The German military is under-equipped to take on its upcoming role as leader of NATO’s Russian-aimed Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, a leaked document shows.
The Bundeswehr is due to take over leadership of NATO’s multinational Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) at the start of next year, but doesn’t have enough tanks, the Defense Ministry document said.
Specifically, the Bundeswehr’s ninth tank brigade in Münster only has nine operational Leopard 2 tanks — even though it promised to have 44 ready for the VJTF — and only three of the promised 14 Marder armored infantry vehicles.
The paper also revealed the reason for this shortfall: a lack of spare parts and the high cost and time needed to maintain the vehicles. It added that it was also lacking night-vision equipment, automatic grenade launchers, winter clothing and body armor.
The German air force is also struggling to cover its NATO duties, the document revealed. The Luftwaffe’s main forces — the Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jets and its CH-53 transport helicopters — are only available for use an average of four months a year — the rest of the time the aircraft are grounded for repairs and rearmament.
“The state for all part-time forces are similarly worrying,” Hans-Peter Bartels, parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces, told Die Welt. Opposition politicians blamed Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen for allowing the military to deteriorate.
Von der Leyen should “ask herself what she’s been doing for the last legislative period,” Green party defence spokesman Tobias Lindner said in a statement.
“Apparently it is politically more opportune to constantly announce armament intentions and trend reversals, rather finally addressing the problems of spare parts and maintenance. Von der Leyen is fully and totally responsible for the current problems.”