In an interview for the Bundeswehr’s press service, Ursula von der Leyen stated that abolishing the tradition of utilizing or transferring of usable equipment (such as the Leopard 2 tanks) to other countries would be the first step in the process of improving the equipment status of the German armed forces. Von der Leyen noted that, even though there are no prospects of creating new national units, the existing equipment may be reintroduced into use by the units or elements which are already active.
“Die Zeit” informed that there is an option of providing the Lithuanian Army with the excess PzH 2000 howitzers. This probably means, within the transforming security environment, that Berlin will limit its armament supplies, providing support solely to the NATO member states which are endangered e.g. by the Russians, and only in case when a proper quantity of the stored equipment is available. This would make it possible to provide a complete set of equipment for own units, according to the specific needs.
In accordance with the statement made by the German MoD, creating an additional, active, armoured battalion is being considered (on the basis of a unit which already has proper human resources structure), along with an “international component”, which would be stationed in Bergen. The Germans are in the process of negotiating the deal with the Netherlands, regarding a joint armoured unit. However, we should note that the Dutch have denied the fact that they would like to reconstruct their capabilities within the scope of the armoured forces and main battle tanks, according to the information provided to Defence24.com by the Dutch MoD spokesperson.
Ursula von der Leyen also admitted that the Bundeswehr is facing problems regarding the availability of the equipment. In von der Leyen’s opinion, the Bundeswehr shall be in possession of proper level of capabilities in practical terms, not only in theory. She also added that in the light of the Ukrainian crisis, importance of the quick reaction capabilities has become more essential, especially within the scope of NATO collective defence operations.
Ursula von der Leyen stated that, in order to reconstruct the capabilities possessed by the Bundeswehr, increase of the defence spending is needed. However, most of the modernization programmes are realized in medium- and long-term. The undertaken actions will be realized within the scope of the international cooperation, which is evident in the light of the plans, regarding creation of an international armoured unit.
Statement of the German Minister of Defence, along with the earlier reports regarding the plans of increasing the number of the Main Battle Tanks, which are at disposal of the Bundeswehr, may be a proof of the fact that Berlin is trying to recover the capabilities of the German Army. The information regarding the abolishment of selling/utilizing of the modern military equipment is particularly relevant here. This information means that deterioration of the national security status is treated by the Berlin authorities quite seriously.
In the past, not only did Berlin deliver excess military equipment to the NATO allies, such as Poland, Turkey, Greece or Spain, but also to Chile or Indonesia. What is more, scope of the equipment reduction was so wide, that it created limitations when it comes to availability of equipment for own units, even for the units that have not been disbanded, which meant that the combat readiness level was reduced.
We shall remember though that modernization is a long-term process that would require some tough political decisions, including increase of the defence spending. Such actions are still questionable, should unfavourable changes take place on the German political scene.