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.”


  1. Alarming or what? For many, Germany is perceived as Europe’s ‘big brother’ nation in both financial and military matters. This must come as a wake-up call for NATO and the German people. There’s me concerned about the UK’s defences, yet its key partner has dropped the ball. Where has all that formidable military structure of the second half of the 20th Century gone? Apparently, even the Germany Navy is suffering from no operational subs, and a shortage of frigate availability??

      • It use to field many more MBT’s than BAOR. I feel sure most Europeans believe Germany has a powerful military force. This current level of German defence must amuse the Russians?

        • In perception you’re probably right. In niche capabilities I don’t believe so.

          Historically and forces yes. Used to be very big in the Cold War. I’m talking about now. Germany does not possess SSN, SSBN, Carriers, our amphibious capabilities, TLAM, our range of airborne ISTAR assets, RPAS and manned. A 5th generation jet like F35. Strategic lift like the C17s. Special forces of experience and capabilities of ours, and non military but still significant defence wise the comprehensive intelligence capabilities the UK has as part of 5 Eyes, that’s SIS, GCHQ, and the SS. Oh and no nukes either.

          No, Germany is not in the UKs league.

          • If true, this report on current German military strength, means only France and the UK (apart from the US) will have the means to field the lion’s share of the EU’s defence? Ironic or what? Maybe we should remind Brussels of that fact if they get nasty over Brexit.

    • It is true about Germany military equipment out of date and need repairs.
      The problem is that the German Government enjoys being the bank of Europe and not there forces. I lived and worked in Germany with the Military many year ago and I was proud the the nations military but now they just seam part of the furniture with out any hart. It is time the German people spoke out and send a message to there government to support there military and put money into to it.

      Shame of Germany for allowing this to happen to a good nation.

  2. It is very worrying because how often have we heard about jointery and our European allies taking the slack?
    Not enough T23 or T45, the allies will help. No AEW / maritime surveillance? the allies will help.

    European NATO is a busted flush and the Russians will know more than most.

    • That is an overstatement. The Russians are all show mostly. Apart from their nukes most of their kit is straight from the eighties and in dubious state. Also they would not have the finances for a large scale war, nor do they have the incentive to attack Europe.

      A local insurgency campaign like un Ukraine would be impossible with the presence of even a limited NATO force that we now see in the Baltics.

      Preparing against a massive scale Soviet invasion is a thing of the past.

      It is unacceptable for the German army to be in such a shape but it is not related to a Russian threat.

      • This meme has nothing to back itself up with.


        I’ll take any number of T-90s over the Zero tanks the Germans have.
        And Russian tanks are more advanced.

        If the Russians want the Baltics, then can have them in days…. it would be over before The EU/NATO can convene a response summit.

      • Why would there need to be a massive invasion?
        What would be the point of an invasion?

        They’ve shown they can take and hold the gap isolating the Baltics from the rest of NATO. NATO can not force the Baltic Sea nor use air. They would have to fight at the gap.

        Now take military transports loaded with helos and SF and land them on Krastmala. Russian kalibr equipped ships mallet the secret SF base at the end of Boldaraja and the militart base at Adazi.

        Helos deploy Russian SF to Military Academy and Alpha shopping centre objective: the Scada network centre located 200 metres away. They also block the Adazi Riga road.

        By foot / jeep other SF take over the radio and television centre and centres of Government. Land forces reinforce using the extant track bed of the old main line to Russia thus avoiding roads.

        The objective? Destroy NATO cohesion by its blatant inability to re-take Latvia.

        Quick scenario, hope you liked it.

          • Local indeed. Something is afoot in Latvian politics with the head of the Bank of Latvia arrested for bribery and charged along with a prominent bank receiving a kick in the gonads from the US for money laundering.

            Both at the same time?

            And elections in 6 months.

            A swing against Russian money buying influence and a crack-down on channelling funds to North Korea? One can but hope.

        • Well, PESCO gets a bad press in the anti-EU UK, but should it? I think this article and the other one about the subs underlines the NEED for PESCO in the EU, to hamonise logistics, R&D, training and other things to maximise minimal budgets. I’d like to see a sympathetic article on PESCO, bearing in mind it’s stated first 17 projects.

          But also where it should go, i.e. maintenance hubs, common inventory. . From that point of view the UK really doesn’t do too bad as apart from planned maintenance and repairs, it doesn”t that often have U/S equipment.

          The state of the German military, if this is true, is truly shocking. In my mind there’s nothing wrong with having compact forces as I think the UK is moving to, as long as THEY ALL WORK.

