Restart German Conscription?

I also wanted to pass along this piece by Tim Martin at Breaking Defense:

BELFAST — German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius used a Thursday speech in Washington to call for both Berlin and Washington to hit 3 percent GDP spending on defense, while also stating his support for reintroducing conscription to the German armed forces.

Both statements may raise hackles back in Berlin, as Germany continues to debate how it should rearm itself following Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

“I’m convinced that Germany needs some kind of military conscription,” Pistorius told a crowd at the American-German Institute. “We need to ensure our military staying power in a state of national or collective defense.” (He did not specify what that would look like, but elsewhere emphasized “some kind” of conscription is needed.)

I must admit my skepticism that Germany will do anything of the sort. Getting Germany to spend 2% of GDP on defense has been a heavy lift. I also wish that there were some attempt to estimate the requirements for achieving force readiness. As I’ve said before, it might be 2% of GDP; it might be 10% of GDP. They’ve enjoyed a long period of underinvestment.

As for the United States, mission accomplished. Some estimates place U. S. military spending at 3.4% of GDP.

2 comments… add one
  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    At some point, it gets expensive enough that it moderates foreign policy.

    Just a reminder, in 1990 when the cold war ended, military spending was 5% of GDP. That’s an extra $230 billion per year if the US is committed to doing Cold War 2.0.

  • Drew Link

    To augment both Dave and curious’ points, see the graphic. You can toggle to add countries. I chose UK, France and Germany.

    Curious chose 1990 – end of Cold War – but you can see that expenditures are at historic lows. You can clearly see Dave’s point that Germany has not held up its share. (and before start quibbling about precision; just look at it directionally and relatively)

    I don’t know what the right level of spending is. I’m sure we spend too much and that there is waste; but its the only proportion of a material government activity I know of that trends downward.

    Given China’s aggressive posture I hope we are spending adequately on Navy. And since air superiority is a cornerstone of our efforts, similarly the Air Force.

    God forbid we build defenses against hacking, grid attacks….

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