Germany to slash armed forces by 40,000 men
Jun 7, 2010, 15:28 GMT
Berlin - Germany is to reduce its armed forces by 40,000 people, Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin on Monday.
The forces currently have 250,000 personnel. The reduction would mean 16 per cent fewer soldiers, sailors and air force personnel.
Merkel said there would be 'major structural reform' in defence but she did not say if Germany would abolish military service. Berlin recently reduced the period of service to six months.
Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg had been instructed to report back by the start of September on how to implement the cuts and 'the implications for Germany's security capacity.'
Berlin would also study whether a 'better division of labour in the alliance' could lead to savings, a government position paper said, referring to Germany's membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
Merkel must line up her own Christian Democrats and the other coalition parties behind the cuts.
No word has emerged on exactly how Germany will scale back military spending, but Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, leader of the Free Democratic Party, has pressed in the past for a timetable to be drawn up to pull German troops out of Afghanistan.