Neitzel misses reforms: military historians dissatisfied with Pistorius

Neitzel misses reforms
Military historians dissatisfied with Pistorius

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The Potsdam military historian Neitzel does not give Defense Minister Pistorius a good report. If the Russians were to attack Lithuania, the Bundeswehr soldiers stationed there would only be able to die with dignity. The overdue reforms took far too long to arrive.

The military historian Sönke Neitzel, a professor at the University of Potsdam, has complained that the Bundeswehr is not sufficiently combat-ready and that no fundamental reforms have taken place under the new Social Democratic Defense Minister Boris Pistorius. “At least we can no longer rule out that the Bundeswehr will have to fight,” he told the editorial network Germany (RND). In the event of Donald Trump’s second term as US President and a possible erosion of the NATO assistance obligation, there would be a real danger for the soldiers stationed in Lithuania, Neitzel continued. “The Bundeswehr would of course fight, but at the moment they could probably only prove that they know how to die with decency,” he said.

Lithuania is currently “defended by 16 German Leopard 2 tanks,” explained Neitzel. Vilnius is only 30 kilometers from the Belarusian border. Neitzel outlined the following scenario to the RND: “Trump would possibly weaken Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which stipulates the obligation to provide mutual assistance. This would no longer make it clear how he would react. The Russians would then move 30 kilometers away from the Belarusian one March to the border to Vilnius to see: What is the West doing? Who wants to rule that out.” The military historian concluded that the Bundeswehr must therefore become combat-ready.

“We have to pick up the pace”

“One thing is certain: there is still plenty of room for improvement in the Bundeswehr in all four areas – structures, armaments, personnel and mindset. And we have not seen any fundamental reforms so far,” added Neitzel. Pistorius’ word about war capability is important, but the Bundeswehr also has to do its homework. “We have to pick up the pace.”

The military historian spoke out in favor of introducing compulsory military service based on the Swedish model, where an entire class is drafted and only a part is enlisted. “That would at least ensure that the number of staff does not slide any further. And it will slide if no countermeasures are taken.”

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