The Bundeswehr Backs Away From the Brink

Germany Patches Up Its Military

German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks at a combat diver at a naval base in Kiel, Germany, January 2016. Fabian Bimmer / REUTERS

NATO’s purpose, Hastings Ismay, its first secretary-general, once said, is “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” In terms of the latter, the military alliance has succeeded spectacularly well. Throughout the Cold War, the German Bundeswehr loyally played sidekick to Berlin’s more powerful allies, the United Kingdom and the United States. And since the Cold War ended, Germany has consistently cut its defense budget, leaving the Bundeswehr so poorly equipped that it has become a laughing stock among its allies and ill-prepared to counter territorial threats and participate in foreign missions.

Over the past year, that picture has brightened. “We’re seeing a major change,” said Michael Essig, a professor of military purchasing and supply-chain management at the University of the Bundeswehr in Munich. “2015 was the first time since the end of the Cold War that the constant cuts were stopped.” In fact,

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