Personnel strength of the german armed forces shrinks

Image: f. R.

At present, the bundeswehr is advertising for the development of "digital forces", because germany must also be defended in cyberspace

Everyone will have noticed that the bundeswehr is conducting a massive advertising campaign in the cities to find people to build up the planned cyber command. Last year, defense minister von der leyen had a "daily order" spent to provide the bundeswehr "to make the bundeswehr fit for the future in cyber space and to enable it to successfully conduct operations in the entire information space".

Although already in place, the activities are to be expanded in the area of cyber/it "cyber/it" bundled and the "digital forces" be increased with a budget of one billion euros. Where it comes to waging cyberwar, not only will defense be expanded, but digital or networked warfare and cyberattack capabilities must also be developed. The bundeswehr is now looking for 1500 it experts, or 800 "it soldiers" and 700 military or civilian it administrators, and there are also places in it degree programs. The problem, as with other jobs in the bundeswehr, is to convince people to join the professional army and to adapt to the norms of behavior and hierarchies that continue to be used here. The bundeswehr announced that new surveys had shown, "that the image of the soldier’s profession has risen significantly over the past year".

To include a department "cyber and information space" to be set up in the ministry, which, according to information from der spiegel, will comprise from 1. October with 130 men or women, the defense minister appoints a manager from the private sector. Thyssenkrupp manager klaus-hardy muhleck, an electrical engineer and currently chief information officer, is the man chosen to restructure the bundeswehr and make it cyber-ready, as an "capability increase for cyber operations" necessary. In 2017, a general will take over, with the command to be increased to 300 men/women, and the department to have 13 men/women.500 soldiers.

Difficulties the pentagon also has with this, other armies also find it hard to compete with private industry and people who do not appreciate military discipline. One thinks about how to change the working conditions and, above all, the recruitment requirements. It experts are not always so physically fit that they pass the aptitude tests. Perhaps they are also too fat. It doesn’t matter if they work sitting in front of the computer or if they are. Fight, but for this they had to "it soldiers" be classified differently. But even for them the basic fitness test (bft) is still foreseen.

Meanwhile, the bundeswehr is trying to upgrade the activity. Now it’s not just germany that’s being defended geographically in afghanistan or in mail or wherever, but, the slogan goes: "germany’s freedom is also defended in cyberspace". And the german armed forces have been advised by the advertising experts to make the soldier’s activity stand out against everything else that can be done in front of the screens and beyond them in real life and probably also on the political stage: "do what really pays". As really pays now not only to defend with weapons germany’s freedom abroad or. The bundeswehr is not just about fighting selected enemies, but also about operating in cyberspace, i.E. In the virtual world: "lan party instead of campfire". The computer game kids are also ennobled, who now know that they are training what really pays.

However, the bundeswehr wants to spread optimism. So it reports euphorically: "for school students, the bundeswehr is already one of germany’s most popular employers; for engineers, it’s on its way there: for the first time, the trendence graduate barometer 2016 ranks the bundeswehr among germany’s 30 most popular employers in the technology sector." in a press release in march, the company announced that in 2015 it had recruited 105.000 applicants "about 25.000 men and women hired".

It sounds as if the bundeswehr has been overrun. But this is a false impression: "in the armed forces, only around 177,000 of the 185.000 of the planned 185.000 positions filled. And the german bundestag’s commissioner for military affairs states in his current report: "despite intensive efforts to recruit personnel, the bundeswehr has considerable to alarming personnel problems in some areas of deployment and careers", andreas folsing wrote on telepolis recently (die bundeswehr auf personalalsuche). 185.000 are planned; in view of increased missions abroad, the defense minister also spoke of an increase in the target, for example from 5.000 more (the bundeswehr should become rougher because of foreign missions). This is why it is not only the afd that is considering the reintroduction of compulsory military service – or even that non-germans could also serve as soldiers.

The latest figures on the personnel strength of the bundeswehr make it clear that for the time being the attractive employer is not on the upswing. It is not clear whether this is due to the requirements of the bundeswehr, including fitness, or the unwillingness or quality of those who apply at all. What is certain, however, is that according to the bundeswehr, only 177.077 are actively employed there. The number "digital forces" it is also not clear from this. Apparently at least 8000 soldiers are missing.

Thomas wiegold has been pointing out for a long time that the bundeswehr regularly reports the number of personnel, but prevents us from following the trend. This could have a reason, because if it was always going up, it would be rather stupid to delete the previous numbers. It is only good that wiegold collects the numbers. From him we know that the number of personnel is continuously decreasing. In february, the number of personnel was still 178.171. Well, one could say, slightly less. In january, 178.573 soldiers, more than in december 2015. But beyond such fluctuations, from january 2013 to the end of december 2015, the personnel strength shrank by 14.800 soldiers between january 2013 and the end of december 2015.

Whether it will now increase with a thyssenkrupp manager with defense in cyberspace may be doubted, especially with the fubvolk sent to mali or afghanistan or perhaps soon libya. Heroic may be more likely to be those who go to syria or libya as jihadists.

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