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Germany Can’t Fulfill NATO Obligations, Says Army Chief in Leaked Memo

BERLIN — Germany’s land forces cannot fulfill their NATO commitments, according to a leaked memo from a top soldier cited in a German media report.

A division that Germany promised to NATO isn’t fully ready for battle, Bild newspaper reported Tuesday, citing a routine “leadership message” from Alfons Mais, the army’s inspector general, to the armed forces’ inspector general.  

The memo increases pressure on Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, who is being confronted with the Bundeswehr’s structural problems that also faced his predecessors.

Berlin had promised a fully-equipped army division to NATO in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine as early as 2025, two years earlier than planned. 

However, without countermeasures, “the army will not be able to hold its own in high-intensity combat and will also only be able to fulfill its obligations to NATO to a limited extent,” the army chief was quoted by the newspaper.

A spokesperson for the German defense ministry told POLITICO that it generally does not comment on “internal documents” and the “state of readiness.” However, the commitment for 2025 remains unchanged, the spokesperson added. The German army, the Bundeswehr’s land forces, declined to comment “on a classified document and its content.”

The operational readiness of a second division, which the Bundeswehr plans to provide from 2027, is also considered “unrealistic” according to the report, as the division will “not be sufficiently equipped with large-scale equipment in 2027.”

According to the report, Mais wrote that even pulling together all of the army’s assets would not make it possible to fully equip the 2025 division. The report cited continued underfunding and military support for Ukraine as strains that are already leading to a “clearly noticeable reduction in the army’s operational readiness.”

On the first day of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Mais said on social media that the German land forces were “more or less bare” in view of the new threats.




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