to consider carefully the developing realities.

  • Bart Simpson

    Let us not forget that the USA is by far the world's largest "purveyor of violence", having sold over $80 billion in arms in 2010 alone. How hypocritcal – that much ado is made about the Germans selling tanks to the Saudis, while the USA actively pushes armaments to every country in the world ! The Americans constantly "decry" anyone else's sales, but justify their own as "defensive" and "sales to our partners". What a sad joke !

    • palidin 911

      Yo Bart Who is making "much ado" about the sale of these tanks to the Saudis? The only "much ado" I see here, is you whining about the the US's arms sales.

      I bet if Homer worked for a defense contractors plant, you would not have that much to say.

    • Homer Simpson

      Hey Bart, my take on the article is that there has been a dramatic shift in the sale of arms to the Saudi's by the Germans, and that the German military is declining as their exports of top notch equipment is increasing. You must be looking for something there, eh?

    • Supreme_Galooty

      I know Bart Simpson. Bart Simpson is a friend of mine. You, however, are not Bart Simpson. You a a cheap imposter engaging in a cheap and tawdry attempt at character assassination by mouthing inanities that the Bart Simpson I know and love would NEVER say.

      Don't I hear your mommy calling?

    • coyote3

      The Leopard is a superior, if not the best, tank out there. Even when compared to our own. That said, of course we woul decry others arms sales. We are in competition for a market. That is just it, we don't "push" we market. What is wrong with selling arms? Believe it or not, that is one of the few bright spots during this depression, and we are getting the benefit of a lot of it.

    • lrivero

      Bart,
      Are you from Canadia?

  • tanstaafl

    It's never a good idea to give sociopaths weapons.

  • DogWithoutSlippers

    The SA mountains of petro dollars being put to use to give
    more power to the corrupt and evil Saudi royal family!

  • Supreme_Galooty

    Saudi Arabs are vicious, terrifying warriors … if your back is turned to them. The Supreme Galooty, and presumably the grown-ups in Israel, would be much more worried if someone were selling those jolly Musselmen large passenger aircraft.

    • lrivero

      The Saudis … "Vicious terrifying warriors"????? Not the Saudi military – incompetent, illiterate, unqualified, immature, whining spoiled brats who can't even tie their boot laces. Israel has nothing to fear from the Saudi military. I spent years as a trainer with the Saudi military. Idiots.

  • ger reader

    The Saudis simply are afraid of the Ayatollahs, and for a good reason. So in this very special case I say: Sell them even more, it’s a way to get some money back from the evil kingdom and the tanks won’t safe them from Iran, that’s for sure.

  • Koldo

    Interesting to see the differences of this article, and the one in Spiegel which we all know belongs to a jewish family and therefore condems the sale.
    What it’s a fact is that German technology, is back and surpassing every other competitor.

  • Piera Prister

    King Abdullah of Arabia paradoxally said to President Obama: " Cut the head of the snake" referring to the mullah regime of Teheran, while the American President was turning a blind eye on the 2009 Iranian Revolution that was repressed in blood, torture and rape. Let's remember Neda.
    Now that odious regime is disconnecting the Iranian cyber space from the rest of the world and the National Guard -that is a branch of Iranian Security Forces- is hiring an army of 250.000 computer hackers to put Internet under control as we read on the WSJ. The Israeli Airforce could exploit the possibility of safely flying over the Saudi corridor to bomb the Iranian nuclear sites since the King Abdullah himself gave Israel the permission. Nuclear Iran is a serious threat to the world and Israel is on high alert and could become "a silent associate of Saudi Arabia".

  • skulldiggerin

    Israel will soon be the owner of all these Boche-built armaments,
    when the Islamic Arabs decide to attack Israel at the time the
    "Palestinian" squatterrorists unilaterally deklare statehood, hoping
    to pull a Nakba on Israel.
    They will be nyeted for their pains. But many, many will get their Virgin
    Of Nuremberg (one is more than engnouf to accommodate all Islamics,
    profet inkluded)
    Like 2 mafiosi who hate each other, Kom(where is buried the scumfilth
    Khomeini) & Mecca whatever their mutual hatred have one common goal
    which is the destruction of Israel.
    The Tehran regime is getting more & more cozy with Al-Keida and the
    difference between between Sunni & Shiite is not in their stench.
    They're both Islamic & Islam is filth.
    Let them all howl “AllahalakB000000mmmm ! “

  • Piera Prister

    The Power of Pictures
    The picture eloquently posted by Stephen Brown -featuring German panzers in the desert- is really scary and at the same time it is a reminder of the past which is coming back and it is still impending.
    It visualizes the inheritance Hitler left to us from hell since he signed the malignant alliance with Amin Al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, the uncle of Arafat and "the father" of current Jihad. Only a few know that muslim soldiers were recruited by Hitler after his invasion of USSR. They fought in Europe under the nazi insignia and Husseini himself, broadcasting from radio Berlin, incited the listeners to kill the Jews, whenever and wherever they were, quoting a passage from the Koran. Now Islael is ready to seize the moment, as the time left is running out, since Khamenei and Ahmedinejad are completing their nuclear arsenal. Let Israel associate with the Saudis!
    Actually, isn't true that my enemy's foe is my friend? This is a vital question, indeed!

  • craig

    I will not be surprised if Israel doesn't turn the Iranian desert into a sea of glass very soon. America be damned as the gutless leadership here has sided with the muslim world. Israel will protect itself and God and Magog will be defeated.

  • davod

    "This article totally ignores the possibility that Russia and now China are a joint threat to Europe."_

    Russia does not need military force to subjigate Europe, just withold gas supplies..

    • Dan

      Absolutely right !!