Inside Germany’s ‘national service’ plan from sexism row to ’10 percent rule’

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun5,2024

Furious German MPs have accused their Defence Minister of sexism over his plans to reintroduce national service.

Conscription was compulsory in Germany up until 2011, when it was scrapped by the then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Young men were obliged under the constitution to serve one year in the army, or do civilian service instead.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has reopened the debate over national service, with the government keen to boost its army reserves.

Under new proposals put forward by Germany’s Defence Minister Boris Pistorius, young German men will receive a letter on their 18th birthday asking them to consider doing military service for a period of between six months to two years.

They will have to provide details about their physical fitness, marital and educational status or risk punishment, possibly a fine.

Women will also be sent the questionnaire, but are not obliged to fill it out.

The discrepancy has caused uproar among Germany’s politicians, many of whom said there can be no distinctions between the sexes.

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmerman, the outgoing chair of the defence committee, said: “In the interests of military justice, both young women and young men should have to fill out a so-called compulsory questionnaire.”

The government has plans to increase the size of the army from 182,000 to 203,000 by 2031.

But military officials believe it needs as many as 460,000 soldiers to defend Germany in the event of an attack.

Pistorius said his plan would lead to the recruitment of 200,000 reservists — in addition to the 60,000 the Bundeswehr currently has.

Not all the young people who return their questionnaires will be selected for military service.

A government panel will take a 10 percent sample of the questionnaires, before narrowing down the selection to the most suitable and motivated.

Those chosen will undertake a six-month basic service – with an option to lengthen this by up to 17 months.

Mr Pistorius sees the questionnaire as a potential first step to reintroducing obligatory conscription.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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