Berlin, Germany: A critical shortage of medical and tech specialists could force the German military to recruit from other European Union countries.
The German military has reached out to Poland and the Czech Republic as it looks to add 21,000 personnel by 2025. The inquiries met a lukewarm response in Warsaw and Prague amid concerns Germany could steal its best and most qualified prospects.
Non-German recruits would have to demonstrate fluency in the language, pledge loyalty to the state and present a certificate of good standing by the police.
Germany’s center-left Social Democratic Party wants the foreign soldiers to be offered citizenship so it doesn’t become a mercenary army.
“If citizens of other countries are accepted, without the promise of getting a German passport, the Bundeswehr risks becoming a mercenary army,” SPD defense expert Karl Heinz Brunner told the Augsburger Allgemeine in July.
Christian Social Union defense spokesman Florian Hahn said trust could also be a concern.
“Using the framework of European liberalism, a modern model could be developed here,” Hahn said. “However, a certain level of trust with every solider must be guaranteed.”
German Army General Inspector Eberhard Zorn said Berlin already has soldiers with dual citizenship and immigrant backgrounds. To get “suitable new generation,” the armed forces has to look in every direction, he said.
Part of the problem is that Germany ended conscription and suffers from a lack of funding.
Officials said the German army has added 6,500 troops in the past two years and was on target to reach its goal for 2025. One in three officer applicants were female this year, and women make up 12 percent of the army, they noted.