      • Fulop

        Have you even seen what the Russians have been fielding since Second Chechnya?
        The only Army in Eastern Europe even halfway equipped is Poland and their border is so long not only will they not deploy to the Baltics. They can’t do it not without uncovering their own border. Which in the end is a indefensible plain that has,”Invade me,” and ,”Tanks welcome,” written across it.

        If you were talking 1995 or 1999 you would be correct in that the Russians couldn’t do anything in Europe. It is 2018 and due to the lack of preparedness on the part of Europe if Russia pressed. NATO and therefore the US would have 2 choices. Accept Russian control of the Baltics and be ready next time. Option 2 commit hundreds of thousands of Americans at first and later millions once mobilization occurs in a campaign against Russia. Which would inevitably spread everywhere from Iran to China given the amount of advantages that could be taken by America’s distraction.
        In all likelihood option 1 would be picked at first. However this would result in European complaints that Americans were not willing die without question. This would result in the average Joe in Texas, Ohio, Michigan, and Georgia saying “To hell with them. We can’t understand them when they talk anyway.”

        • Yes I have seen. More than that I have seen up close what they have in their real combat ready armoured battalions. The backbone of their army is made up by leftover SU stocks. They have the numbers on paper but it is still mostly a conscript force.
          Also do not forget that armor only gets you so far unless you have total air superiority which they have no chance of establishing over Europe.

          I am not disputing that they have a formidable military but could they afford a war with the West ? Would they want to risk a war with the West?

          The answer is clearly no. It is also worth a thought that apart from the second world war the Russians lost each and every war with Western nations.

  3. Let us hope that this article is not suggesting things aren’t that bad for HM armed forces after all. The foundations of NATO are beginning to look very shaky. Its obvious to see why the US have been making noises about member nations spending as agreed on defence.

    Are France now the primary military power in western Europe?

    • The grass always looks greener on the other side. Don’t be foolish in thinking that just because Germany’s military is falling apart and ours is riven by the usual flaws doesn’t mean that France’s military is sqeaky clean and ready to go. Seeing as their chief of staff publicly resigned over the state of their armed forces obviously things aren’t going well.

  4. Europe has never been more vulnerable than it is right now. Donald Trump.has been proven right in his assertions that NATO countries have been taking American support for granted and relying on that support so that they don’t have to pay the upkeep on their own armed forces.
    At this stage if i were in Mays or Trumps shoes I’d withdraw military support until our supposed partners started pulling their weight

        • Really? Germany has European fighters, European transports, European tanks, European APCs, European frigates, European destroyers and European kit. And when the head of the German Air Force had the audacity to want to buy F-35s he was sent to his room without dinner after a trip to the woodshed. What arms sales?

    • Germany has nothing of there own only being the bank of Europe is what they enjoy. That is the Government not the people.

  5. This is embarrassing and scandalous – but unfortunately not surprising. Too many decades of relying on Uncle Sam to shoulder the burden of Nato’s Collective defence. Germany is not the only European country that’s guilty. It makes perfect sense why Trump is so fed up paying for Europe and he’s absolutely right! It’s high time the Europeans stepped up to the plate and paid their fair share for their OWN defence!

    • Well you can turn that around as well. Too many decades of Uncle Sam not wanting the Germans to possess a formidable military and not being very interested in Europe being able to defend itself.
      If the world’s biggest economic block had the means and will to enforce it’s will upon other countries well, there goes American superiority. Not that it matters anymore as China is going to be challenging us both very soon.

  6. Why should the Germans bother ? They and almost every other EU state knows the US, UK and France will do most of the fighting. Why should they bother spending cash on their forces when they can spend it on R n D, infrastructure etc to bury us economically.

    • but surely they realise that uk in particular and probably france as well could not deploy armoured division size strength to western europe anymore.

      it is a race to the bottom in europe…the germans are disgraceful…hopefully a new government will address that

  7. In all fairness Poland is trying to do it’s bit when it comes to NATO. Agree though, too many European
    country’s are dragging their feet when it comes to military spending.

  8. All this touches on wider political matters so forgive a wider observation:
    Given we cannot, apparently, separate the EU from its member countries and the UK is leaving then any chance of an EU Army comprised of surplus resources from member nation states is now right out the window. Unless of course Germany knows something we don’t and the ‘nation state’ has already been consigned to history within the EU and its all already earmarked for ‘the EU’?

