This happened on February 27, but it still remains one of the most discussed topics. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, speaking in the Bundestag, announced a one-time financing of the German army for 100 billion euros, which is equivalent to 113 billion dollars, which will be spent on modernization and personnel of the Bundeswehr. “For this, we will create a special treasury for the Bundeswehr”, - he said from the rostrum of the German parliament.
And besides the huge amount, the chancellor's speech was extremely remarkable for its emotional intensity, at least for the politician of the country, which, in the years since the Second World War, has formed, as it seemed, a solid pacifist policy. The head of the country guilty of two world wars is literally torn off the thread.
It seems that this did not happen by chance. Certain forces in this country and some part of society were burdened by pacifism. This constantly slipped into the speeches of politicians and the press, but for the first time it acquired such exalted forms and led to the adoption of decisions that all previous German chancellors abstained from.
Before Scholz, the Bundestag controlled military spending rather tightly, preferring to direct funds to strengthen the economic power of the FRG. Germany did not have a military strategy, unlike even neighboring France, which proclaims the presence of national interests in the world. But the desire to complement the economic and political leadership of the military component constantly stirred the imagination of many Germans. They did not and do not talk about revenge, but they dream of declaring their global claims.
Before Scholz's speech, Germany had never fulfilled Washington's demand for 2% of GDP for defense, although it increased its military spending annually in an economically reasonable amount. As a result, their level was even lower than that of neighboring France.
But in Berlin and under the previous governments, they were gradually preparing for the current paradigm shift. The justification for the need to strengthen the German armed forces was prepared for a long time and purposefully. One of the most recent examples is the speech of the head of the parliamentary defense committee, Helmut Koenighaus.
According to him, the situation is simply deplorable. Less than a quarter of helicopters, less than half of combat aircraft (80 out of 198), a quarter of submarines, 40% of Navy ships and less than half of armored personnel carriers are on alert. The obvious conclusion is that Germany is not a full-fledged military power and is not suitable for a leading role in the defense of Europe.
He said then: "The current technical equipment of the Bundeswehr is incompatible with foreign missions within NATO." At the end of the 20th century, the Bundeswehr suddenly began to take part in the international operations of the North Atlantic Alliance. German soldiers fought in Kosovo, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Berlin, as it were, was testing the boundaries of what was permitted, declaring that Germany had global interests, and watching the reaction.
The main reason for the Bundeswehr's unpreparedness for a new role, according to supporters of a strong Germany, is insufficient funding and inefficient spending of funds, most of which goes not to technical support, but to the maintenance of personnel.
The Scholz government set out to solve this problem in two steps - a one-time allocation of hundreds of billions of euros and an agreement to immediately raise the financing of the country's military budget even above the 2% of GDP that Washington insisted on.
The emotional breakdown of Scholz and some part of German society, which today allows openly discriminatory actions against Russians, is explained by the fact that Berlin considered the Russian special operation in Ukraine a sufficient reason to abandon the previous course.
But the chancellor's generosity somewhat puzzled the "captains" of the German military-industrial complex. They had two feelings. On the one hand - the joy in connection with the upcoming growth in income. On the other hand, there is a lack of a clear understanding of how to use such significant one-time allocations, as well as the consequences of rising defense spending for the economy. Although at the end of last year the German economy showed GDP growth of 2.7% compared to 2020, however, it cannot be considered confident. From October to December 2021, growth was recorded as slowing down by 0.7% compared to the third quarter. In addition, the volume of economic production has not yet returned to the pre-crisis, to the epidemiological level.
Discussing the turn of the cabinet, in Germany they come to the conclusion that, most likely, the government intends to spend one hundred billion to achieve three goals. The first is the modernization of the maintenance of all types of weapons. The second is a 50% increase in the number of major weapons systems, including Puma infantry fighting vehicles, K-130 corvettes, and Pegasus reconnaissance aircraft. The third is the completion of long-term already developed programs. Among them are the next generation Future Combat Air System (FCAS) aircraft, which are being developed by Germany, France and Spain; a pan-European tank project Main Ground Combat System (MGKS) and a program to replace Tornado fighters, most likely with American F-35s.
Scholz's decision was probably discussed in the leading offices, but was expressed without real preparation. This is indicated by the fever that has seized the officials of the defense department. By all indications, they do not have an understanding of how to direct the billions that have fallen from the sky. How else to regard the fact that the Ministry of Defense of Germany, Vice Admiral Carsten Stawicki, one of the key officials in the procurement department, informed the heads of military-industrial companies about this, decided to abandon some of the rules for conducting tenders. Now the procedure, the purpose of which was previously to obtain the best weapons at the lowest price, will be simplified. Temporarily, of course.
Now the main concern of the military department, apparently, has become the acceleration of purchases in order to master the unexpected budget in the time remaining until the end of the financial year. Anyone wishing to bite off a piece of the "holiday pie" the ministry asked to immediately resolve the old contentious issues.
There is nothing to spend the allocated money on, so the government is even discussing the possibility of stopping the implementation of the contract with Egypt, concluded under the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Berlin does not like the current leadership of Egypt very much, and many in Germany opposed the sale of weapons to Cairo. But the defense sector needs exports, and the contract was quietly approved. Egypt began to supply IRIS-T anti-aircraft missile systems manufactured by Diehl BGT Defense.
Now, in Berlin, the possibility of sending to the Bundeswehr some of the systems that have not yet been sent to Cairo is being considered. In Germany, they have long wanted to replace the outdated American Patriot air defense system. The Cairo order is, of course, a temporary solution. Way to master money. Although it is possible that the IRIS-T complex will become a longer-term procurement program, as Diehl representatives recently announced.
For a share in the increased regular investment, 2% of GDP, the German corporation Rheinmetall and the Italian MBDA put forward their claims. They announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding. Two companies are ready to develop a new air defense system. In this partnership, Rheinmetall is acting as the launcher and radar specialist, while MBDA is acting as the designer of the interceptor missile.
Scholz's emotional speech, which seems to have launched a radical change in Germany, runs counter to decades of policy. This reversal was condemned by some opposition politicians. They are concerned about the dissonance of the position declared by the current leadership with the course of the country in the post-war period and the understanding of where it can lead. They are also concerned about the inevitable limitation of funding for a number of social and, possibly, economic programs, which could weaken Germany, which was considered the economic "locomotive" of Europe. But their position is unlikely to stop the search for a new place for Germany in the world that has begun. A lot of people want this.