Bundeswehr recruitment rises amid war in Ukraine

The number of new soldiers in the German Armed Forces grows by 12% in 2022 over the previous year. Survey reveals that 61% of Germans support a return to compulsory military service.

(DW) In a year marked by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, more soldiers entered military service – non-compulsory – in Germany than in the previous year.

The number of conscripts increased by about 12 percent in 2022 compared to 2021, with the enlistment of 18,775 new men and women soldiers, according to data released by the German Defense Ministry at the request of German news agency DPA.

This increase, however, was below the level recorded before the covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, 20,170 women and men were admitted to the Bundeswehr.

The proportion of women (17%) was slightly above that recorded before the pandemic (15%) and that of minors increased from 8.5% in 2019 to 9.4% in 2022.

The number of women and minors who started their periods in the Bundeswehr is also higher than in the previous year. The Ministry clarifies that under-18s do not perform any kind of service that would require the handling of armaments.

Furthermore, only young people over the age of 17 who are rigidly examined and who are able to meet the criteria of the soldier’s profession are hired.

Germany’s coalition governing parties – the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Green Party, and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) – have signed an agreement that states at the federal level that weapons training should be restricted to soldiers of legal age. The ministry said that the implementation of this project is still in progress.

Compulsory military service in Germany was suspended in 2011 after 55 years. Germany’s new defense minister, Boris Pistorius, said shortly after taking office in January this year that suspending compulsory military service was a mistake, but that it was something that could not be corrected quickly.

Majority supports return of compulsory military service

According to a new poll by the Ipsos institute, 61 percent of Germans favor the return of compulsory military service. While 43 percent said there should be compulsory military service for all genders, only 18 percent voted for reintroducing compulsion for men only. And 29 percent said they were against compulsory military service.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz in February rejected a debate on the possibility of resuming compulsory military service for the country’s young people.

Last year Germany abandoned its traditional policy of non-involvement in foreign conflicts and directly supported Ukraine in its defense against the Russian invasion, including by sending heavy armaments such as tanks.

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