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Germany Is Unable to Fulfill Trump’s Requirements on Defense – Die Zeit

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According to the Die Zeit newspaper, Germany currently has the smallest army in its history.

Germany Is Unable to Fulfill Trump's Requirements on Defense - Die Zeit

Photo: Getty Images / C. Koall

Germany has the smallest army in its history and seems not to be ready to carry out tasks to protect its borders, as well as NATO’s borders, the Die Zeit newspaper reported.

According to the article’s author, US President Donald Trump actively calls on Germany to discuss the issue of increasing the defense budget and allows himself to voice “false” allegations, according which Berlin owes NATO.

“This is obvious stupidity, but there is a grain of truth in these discussions: during the past 25 years, since the end of the Cold War, the Bundeswehr has been implementing a large-scale disarmament program. And it seems that now it is hardly able to fulfill the main task – to protect the country and, as a consequence, the military alliance in case of an emergency,” the newspaper states.

During the Cold War, the Bundeswehr consisted of 500,000 soldiers. Now, its strength is about 176,000. As the author noted, this is the smallest army in the history of Germany.

The number of military hardware also fell sharply against the background of the acute economy regime. During the Cold War, there were 3,000 of combat tanks, now there are only 225 pieces. According to the newspaper, this is not enough even for a small army. The situation with other military hardware is similar.

The problems are not only about the country’s land forces – the Air Force and the Navy lacks aircraft, ships, as well as helicopters, whose operation is very expensive.

As Die Zeit noted, after the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis and the annexation of Crimea to Russia, the situation began to change. However, no one expects large-scale changes. For example, the Bundeswehr’s plans include increasing of the number of tanks from 225 to 320 pieces, but this is still far from the Cold War’s indicators.

The newspaper cited the situation in Lithuania near the Russian border as an example. The Bundeswehr leads the local NATO forces, which strive to show that they are ready to support the allies against the “powerful neighbor.”

“However, this is just a political demonstration,” the article’s author states. So, the troops have only 20 Marder combat vehicles that were put into operation in the 70’s. When crews of various infantry fighting vehicles talk to each other during the exercises, they can be heard by “practically everyone,” as their radio instruments are not equipped with encryption devices.

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176.000 is still almost way way more then Germany had in the Weimar Republic, when the Versailles treaty limited it to 100.000. And while these days all of Europe is glutted with former Bundeswehr Leopard 2 tanks, they at least still have some. The Netherlands has none.


That is correct. We lease 12 from Germany though. Putin will tremble for the might of the dutch army.



Peter Moy

The fact is Germany is in effect just an appendage of the US. 72 years after the end of World War II and the US still has approximately 34,000 military personnel there (Source: Kronen Zeitung). From the German point of view, their small military may hurt national pride but it is under the surface, a clever policy. They are allowing the US to provide their security. Even the incompetents in Washington, DC know that they can use Germany as a bulwark against the imagined Russian threat to the planet and that the US has already fought two world wars against it and do not want to do it again. We used to have a saying back in the 1980s during the NATO REFORGER exercises, “The Germans are too weak and ignorant to rebel against their occupiers but smart enough to work hard and pay taxes. There was another one: We will fight to the last German!” Sad but true. Can anyone ever recall a German chancellor criticizing US military policy in Europe?


Only 200+ Leopard MBT’s remaining in service !! It looks like the military cutbacks in Euroland have gone way to far. Does England still have a navy left? I am very amused when people say NATO is being pushy in the Baltics with a few battalions. :D


Last time I checked the Royal Navy had suffered extensive cutbacks in order to pay for the carrier and SLBM submarine replacement programs. The joke was that by the time the new carriers entered service the RN would consist of little else.

As for NATO being pushy in the Baltics, these token forces serve the Russian narrative as well. Look at the Evil NATO ™ gathering at our borders! Propaganda is being made by both sides. As actual threats to Russia go the ABM installations are probably the only real threat, not the paltry NATO ground forces in the Baltic.

