Berlin, Dec 27 (IANS) German Defence Chief Eberhard Zorn on Thursday said that authorities are contemplating allowing the country’s military to employ EU citizens in several posts, including doctors and information technology specialists, several years after Germany scrapped conscription.
Army General Inspector Zorn said the forces had to “look in all directions in times of a lack of qualified personnel” like doctors and IT specialists, the BBC reported.
Germany aims to increase its military by 21,000 personnel by 2025.
It has also pledged to raise its defence budget from 1.2 per cent to 1.5 per cent of its gross domestic product by 2024, in the face of criticism from US President Donald Trump that it does not meet the NATO target of 2 per cent of GDP.
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said in an interview that 182,000 uniformed soldiers were now employed by the Army, a rise of 6,500 in two years. Within seven years, that should reach 203,000, she said.
The Minister added the Army was now made up of 12 per cent women and this year alone one in three people applying to be an officer was a woman.
Gen. Zorn told the Funke newspaper group that “of course the Bundeswehr (German armed force) needs personnel” and the Army had to “push hard for a suitable new generation”, although EU citizens in uniform were “an option” to be examined only in specialist fields.
The media group said the government had already consulted EU partners and that most had reacted cautiously, particularly in Eastern Europe.
Under post-World War II laws, soldiers in the German military have to be German, according to the BBC report.
Parliament’s commissioner for the armed forces, Hans-Peter Bartels, said recruiting EU citizens was already a “kind of normality” as many soldiers already had dual nationality or an immigrant background.
According to the Funke group, over 900 foreign citizens were already employed by the military in civilian roles.