Germany to close 31 military bases

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The German government announced Wednesday the closure of 31 military bases in Germany as part of plans to scale back the army.

A large number of the sites will be shuttered by 2015. Others will close by 2017 or later, while some of Germany's 381 military bases will be downsized, according to a text adopted by the cabinet.

Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere was due to unveil details later in the day.

The move is part of a major overhaul of the German army, adopted in May, which aims to slash troop levels from 250,000 to some 185,000 to improve efficiency.

It is the most radical shake-up of the German army since its creation 56 years ago.

Under the new plan, Germany will have an exclusively professional force of about 170,000 soldiers, along with 5,000 to 15,000 short-term volunteer recruits.

Some 10,000 soldiers will be available on a permanent basis for action abroad.

Germany, which was one of the few countries in the NATO military alliance to retain the draft, ended conscription in March.

© 2011 AFP

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