Germany to increase army to 198,000 by 2024 amid NATO spending row
BERLIN: Germany is to increase its army by 5,000 soldiers, the defense ministry said Tuesday, bringing the total to 198,000 in 2024, at a time when U.S. pressure is mounting on European NATO members to raise military spending.
“The German army faces demands like never before,” Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement, adding that the army had to be able to respond in an appropriate way to developments abroad and security concerns.
Germany, reluctant for decades after World War II to get involved in military missions abroad, has in the last few years become more active in supporting international deployments such as in Afghanistan, Mali and against ISIS militants.
In January, Germany sent a battlegroup of more than 1,000 to Lithuania as part of a NATO mission to protect its eastern border with Russia in response to its annexation of Crimea and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
On top of the 5,000 extra soldiers, Germany is also adding 1,000 civilians posts and about 500 reserves.
The increase, long flagged by von der Leyen, comes at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump is pushing NATO members, especially from Europe, to raise their military spending.
The defense alliance in 2014 agreed to end years of defense cuts and meet a target of spending 2 percent of economic output on defense by 2024. German defense spending is currently at 1.22 percent.
A defense ministry spokeswoman said provided the plan goes ahead, the increase would mean additional costs of about 955 million euros ($1.01 billion) per year from 2024. ($1 = 0.9494 euros)