Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Guttenberg’s Military Reforms Approved

« German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg speaks during a congress of the Bundeswehr November 22 in Dresden, Germany.
(Getty Images)

The German Army is set to double in size. True, Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg told senior officers that the military would be cut by 25 percent. And Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union (cdu) voted to shrink the army and suspend conscription on November 15. But as part of the reforms, the number of troops Germany can deploy abroad is expected to double, from 7,000 to 14,000, according to the Financial Times.
In terms of the number of troops that Germany can actually use, the army is getting bigger and better.
Just a few months ago, Guttenberg was alone on what one newspaper called a “kamikaze mission” to end conscription in Germany.
The cdu’s sister party, the Christian Social Union (csu), also approved Guttenberg’s plans at its party conference on October 29.
Conscription will end on July 1, if it gets the approval from parliament that seems almost certain now that all of Germany’s ruling coalition members have approved Guttenberg’s reforms.
As the Financial Times put it, for Guttenberg “it was a personal triumph, after months spent wooing the conservative grassroots to give up one of their most treasured tenets.”
At the cdu conference on November 15, csu member and “the most popular minister in the cabinet” Guttenberg “was given an enthusiastic reception and heard in respectful silence as he argued his case,” the Financial Times wrote.
Germany’s Freedom and Democratic Party, the third party in Merkel’s coalition, has long called for the abolition of conscription.
“How quickly times change,” wrote Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung in September. “In the early summer, when Guttenberg first went public with his plans, it seemed like a kamikaze mission. Conscription was considered to be a sacred cow of the conservatives.”
“Who dares wins,” it concluded.
Earlier this month Guttenberg said that the military should expand its role to also protect Germany’s economic interests.