mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Europe's Paper Militaries
German Military Lacks Enough Aircraft to Mount Ebola Rescue

Germany has so few working military aircraft that it cannot even mount an Ebola rescue mission. As The Telegraph reports:

The German military has been left red-faced after the third high-profile aircraft breakdown in as many weeks left medical supplies for the fight against Ebola in Africa stranded in the Canary Islands.

The debacle is the latest embarrassment for Germany after a series of aircraft failures left its €70m shipment of arms to Kurds fighting against Islamic State in Iraq in disarray last week.

… the mission to arm the Kurds got off to a disastrous start when a military transport plane carrying a team of instructors to northern Iraq suffered a malfunction, stranding the instructors in Bulgaria for several days.

Germany had to borrow a Dutch aircraft to fly the weapons to Iraq because its own air force didn’t have one available – only for the situation to descend into farce as the Dutch plane broke down as well.

We’ve noted before that mainland Europe’s militaries are drastically underfunded, but it now appears that, in the case of one of the main Continental powers, that already limited strength exists mostly on paper. As The Telegraph details, a report to the German Bundestag indicated that only 42 of 109 Eurofighters, 38 of 89 Tornado jets, 4 of 22 Sea Lynx helicopters, 3 of 21 Sea Kings, 280 of 406 Marten tanks, and 70 of Germany’s 108 Boxer APCs are ready for operational use. The German defense minister and heir apparent to Angela Merkel, Ursula von der Leyen, was forced to admit to the Bundestag that the nation could not fulfill all of its NATO obligations at present.

Germany’s reluctance to be militarily active and/or to take an overt leadership role on the Continent is understandable and, to a certain extent, reflects the success of deliberate postwar American policy. But there is a difference between not being aggressive and being so feeble that, with Russia knocking on one door and ISIS on another, you cannot arm yourself even to the point of mounting the kind of humanitarian mission European powers have specialized in since the Cold War.

The ongoing collapse of France and the southern European powers, coupled with the slow but steady military decline of Britain, will increasingly force the West to look to Germany for leadership of all sorts. The question, bolstered by reports such as this, is whether the new Germany will be up to the challenge.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Pete

    Well, well, well. The cat is coming out of the bag.

    Germany’s military — like the rest of those in Europe — is not even up to the weak level that it is formally presented to be on paper.

    So where are all you apologists for NATO and you neocons chomping at the bit to get involved in the active defense of the Ukraine, the Baltics and Poland?

    Take off your blinders. The game is for America to do the fighting and dying with Europe providing excuses and at best a token presence in the conflict areas.

    Brother, it is long past time for the U.S. to get out of NATO and make the Europeans defend themselves. For without the push of American withdrawal, the europeans will never do squat on their own but will instead insist that we do it for them. Fact.

    • Fat_Man


  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The entire European military establishment has been bleed dry to feed the Big Government Welfare States. The Libyan campaign would have been impossible without the “Lead from Behind” Obama’s air support. Only America still has the power to project military force across the globe. And even here the Military is being looted and down sized to feed the Big Government Welfare State.

  • Tom

    Those are the kinds of maintenance levels one would expect out of the Third World. Seriously, what is wrong with these people?

  • wigwag

    “The ongoing collapse of France and the southern European powers, coupled with the slow but steady military decline of Britain, will increasingly force the West to look to Germany for leadership of all sorts.” (Walter Russell Mead)

    Counting on Germany for leadership is a lot like rooting for a comatose man to run a marathon.

  • FriendlyGoat

    The next-to-last paragraph is well stated.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service