Eva Hoegl, a defence oversight official of the German parliament, has criticised the government's "lack of action" to fully equip members of the military, calling it "unacceptable".

Members of the German Air Force Regiment take part in a house to house fighting exercise, during the Baltic Tiger 2022 binational military exercise, which is a contribution at NATO's eastern flank, near Amari, Estonia.
Members of the German Air Force Regiment take part in a house to house fighting exercise, during the Baltic Tiger 2022 binational military exercise, which is a contribution at NATO's eastern flank, near Amari, Estonia. (Lisi Niesner / File photo / Reuters)

Germany needs at least $20.5b to replenish its "depleted" military ammunition, a top defence oversight official warned, adding that the lack of urgent action to fully-equip its military personnel is "unacceptable".

In an interview with the The Bild newspaper published on Monday, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces Eva Hoegl, called on the Bundestag to make funding available quickly, saying that in the event of a military conflict, the ammunition available "would not even last for half a week".

"The issue has dragged on for years now. Without ammunition everything is nothing," Hoegl said in German, adding that the country also "does not have enough" ammunition depots. 

Since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the budget for Germany's military has plunged and its armed force was reshaped to focus only on limited deployments abroad.

As of 2021, it has spent 1.3 percent of its GDP on defence. By comparison, the country's military budget was about 3 percent in 1990.

However, Germany has felt the need to upgrade its defence capabilities in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the Ukraine war, which started in February this year.

READ MORE: Number of Germans leaving the armed forces doubles since Ukraine conflict

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces of Germany Eva Hoegl (second from left) and German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht (left) attend a swearing-in ceremony for new German recruits in Berlin earlier this month. [Christian Mang/Reuters]
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces of Germany Eva Hoegl (second from left) and German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht (left) attend a swearing-in ceremony for new German recruits in Berlin earlier this month. [Christian Mang/Reuters] (REUTERS/Christian Mang / Reuters)

Slow distribution of equipment

In the interview, Hoegl said that since the Russian assault in February, an estimated $2.46bn in additional funding have been made available to procure protective gears for military training, but the distribution of those equipment has been slow.

She lamented that soldiers who are being trained in Baden-Wurttemberg near the French border received their socks only last week. 

"But the 43 soldiers who will be deployed to Mali next week are still missing their pants and jackets. Unacceptable!"

In Lithuania, she said that that German soldiers deployed with NATO for seven months had been training for deployment "without protective vests".

"This clearly contradicts the principle: practice as you fight. We need more speed there."

Germany contributes nearly 14,000 troops to the NATO Response Force, a joint team drawn from member nations. 

READ MORE: Germany suspends military mission in Mali amid diplomatic tensions

A member of the German armed forces Bundeswehr operates a reconnoissance drone
A member of the German armed forces Bundeswehr operates a reconnoissance drone "KZO" at the shooting range of Baumholder near Kaiserslautern, Germany [Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters] (Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters)

'Not attractive' to possible recruits

There are an estimated 182,000 members of the German armed forces, but in reality some units may have actual staff strength of 60 percent due to sick and parental leaves, among other reasons.

"That's definitely not enough. Too few soldiers is even worse than the lack of equipment. Even the best weapons are useless without enough personnel.”

The government aims to increase the number of personnel to 203,000 by 2031. In 2011, Germany suspended military conscription and replaced it with voluntary military service.

Hoegl, however, told The Bild that she is "skeptical" as to whether that goal is still possible given the current budget allocation process.

She added that it appears the German military is "simply not attractive" to possible recruits. 

"When they talk about their everyday life, with shabby accommodation, military kitchens that are about to be closed for hygiene reasons, a lack of childcare and a lack of sports facilities, then the Bundeswehr (armed forces) is simply not attractive," Hoegl said.

"Young people don't want luxury, but they want solid accommodation, with WiFi and showers you don't feel disgusted in."

READ MORE: Thanks but no tanks: German dilemma over supplying heavy weapons to Ukraine

Source: TRT World