REPORT REVEALS WEAKNESSES IN GERMANY'S ARMED FORCES
By Karl Schwarz
At the beginning of May, Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping had to admit that, "the armed forces are only able to carry out their tasks due to the dedication of soldiers and civilian employees. However, peacekeeping missions have become so numerous that there hardly remains any room to manoeuvre". Since there is a limitation to the forces that can be used in areas of crisis, a staff shortage in the leadership corps, insufficient materials and a "finance budget, which is just too low," he is of the opinion that the "framework of the Armed Forces is increasingly impaired".
This is what is said in "Review: The Armed Forces at the threshold of the 21st century". It was published just as an independent commission was being established, whose task it is to work on suggestions for the future development of the Armed Forces. The commission's findings should be completed by the autumn of 2000.
The shortcomings that were pointed out in the review are not new. For example, the chapter on the German Air Force lists the following problem areas:
For officers, the age and rank structure is characterised by a considerable degree in transition at staff officer level. This leads to bottleneck as far as promotions are concerned. On the other hand there are big gaps as far as officers on short-term contracts are concerned.
Since the tax free flying bonus compensation has been changed to a taxable bonus for particularly hard work, the families of flying servicemen had to suffer big losses in income. This is seen as an unreasonable special sacrifice, because on top of this, instances of absence from home and family, long hours on duty and personal risk have increased considerably. The first negative effects on motivation and recruitment have been noticed.
Since 1995, crews can only complete 150 flight hours at the most. The available finances and technical readiness of the aircraft can therefore not fulfil NATO requirements for a minimum of 180 flight hours per year.
The Phantom and MiG-29 fighters clearly show some weaknesses, which cannot be remedied especially in the case of the F-4F. High operations costs are also a negative aspect.
The available air transport capacities (Transall, A310) are not suitable for far-reaching and bulky transports.
The Tornado has neither precision weapons nor a stand-off capability. Even electronic self-defence is inadequate.
The Bell UH-1D is outdated.
The necessary mobile command posts and radar equipment are lacking.
There are clear deficits with regard to data connections with NATO's joint air combat system.
There are many plans to remedy these deficits. That is why part of the review is a comprehensive list of current or desirable defence plans. In the section "Aircraft and Guided Missiles" the following points are made:
the acquisition of 180 Eurofighters. Additionally there will be the IRIS-T missile (from 2002) and a powerful air-air guided missile for medium distance battles. Both will be purchased in small numbers only.
further required adjustments to maintaining the Tornado from 2003. There will be measures for the distribution of information and equipment for improved electronic self- protection.
fitting the Tornado with laser guided precision weapons
improvement of the HARM missiles
gradual fitting of the Recce-Tornados with a mixture of additional reconnaissance sensors
Unmanned carrier systems with greater ranges and longer deployment will be added to Recce-Tornados from the middle of the next century.
the use of four A310s as tankers
introduction of the Future Transport Aircraft at the end of the next decade
introduction of the NH90 from 2003. It will also be used for combat search and rescue
a two stage improvement of the Patriot air defence system to allow the defence against tactical ballistic missiles
acquisition of the MEADS air defence system
logistical adaptation of the Roland air-defence system, but without improving performance
ability to use space-based reconnaissance. This will be achieved from 2010.
replacement of the anti-tank helicopters and the Bell UH-1Ds by Eurocopter Tiger and NH90. The further use of the liaison helicopter Bo 105 and the transport helicopter CH-53. They are, however in need of refurbishing, which has not yet been scheduled.
substitution of the Atlantic with a more modern weapons system from 2007
improving performance of the signals intelligence systems in the Atlantic SIGINT
replacement of the Harpoon MM38 Exocet anti-ship missiles, which are used by the Navy
reequipment of the CL 289 drone with sensors for night and all-weather deployment
There will not be enough money to realise all these plans. There is hardly any room to manoeuvre, because some big programs will already tie up about two thirds of all available funds until 2012. Without cutting a few of these programs, uneconomical production numbers and unjustifiably long procurement periods cannot be avoided.
For the Luftwaffe this means that the build-up of the crisis reaction forces will happen more slowly than planned. Furthermore "the planned provision for a stable link between the crisis reaction forces and main defence forces is being hampered. This will lead to grave gaps and deficits especially as far as high-tech Luftwaffe equipment is concerned, which tends to have increasingly shorter innovations cycles. There will be negative effects on the Armed Forces and their ability to hold out", claimed the review report. It went on, "there are no sufficient financial provisions for the acquisition of new capabilities and for the modernisation of the crisis reaction forces. The necessary scope for this can only be created through thorough checks and a new evaluation of the entire defence planning".
Result: "With the current budget the air force is steering towards a situation, in which structure, size and operations can no longer meet today's requirements".
According to Rudolf Scharping, the Minister of Defence, only a clear new orientation will guarantee that the Armed Forces can fulfil their tasks for a long time to come. One of these tasks will still be the (very unlikely) defence of German territory. However, it is envisaged that soldiers will in future be deployed to "prevent conflict and overcome crisis".
From page 64 of FLUG REVUE 8/99
In knowledge we trust!