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18 Mar, 2024 22:08

Most Germans believe army can’t defend them – poll

Only 10% have confidence in the Bundeswehr’s capabilities, a new survey shows
Most Germans believe army can’t defend them – poll

A majority of Germans have little to no confidence in the military’s ability to defend the nation in case of attack, according to a new survey. Three-quarters of respondents say they don’t believe in the Bundeswehr’s capabilities, with only 10% expressing confidence in the armed forces.

Around 30% feel ‘no confidence at all’ that the military would be able to stand up to a potential adversary, the poll, which was conducted by Civey on behalf of Focus magazine, found. Another 45% have ‘low confidence’ in the military, with 15% undecided. Only 2% said their trust is ‘very high’, while 8% said it is ‘rather high’.

In terms of funding, a strong majority (69%) of Germans said the army needs more money, with 64% saying Berlin should spend more than 2% of its GDP on national defense.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius argued last November that the Bundeswehr needs a thorough upgrade to become “war-capable.” According to the survey, around 73% of Germans agree with Pistorius, with 64% backing the re-introduction of compulsory military service, which was abolished in 2011. 

Despite this, only half as many respondents (32%) said they are personally willing to take up arms and ‘actively participate in defensive combat operations’ if the nation comes under attack. Around 44% said they would never take up arms under any circumstances.

The parliamentary commissioner for the Bundeswehr, Eva Hoegl, recently presented an annual report on the state of the armed forces which indicated that the military is still suffering from thinning ranks and inadequate equipment.

“The Bundeswehr is aging and shrinking,” the commissioner stated last week, adding that the dropout rate in the military is “still very high,” while the number of new applications is even lower than last year.

The shortages in personnel and equipment have come into focus as Germany continues to actively provide military aid to Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. Berlin has emerged as the second biggest donor of military aid, spending around $19 billion on arms for Kiev, according to the Kiel Institute for World Economy.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has vowed to double the military aid to Ukraine this year, sparking concerns among some MPs. In November 2023, MP Johann Wadephul warned that some “crucial” Bundeswehr units would last no longer than two days in battle.

The Focus survey was conducted from March 11 to 13, and involved 5,000 Germans aged 18 and older.