Posted on January 23, 2024

Germany Mulls Accepting Foreign Nationals into the Army

Denes Albert, Remix, January 23, 2024

Following Germany’s decision to radically liberalize the country’s immigration laws, which has allowed approximately 2.5 million foreigners to be eligible to obtain citizenship in time for nationwide elections, the government is now mulling allowing foreign nationals to join the military and obtain expedited citizenship.

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP), chair of the defense committee in the Bundestag, said she supports Defense Minister Boris Pistorius’s (SPD) call to allow foreigners to perform military service.

The German army has struggled to meet recruitment goals, while at the same time, the government is extremely pro-migrant. Strack-Zimmermann said the German government must “think much more European.”

It is therefore conceivable “that soldiers without a German passport could obtain this more quickly through successful service in the Bundeswehr,” Strack-Zimmermann said to the Rheinische Post newspaper on Monday.

The new proposal would also allow recruits to obtain citizenship in an expedited process, although it is unclear whether recruitment of foreign nationals would apply to a global pool of people or just fellow Europeans.

Last Friday, Pistorius, while speaking with Tagesspiegel newspaper, spoke of allowing non-Germans to join the Bundeswehr, with the country’s top defense official referring to the French Foreign Legion.

“We wouldn’t be the first armed forces in Europe to do this,” he said, adding that the German government was exploring the issue.

There are currently 181,000 citizens serving in the German armed forces, but this number has fallen since 2011, when there were 212,000. Germany no longer mandates compulsory military service. As a result, fewer and fewer Germans are interested in signing up. The military has also complained about shortfalls in ammunition and equipment for years, which the war in Ukraine has only exacerbated.

The Bundeswehr Association was opposed to the idea of accepting foreigners when it was last seriously considered in 2016.

“The willingness to die for what is in your head and in your heart when in doubt cannot apply to a willingness to do the same for any state or employer,” the association wrote in 2016. Despite a European value system, a soldier’s identity has a strong national character.

“Politicians must be made aware of this again and again,” André Wüstner, Chairman of the Bundeswehr Association, told German news agency dpa.