German federal budget 2011 and German conscription about to end

The next German federal budget is available here (well, its PDF document).

Einzelplan 14 (the budget of the ministry of defence, BMVg) gets 10.3% of the cake in 2011:

Die Verteidigungsausgaben werden im Entwurf des Bundeshaushalts 2011 mit rd. 31,5 Mrd. [Euro] veranschlagt, im Finanzplan bis 2014 mit rd. 30,9 Mrd. [Euro] im Jahr 2012, mit rd. 29,6 Mrd. [Euro] im Jahr 2013 und mit rd. 27,6 Mrd. [Euro] im Jahr 2014 fortgeschrieben.

(The defence expenditures are being set in the draft of the federal budget 2011 with approx. € 31.5 billion, in the financial planning till 2014 with approx. € 30.9 billion in the year 2012, with approx. € 29.6 billion in the year 2013 and with approx. € 27.6 billion in the year 2014.)

In billion Euros:
(2010-2014 in 2010 Euros)

2008: 29.5
2009: 31.2
2010: 31.1
2011: 31.5
2012: 30.9
2013: 29.6
2014: 27.6

The government expects an economic output of € 2,447 billion in 2011. This would set the military expenditures at a rather low 1.3% GDP. Well, we're not in a Cold War any more.
The government's expectation for economic output in 2014 appears to be € 2,571 billion. The military expenditures would then drop below 1.1% GDP.

The budget deficit has to be reduced to .35% BIP (~GDP) in 2016 for legal reasons (constitution article 115). Additional constraints for the years  2011-2015 were set in multilateral agreements and treaties. The overall budget had to be planned with this in mind.

The planned budget deficits in billion Euros are
2010: 80.2
2011: 57.5
2012: 40.1
2013: 31.6
2014: 24.1
The military expenditures will apparently be smaller than the federal budget deficit till 2013.

Often times you need to invest first in order to create long-term savings; golden handshakes, real instead of improvised building repairs, setting up new and more efficient barracks and such.
The financial planning aims instead at a quite immediate and steady reduction. They really should have spent several billions immediately when the economic crisis raised calls for stimulus spending. That could have been the kick-off spending for future savings and it would have reduced the backlog of delayed hardware procurement and construction projects.
Instead, we'll feel the cuts more severely than the mere budget totals suggest.

I am personally fine with a trend towards 1% GDP military expenditures as long as security situation on the EU's periphery doesn't deteriorate substantially. My disagreement is rather about the "how", not about the "how much in total". I guess everyone with some interest in defence policy has his own thoughts and disagrees at least a bit with such a budget plan.

- - - - -

The last party (CDU) has in the meantime abandoned the conscription. We're going towards about 185,000 military personnel (the last conscripts will leave in mid-2011) and 75,000 civilian personnel.


P.S.: Let's not discuss "free riding" in the comments before everyone has read this.


  1. its a really stupid decision to abandon the conscript system. It will be more expensive and inflexible and will not produce better soldiers.

  2. ...except that conscripts play a minor role in today's Bundeswehr anyway.

    Most conscripts get crappy tasks, and few of them can be considered to be well-trained reservists when they have done their term.

  3. Think active first-line Bundeswehr manpower could go as low as ~150k total (incl Luftwaffe, Marine, Streitkraeftesupportbasis, military intelligence, &c). Moving towards strategic mobility. Oh mein Gott! Planung eines Angriffskrieges!? No, but Koehler was right - protecting Germany's and Europe's interests abroad. Sadly the linke Jagdgesellschaft in politics and media attacked him for that and I understand him leaving office. What to say in the face of rampant denial of reality? Why put up with morons?

    Not too optimistic about the slide towards 1%, though. "National Security & Defence" should be worth at least 3%. But no panic, this broader definition would include the budgets of Westerwelle's ministry, part of the development cooperation budget, and such things. Defining the whole complex on a broader basis, with military action just one of the tools in the arsenal when speaking foreign languages.

    Above in my first para I wrote "first-line" Bundeswehr. I'm very much for a strong militia component, mostly Taliban-style light infantry. And that militia should have a formal connection to THW, police and paramedics. INCLUDING: whatever is needed for CIMIC operations, like judges, engineers, medics, farming advisors, &c.

    But overall: Aim for a full spectrum European Defence Forces. The only realistic way forward!

  4. http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/downchart_ukgs.php?year=1820_1860&state=UK&view=1&expand=&units=p&fy=2010&chart=30-total&bar=1&stack=1&size=m&color=c&title=

    The UK's defence spending 1820-1860



    Never below 2%

    Its easy to say that EUrope isnt going to fall apart and start slaughtering each other, but is that really the case?
    I read recently that the interest on the latest Ireland bailout will cost its 1.8mn employed people E3500 per year, the interest, not even the capital.
    Italy owes the French State Pension Fund half a trillion dollars.
    If Italy defaults, France can either abandon its pensioners to starvation or occupy The Rhineland, I mean Northern Italy.

