German military report finds disrepair, equipment problems

BERLIN, Oct. 1 (UPI) —

A report to Germany’s Parliament indicates the country’s military equipment is in severe disrepair, compromising missions and commitments.

Leaked to German media last week, the report says only one of Germany’s four submarines is operational, as are seven of its navy’s 43 helicopters and 70 of its army’s 180 GTK Boxer tanks. The German magazine Der Spiegel reported last week Germany could not meet its NATO commitments because of shortfalls in hardware.

Anti-piracy operations with other European countries were compromised last week because German ships arrived without helicopters, all grounded at home because of maintenance problems. German instructors flying to Iraq to train Kurdish forces were delayed in Bulgaria due to a malfunctioning aircraft, and Germany’s Defense Ministry is considering the rental of aircraft to serve Germany’s mission in West Africa to combat the Ebola virus.

The report mentions disrepair or inadequate maintenance of guided missiles, refueling jets and electronic jamming equipment as well, an embarrassment for a country which has expressed a desire to play a greater role on the global stage.

"I think in Germany there is a difference between our level of ambition, what is being articulated at all political levels, and our actual capabilities," said Patrick Keller of the Berlin think-tank Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. "This clearly shows to us that we cannot live up to our ambitions at this very moment."

Defense Minister Ursula von der Layen, in an interview Monday on German public radio, acknowledged procurement problems and slow repairs, saying, "Now that Germany is taking more responsibility .â € ‰.â € ‰. this shows."

German military spending tends to stay annually at about 1.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, a figure less than that of the United States or the United Kingdom. While Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed to a non-binding NATO pledge to increase spending to two percent of GDP, few expect it to happen; with a post-World War II mindset focusing almost solely on defense, public opinion in Germany tends to reject foreign combat missions.