Struggling to fill its ranks, Germany’s military is drawing up plans to recruit nationals from other European countries as part of a drive to beef up the armed forces.
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen wants to recruit Poles, Italians and Romanians, magazine Der Spiegel said, citing a ministry document.
The German military, or Bundeswehr, has stepped up its recruitment efforts as part of a broader reset following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Last year, Germany said it would increase the size of its armed forces to 198,000 active soldiers by 2024 from 179,000.
Pressure on Berlin mounted again in July when U.S. President Donald Trump told a NATO summit that Washington could withdraw support for the alliance if Europe did not boost military spending.
According to the classified ministry document, some 255,000 Poles, 185,000 Italians and 155,000 Romanians, aged between 18 and 40, live in Germany – about half all foreign EU nationals. If 10 percent of them could be interested in the Bundeswehr, that could generate 50,000 new applicants, it said.
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