    Russias not picked a fight with Nato, but its picked a fight with plenty of others, and if the US drops out of NATO?

    The Arabs will not allow Iran to continue its nuclear program, and the Saudis alone are more than capable of bombing the country flat, but who knows what level of support the Revolutionary Guards have in the wider area, the entire Islamic World could go up in civil war.

    Agree on conscripts, the only situation in which they make sense is if every man and woman goes through a light infantry course, and even then, unless your at war, theres little purpose keeping them once they're trained.

  5. It's not about per cents, but about relative power. We do not need to spend much (in € PPP) if we aren't threatened by much.

  6. I wouldn't mind so much about the size of the Bundeswehr or the budget, but about its capabilities or rather the preservation of capabilities. For some reason the military and political leadership is currently more interested in turning the Bundeswehr into some auxiliary force for UN and coalition deployments akin to Afghanistan than keeping necessary warfighting capabilites (like SPAAGs, sufficient artilley, main battle tanks or battalion level fire support like mortars, brigade sized exercises, airborne antishipping, proper warships).

    Regarding the size of the military: I think the 150k-figure was just a clever ruse. Guttenberg wanted more funding and that was the only way to get even a single cent more.

    Regarding conscription: During my physical examination some sort of counselor asked me what I wanted to do (he already knew that I was going to take my Abitur and could type), I said either tanks or maintenance, if I could have done my six weeks of practical training I needed for university with them. He said that I would 99,99% end up behind a desk. Guess what, all my friends from school who did their time with the army ended up doing this. There's a name for this particular type of job: GeZi-Schlampe or GeZi-Muggel. So does anybody seriously think that the defence of our nations rests on the shoulders of young men fighting paper or the endless boredom by watching porn or binge drinking?

  7. I agree completely.

    There are even worse stories:
    I remember a fuel station on the airbase Rheine which had 4 NCOs and 6 conscripts. The small unit leader decided to fight the nonsense and assigned only two men to the station at any time.

    Another conscript was the barracks' sauna boy: He sat in the sauna and handed out & collected towels. His job was justified with the encessity to keep the sauna orderly - a strange justification considering the fact that almost only NCOs and officers used the sauna.

    The current six months copnscripts could be trained properly, but would leave the forces once their training is complete. No gain for the active force.
    Instead, the Bundeswehr trains them poorly and assigns them to marginal jobs.

    The high potential conscripts don't get interesting jobs and thus there's little to back up the argument that conscription is needed to recruit high potential personnel. In fact, it discourages many from volunteering!

  8. Sven
    But the UK wasnt threatend by much 1820-1860 either...
    (US numbers are available, but they were still fighting the Indians for much of the time).
    Anything similar for Germany available?

    Its easy to say you arent threatend by much, but the reality is rarely the same.

    Yes you have allies, but they're French, and they can abandon you if its convenient.

    LMAO at Sauna Boy
    The Seventh Shock Army must have been worried, orderly Saunas are essential to paratroopers...

    Germany just currently has the worst of all three worlds.
    It has a large conscript force, thats utterly useless, it has a peacetime budget, and pays for wartime manpower with it.

    From my point of view, it seems sensible to replace the conscripts with a proper reserve force, say 400,000, who've been through a light infantry course and are paid, say, 1000 Euros a year to maintain the fitness level required.
    I'd still feel twitchy about it and want 2%, but ok, lets cut if to 1.5%, how much of that is currently wage costs?
    Does that sound like peace time war preparation?

    I think I might do something on this.

  9. @RT: We largely agree:

    The British were probably not threatened much in 1820-1860, but they were maintaining an empire and didn't have two alliances with almost the whole of Europe.
    1% is OK. Alliance members with greater aspirations than real defence and frontier members with a heiughtened sense of being threatened can go up to 2% and justify that.

    In the end, it's more important what they do with the funds than the budegt size is.

    The share of pay costs is not really interesting because the costs of hardware procurement largely end up as wages and capital income of German citizens as well.

  10. "The share of pay costs is not really interesting because the costs of hardware procurement largely end up as wages and capital income of German citizens as well. "

    Not exactly what I meant.
    If you believe you can train and field an extra half a million infantry men in a few months, it makes sense to maintain a small group of infantrymen.
    We cant build and field the armoured vehicles to support them in the same time frame, so it makes sense to maintain a large number of them.

    You should have Tanks, IFV's and APC's enough for several armoured corps in storage just waiting on crews, and nows the time to build them.