“The first projects are on their way. But by 2022, our soldiers had not received a single cent from the Bundeswehr special fund. Procurement is too slow. The troop’s workbooks have become fuller, but the clothing, ammunition and spare parts depots have not,” states Dr Eva Högl, German Bundestag’s Commissioner for the Armed Forces, in her Defence Report 2022. This report was presented to parliament last Tuesday. “I see what moves, worries and burdens our soldiers through individual submissions, personal conversations and troop visits. In 2022, I was on the road for around 100 days and visited more than 70 locations at home and abroad.”
During these visits, Högl found basically the same deficits that her predecessors had already criticised. “Many of the problems listed in the annual report have been known for years and were already included in previous Defence Reports. Little has been done since then,” Högl reports. At the end of the year under review, it became apparent that in many areas concrete decisions and implementations were still pending. “There were no expenditures from the Bundeswehr special fund by the end of the reporting year. The statement that has applied for years to Bundeswehr procurements and construction measures, ‘Everything takes far too long’, has unfortunately also been confirmed with regard to procurement from the special fund.”
Besides delays in procurement of systems, the Defence Report also states an enormous backlog in the modernisation of infrastructure. “Too many barracks in Germany are in a pitiful condition,” Högl emphasises in the Defence Report. “If the current pace and existing framework conditions continue, it would take about half a century to completely modernise just the current infrastructure of the Bundeswehr.”
However, the lack of digitisation was brought to the attention of the Defence Commissioner as the most hindering issue by the soldiers. “The urgency of being able to transmit data and voice in a protected manner was a constant topic during troop visits in the year under review. The Chief of the Army also reiterated that secure communication is the most important task in the modernisation of the Bundeswehr,” says Högl. “According to current plans, the entire process of transferring current outdated troop radio into the digital age, which means, among other things, acquisition of soldier radios, command and control radios and network construction, is to be completed with procurement of the second batch of ‘Cellular Networks Deployable’ in 2027. This is definitely taking far too long.”
The 2022 Defence Report is available (in German) here.
Dorothee Frank, Head of editorial team