Pave Way IV

What a coincidence. Russia is unable to fulfill the U.S. paranoia about an imaginary attack and invasion if Western Europe.

Since Germany can’t afford it and Russia isn’t invading, how about dissolving NATO and kicking the U.S. occupiers out of Europe. Don’t any of you remember when American terrorists fought a bloody war so we wouldn’t be part of a European nation any more? Why do you insist on being lapdogs to the U.S. and supporting our paranoid delusions? Do your kids a favor and rid yourself of the dangerous U.S. NATO regime. You have enough problems to take care of in your own countries (and God knows we have even more to take care of in the U.S.).

Germany, please grow some balls again and tell my country to f#ck off – I’m sure you have a suitable German expression for that. The U.S. defense industry and U.S. bankers need YOU – you most certainly do not need the U.S. or it’s hellspawn NATO. We’ll still come and visit and be obnoxious tourists – I promise.


NATO has done it’s mission of keeping W Europe peace full for many decades now. What is the alternative? You are listening to a lot of noise about the ABM base in Rumania and a few battalions in the Baltics. When countries disarm like this, it does not lead to peace. Especially if they are not part of a Treaty Organisation.

Pave Way IV

NATO has done it’s mission of keeping W Europe peace full for many decades now.

Mildly agree, but ok… time to back off because nobody is invading anyone else (please excuse the illegal U.S. regime-change in Ukraine because it’s technically not an invasion). All of Crimea declaring refugee status and defecting to Russia wasn’t an invasion either. We let people do that all the time here. The U.S. has been the only sh#t-stirrer in Europe, not Russia.

What is the alternative?

It depends – who is your imaginary ‘enemy’? There is no more Soviet Union or Soviet Bloc. There are only a very narrow set of circumstances when the powers of NATO could even be invoked because every members interests are different now. That’s why we need other artificial coalitions for the appearance of legitimacy like CJTFOIR – because antiquated NATO doesn’t work. It only (theoretically) worked against the Soviet Union. Good job. Rest in peace.

You are listening to a lot of noise about the ABM base in Rumania and a few battalions in the Baltics.

No, that’s a whole other dimension of crazy that I don’t want to touch. Mutually Assured Destruction has kept us peaceful and alive for decades. ABM breaks it. The fact that Europeans are willing to be sacrificial well-microwaved lambs to potential U.S. nuttiness is surprising, but I then I never did understand Europeans. ABM is exactly the kind of thing that makes NATO so dangerous. Europe does not assent or dissent – it complies with U.S. schemes when it comes to NATO.

When countries disarm like this, it does not lead to peace.

Why are you equating the demise of the NATO cold-war relic with the ability of a sovereign nation to arm and defend itself? European armies have existed since well before the U.S. even existed. They don’t need a defense club like NATO in order to defend themselves. If the Soviet Union comes back from the grave, then we can dust off the corpse of NATO. Let it rest in piece – it’s useless and impinges on the sovereignty and self-determination of other countries. We’re not their boss.


So right. In fact, when Nato countries want to be within Nato, that is their right too. We are not their boss, right. But we are our own boss.


To the West European countries NATO is actually quite useful as it allows them to hide behind the big broad shoulders of the US, without having to spend a lot of money on defense. Even at the height of the Cold War, US generals were complaining about European defense spending. And to the East Europeans, they still have traumas of the time the USSR and even Czarist Russia occupied and invaded them. It doesn’t matter if the threat is real or not, this is how they feel. Poland and the Baltics in particular.

Tyrant Fashister

Its worse than that.Bundeswehr(West) and NVA(East) had about 850.000 men in the military wich is now down to under 180.000.Tanks numbered way more than 3000.The real number was combined close to 8000.Of those only 225 remain in active combat units.Some are stored BUT of those tanks a mere 100 are really in service condition.The reality is that Germany cant even field a single tank division in case of war.Right now i am pretty happy that the state of the german army is such a clusterfuck.So they cant do stupid things such as attacking our real friend Russia.

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