    The EU chickens are now coming home to roost and its political wish to create its own military force has led member states to be ‘less committed’ to spending money for some forlorn future hope someone else will fund it. Like us. Germany has played the EU game and especially the Euro for massive financial and political benefit and far better than we have. So it isn’t for want of money they have no navy, air force or army to speak of (as the evidence all over UKDJ now shows) and are even now looking to cut back on A400M orders (as they did with Typhoon) and other commitments entered into for bragging rights over workshare. And France is following the German lead with their President endorsing the ‘EU Army’ concept. The con trick here is that it is put across as ‘its EU money that will fund it’ which it isn’t and in any case will be some 15% less when we leave

    More than ever we must now as a future independent nation state look to strengthen and modernise our military capability. And in most parts we are doing just that. What we must NOT do is allow ourselves to be sucked into some EU supporting role through the back door. It is THEIR problem not ours and they must start to understand that security costs two things: Money and skills. And we are providing most of both (in the European context) despite economic demands here in the UK.

    Hammond could start by hypothecating the £13 Bn a year we currently pay to the EU after we leave, pay it into a separate fund and account for the spending elements individually: Farming, Fisheries, NHS, infrastructure and of course Defence. The British public need to see this money isn’t being swallowed up by Treasury accounting. And to make sure we know how much it actually is the OBR could provide an annual estimate of what our EU contribution would be in a given year.

    The future looks good if we can only start looking outward and stop this incessant EU navel gazing. We are hugely respected by the rest of the world (if not the EU) especially in the USA and Middle East. Maybe we should start to learn to respect ourselves far more ….?

  9. The EU is like a spoilt brat leaching off others. They won’t defend themselves as long as they know the UK and US will. The solution is obvious but whether we’ll do it is another matter.

    • The establishment will do everything to dilute, delay or scupper Brexit but we live in hope.

      I’d like to see a Anglophile nations alliance myself.

      • Despite speaking the same language the nations of the UK have more in common with Italians than with Americans or Canadians.

  10. The Germans have “effectively” disarmed. Their military capability right across the board has degraded to the point that the German state largely operates a paper Army Navy and Airforce.

    They never deploy in a combat capacity ( except tiny niche rolls) and very much give Putin every reason to think they will do nothing, whatever the provocation.

    Why the Americans have put up with quite pathetic effort is incredible quite frankly!

    This is the reason we must never again take part in a solely Western European Defence program, A400, Typhoon etc …

    We need to pivot towards close industrial collaboration with the US , Japan and South Korea, with regards new Defence systems etc.

    • You clearly understand nothing about Germany.

      The Germans were made an example of after WW2. They were made to write it into their constitution that the German Army will never set foot on foreign soil with offensive intent.
      They are overcompensating.

  11. Hi David, I understand freeloading when I see it. WW2 was 70 years ago and that is a terribly convenient excuse…

    Overcompensating my arse!

  12. David they are freeloading and contributing zero to NATO missions. That is a fact. The German army can only deploy a handful of their frankly rubbish armoured vehicles to a NATO exercise when they were asked and promised a regimental response.
    France meanwhile is NOT the premiere military force in Europe simply because it is France. Numerically yes they have the edge over the UK but I am not sure if there was a war that France would be prepared to do all that was necessary to win. They are French after all. It is not the equipment I doubt but the calibre of the personnel operating it.
    The UK should look to its own defences, spend 3% of GDP on defence and set this 3% into law. Rebuild the RN over the next 10 years, order another batch of 6 Poseidon MPAs, deliver the full 138 F35Bs into service promised in SDSR 2015. Etc etc.
    If the EU will not up their game then we have to change NATO. move the headquarters to London and let the EU take over all security for its 27 nation block.
    NATO should become an Anglosphere alliance with New Zealand, Australia admitted. I would also invite Norway, Finland and possibly Sweden to join. It is time we played hard ball back to the EU and told junkers and Barnier exactly where they can go.
    Divorce bill. No you are having a laugh, you owe us hundreds of billions £. Do they not remember we were one of only 2 nations that ever, ever, ever paid more into the EU then got back in terms of investment. That is one of the reason why people voted to leave. You can go anywhere in Europe and there are signs everywhere and in much greater numbers then you ever have seen in the UK. This road was built by the EU, this school was built by the EU, this hospital was built by the EU, etc etc. Very rare to see that within the UK.
    Close security relationship, nope you are offering nothing and simply want the Anglosphere nations to guarantee your defence whilst you invest in your own countries.
    Disgraceful bunch of ungrateful, self congratulating, bafoonss that need to be taught a lesson.


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