GÖTTINGEN, Germany — Germany's minister of defence announced Tuesday the first buildup of military personnel since the Cold War ended 25 years ago.
Ursula von der Leyen said that a "quarter century of shrinking the Bundeswehr is over." The plan is to expand the force numbers by 14,300 and that of civilian employees by 4,400.
However, while the demand for civilian employees will be met, the ministry expects to fill only 7,000 new military positions and create 5,000 positions by internal adjustments of the armed forces. This leaves a gap of 2,300.
According to a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence (MoD), these mainly high-skilled jobs probably won't be staffed due to the tight labor market. Three-quarters of the new positions are assigned to the fighting force. The remaining quarter is assigned to training, offices and headquarters.
The increase in troop strength comes in a time of a new Russian threat in the east and political and military turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East.
As a result, the German troops are deployed to a number of mandated foreign missions, such as Afghanistan and Mali.
Additionally, there are more obligations to protect NATO's eastern borders after the Wales summit in 2014. Only two weeks ago the Lithuanian MoD confirmed Germany's plan to form the core of a new NATO battalion meant to defend the Baltic country.
After the reunification of Germany and the merger of the two German armies, the Bundeswehr had around 800,000 soldiers and civilian employees on its payroll in 1990. This number was shrunk to a maximum of 241,000, lately of which 185,000 were service members and 56,000 civilian employees.