Germany to close military bases, reduce army

Germany to close military bases, reduce army
# 26 October 2011 23:13 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Wednesday 31 military bases are to be shut down while other dozens face severe personal cuts, the country’s largest military scale-back since World War II, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

De Maiziere told reporters that the German cabinet has agreed to close 31 military bases permanently, located across 10 of the country’s 16 states, six of them with more than 1,000 personnel. Most of the sites will be shut down by 2015, while others will close by 2017 or later.

A further 90 bases will see "significant" soldering job cuts, with 33 of them left with fewer than 15 soldiers or civilian contractors, de Maiziere said.

Under the Defense Ministry plan, it will reduce its military personnel from some 250,000 to no more than 185,000, of which 5,000 to 15,000 will be short-term voluntary recruits. Civilian staffs will be cut from 76,000 to 55,000.

The reshaping will improve the efficiency of the army, making it "be able to deploy in an entire range of responsibilities," including purely stability missions, missions in armed conflicts and high-intensity combat missions, de Maiziere said.

Given close ties between military bases and local community, observers believed that the military shrinking would hit some regions’ economy. In the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, up to eight bases will be closed, affecting nearly 10,000 positions. In Bavaria, the lost military jobs surged to around 20,000.

"I am angry (for the cut) in the highest degree. This is a serious blow to the region," Manfred Fehr, Mayor of Rotenburg an der Fulda in Hesse state told German news television N-tv.

Harald Stehnken, Mayor of Schwanewede in Lower Saxony, said that Companies and associations that are established to sell goods and services to bases would suffer a lot, and the economic impact of closure will be immense.

"I will tell Mr. de Maiziere to explain why our bases will be closed and not others," Stehnken said.

German media said that some local groups are expected to ask for compensation or financial aid to the regions after many soldier’s leaving.

Germany has abolished decade-long conscription since March, also as a part of military reform.