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Bundeswehr with an acute shortage of personnel – the number of applicants is falling continuously


The Bundeswehr has had an acute personnel problem for a long time, and the number of young soldiers in the troops is stagnating. For years, the Bundeswehr has therefore been trying to increase the hoped-for attractiveness of the troops as a potential career choice through forced publicity measures. The advertising measures for this amounted to around 3.8 million euros in 2008,   then rose to around 35 million euros by 2016, with the trend remaining the same. The Hamburg news magazine  Der Spiegel  now has the latest  figures  , according to which "in the first few months of this year significantly fewer men and women applied for the military profession than in the same period last year".

In a   “current confidential template for the head of the ministry” available to the Spiegel , it is said about the problem in this regard: “The trend of declining applications will continue in 2023, despite considerable efforts”. The figures listed state that by the end of May this year, a total of 23,414 women and men had decided on a possible career in the Bundeswehr, around seven percent fewer applicants than in the same period last year. In the graph, "almost all the arrows pointing downwards for the top ministry," the article explains. A comparison with figures from 2019, where almost 30,000 men and women had applied, shows the acute problem.

In 2022, a  paper  entitled “Critical Inventory for a Bundeswehr of the Future” was published under the responsibility of ex-Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD). In this it said:

“The implementation of a single package of measures is not sufficient here to break up the encrustations of decades. Rather, what is needed is a sustainable and enduring reform process.”

On the subject of personnel shortages, the inventory summarized that according to the planning specification "the Bundeswehr should grow to 203,000 members by 2031". To do this, "18,000 soldiers would have to be added in ten years, while at the same time 20,000 people would have to be replaced who, for example, are retiring due to age". Reality shows that the troops are currently shrinking and not growing continuously. Only 180,770 people are currently serving in the Bundeswehr. That is the lowest level since October 2018. "It is completely uncertain how the workforce will be expanded to 203,000 men and women," summarizes the  Spiegel article. According to the article, “experts” quoted from the internal paper therefore state:

"The continuing decline in applications will make it difficult to maintain the current high quality in personnel selection.

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