Germany eyes cutting military by 40,000: defence minister

24th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Germany is considering reducing the size of its military by 40,000 personnel or 20 percent in order to ease pressure on government coffers, its defence minister said in an interview on Thursday.

"The chancellor has given me the mission of developing proposals by the autumn," Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg told the Handelsblatt newspaper. "This includes getting by with up to 40,000 fewer professional military personnel."

The current structures of the military "no longer necessarily fit with today's realities or the challenges of the future," he added, accusing some of being stuck in a "1989" Cold War mindset.

According to official figures, NATO member Germany has around 187,000 professional military personnel and almost 63,000 conscripts. Berlin recently cut the length of compulsory military service to six months from nine months.

Zu Guttenberg came under fire from within his own conservative bloc earlier this month for suggesting that conscription should be phased out altogether, reportedly prompting him to threaten to resign.

"At the top of the government, nothing is off-limits," he told Handelsblatt.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is looking to cut spending wherever it can in order to comply with a new constitutional requirement for Germany to have a balanced budget by 2016.

Earlier this month Merkel unveiled more than 80 billion euros (98 billion dollars) worth of cuts, but much of her plans on where exactly money will be saved remain vague.

© 2010 AFP

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