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11 Mar, 2017 19:31

German Defense Minister plans €100mn for army private consultants, lambasted by opposition – report

German Defense Minister plans €100mn for army private consultants, lambasted by opposition – report

Germany’s Defense Ministry plans to spend around €100 million on private consulting companies and has already won parliamentary support for parts of it amid a lack of equipment for the military, Der Spiegel reports.

According to the magazine, the Budget Committee has already approved the spending of the first part of this sum on consultants that, it is promised, should make the German Armed Forces arms procurement program more effective.

The third-party experts would in particular oversee the purchases of new fighting jets and warships, according to a plan advocated by Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. It is also backed by the ministry’s administrative chief, Katrin Suder, who was earlier a partner of the international management consulting giant McKinsey & Company.

According to internal confidential papers related to the program, which were seen by Der Speigel, a pay-off of only one expert from the Ernst & Young would amount to €185,402 ($198,000) per year. In case of another expert, this time from KPMG, it will account for as much as €239,071 ($255,000) per year.

According to the media outlet, the highest salary for a similar specialist from within the ministry is €110,000 ($117,500) annually. Yet, Von der Leyen argues that the German Army’s Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support, which is particularly responsible for the arms procurement program, lacks some 1,400 specialists.

However, the minister’s ideas were criticized by some politicians. Tobias Lindner, a member of the Greens party, told Der Spiegel that Von der Leyen should have focused on enhancing the effectiveness of her own ministry’s work instead of outsourcing a number of tasks to some third parties at high cost.

“In the view of such enormous costs [of the consulting companies’ services] one can easily come to the idea of replacing the head of the Defense Ministry with a management consultant,” Lindner said, as cited by Der Spiegel.

The minister’s plan to spend millions of euros on consulting services comes at a time when the German Army desperately needs money to be spent on solving some other pressing issues.

German army lacks ‘everything’

The German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) actually lack “everything,” Andre Wuestner, the head of the German Armed Forces Association (DBwV), told the Rheinische Post daily in late February.

“[The Armed Forces] lack sufficiently combat-ready helicopters and aircraft, night vision equipment,” he said, adding that the military have “low ammunition and repair parts stocks.”“In terms of material supplies, we are at an irresponsibly low level and only relatively combat-ready,” Wuestner said.

Slightly less than a half the 225 battle tanks currently possessed by the German army are worn out in service and urgently need modernization, which will be gradually conducted over the next seven years, the Augsburger Allegmaine newspaper reported in January, citing the latest annual report of the parliamentary commissioner for defense.

In October 2016, Inspector of the Army Lieutenant General Joerg Vollmer warned that the Bundeswehr is using long-outdated communication devices that make it difficult to maintain contacts with the armies of Germany’s NATO allies.

He admitted that it would take “a decade to make [the German army] capable of meeting the [current] challenges in terms of equipment and supplies,” even if the ministry would make the necessary investments in modernization, as reported by the ARD broadcaster.

There have been also several reports about the poor combat readiness and technical malfunctions of German helicopters over the past few years. In 2015, the Chief of Staff of the German Armed Forces, General Volker Wieker, described the situation with the military choppers as “unsatisfactory.”

In October 2016, Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported that Germany had “serious problems” with its transport aircraft procurement, which may soon result in an inability to maintain the proper level of combat capability.