| 15 April 2024, Monday |

German army chief ‘fed up’ with neglect of country’s military

In an extraordinary public outburst a few hours after Russia invaded Ukraine, Germany’s army commander aired his displeasure at what he perceives as a long-running disregard of military readiness in his country, adding that the army was in horrible health.

On Thursday, Russian military invaded Ukraine by land, air, and sea, fulfilling the West’s greatest fears with the largest invasion by one state against another in Europe since World War II.

“In my 41st year of peacetime duty, I never imagined I’d have to endure a war,” Lieutenant General Alfons Mais said on LinkedIn on Thursday.

“And the Bundeswehr, the army which I have the honor to command, is standing there more or less empty-handed. The options we can offer the government in support of the alliance are extremely limited.”

Commentators on LinkedIn praised Mais for his “brutally honest” words, many of them backing his veiled criticism of consecutive German governments that have been blamed for not fulfilling NATO’s targets for military spending.

Germany in January offered to supply 5,000 military helmets to Ukraine to help defend against possible invasion – an offer Kyiv mayor and former world champion boxer Vitali Klitschko dismissed as “a joke”.

“We have all seen it coming but were not able to get through with our arguments to draw the consequences after (Russia’s) annexation of Crimea. This does not feel good. I am fed up with it,” Mais said in his post.

NATO territory had so far not come under direct threat, he said, but Germany’s partners in Eastern Europe were feeling constantly rising pressure.

“When, if not now, is the moment to put the Afghanistan mission structurally and with regard to our equipment behind us and overhaul our posture?” Mais said. “Otherwise, we will not be able to successfully fulfil our constitutional duty and our obligations in the alliance.”

German forces were drastically scaled down after the end of the Cold War, and later trained mainly for missions such as in Afghanistan where the adversary was poorly equipped and not an armed force with the most modern weapons.

A spokesman for the German army declined to elaborate on Mais’ criticism.

“We have nothing to add to the remarks of the chief of the army on LinkedIn at this moment.”

  • Reuters