Europe

Germany announces 100m-euro makeover for Bundeswehr

  • 4 June 2014
  • From the section Europe
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen meets children at the opening of an army nursery in Munich, 12 May
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen meeting children at the opening of an army nursery in Munich last month

The German army is to spend 100m euros (£81m; $136m) on making itself a more attractive employer, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen has said.

She set out plans for better childcare facilities, new furniture, better internet access in barracks and more flexible working hours for some.

The five-year plan will also see extra computers and an easing of the practice of moving service people around.

She said the Bundeswehr (army) needed to compete with civilian employers.

German special forces at a display in Eckernfoerde, Schleswig-Holstein, in April

"We want the best," Mrs von der Leyen was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying. "People who are young and qualified have a multitude of offers today... and they choose the employer who, among other things, makes the most interesting offers."

Germany abandoned conscription three years ago and is aiming to recruit about 60,000 young applicants a year, she said.

Critics accuse the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) minister, who is seen as a potential successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, of neglecting more important areas of investment, such as armour development.

Retired General Harald Kujat, once Germany's top military officer and chairman of the Nato Military Committee, said last month that the plans appeared to have been "drawn up by people who don't know the Bundeswehr".

"Rather than kindergartens, it would much more helpful to a soldier's family if they knew that everything is being done for his safety in deployment," he told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

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