Hundreds of German soldiers ‘unfit for service’ following missions abroad – report

Hundreds of German soldiers ‘unfit for service’ following missions abroad – report

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Foreign deployments have seemingly taken a heavy toll on the German Army, which has been already struggling with personnel shortages as hundreds of soldiers return from the missions physically or mentally crippled, a report says.

As many as 800 soldiers of the German Armed Forces, or Bundeswehr, have been deemed unfit for further military service after being deployed to Afghanistan, Mali and some other countries, the German daily, Bild reports, citing data from the defense ministry. They are currently undergoing a special program, which includes medical treatment and training aimed at helping them reintegrate into civilian life. A further 1,400 servicemen already completed their rehabilitation, according to the ministry.

However, almost 280 servicemen returned from their missions abroad suffering from various mental disorders last year alone, Bild reports. Since 2015, 28 members of the German military had to be retired early due to mental health problems.

Germany has expanded its military presence abroad over recent years. Nowadays, more than 3,300 Germans are serving away from home. The most significant military contingent is still stationed in Afghanistan, where Germany has 1,175 soldiers. Berlin also deployed a total of 1,012 soldiers to Mali as part of an EU training mission and a UN peacekeeping operation. Other foreign destinations include Syria and Iraq, where Germans serve as part of the US-led coalition and train Iraqi forces.

However, this “active foreign engagement” might yet prove to be too costly for the Bundeswehr, which already struggles to fill its ranks. Troop shortages have become so pronounced that Berlin even mulled the idea of bringing back conscription in 2018 – seven years after it was abolished.

However, the Bundeswehr still plan to further increase its numbers, which should reach 203,000 by 2025. To do that, the German Armed Forces would need some 21,000 new recruits as the Bundeswehr had about 182,000 uniformed soldiers in early 2019. And it is seemingly ready to stop at nothing to achieve this goal. One of the personnel replacement options that the German military actively pursued for quite some time involved an elaborate and intensive social media campaign aimed at German teenagers, which prompted them to join the army in record numbers.

Another unconventional idea suggested by the German Chief of Defense Erberhard Zorn in December 2018 was centered around recruiting people from other EU nations to the ranks of the Bundeswehr. The bright prospects of fast troop replenishment faced an obstacle in the form of the German law, though. Germany’s own military act, passed back in 1956, still requires recruits to be German citizens.__RT.com

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