Germany and Europe "cannot protect themselves" without U.S., says defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer

​The most important ally in security and defence policy was and still is the United States of America, and they will remain so for the foreseeable future. Without the nuclear and conventional capabilities of the U.S., Germany and Europe cannot protect themselves. These are the sobering facts.

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer

Speaking on Tuesday at a German military university in Hamburg, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said that while she agrees with the goal of European strategic autonomy, she believes the concept “goes too far if it nurtures the illusion that we could ensure Europe's security, stability and prosperity without NATO and the U.S."

Germany's contribution to NATO in 2019 was €47,878, some 1.3% of GDP, and falling far short of the 2% agreed in 2004.

This situation has persisted for some time, and was a major factor in Donald Trump's planned withdrawal of almost 10,000 troops US from Germany: something that would have a serious impact on local economies in those areas that are home to US military bases.

Kramp-Karrenbauer believes Germany should shoulder 10% of the alliance's running costs.

"Europe must demonstrate to the U.S. that it’s not just a taker, but also a giver. We have to acknowledge that, for the foreseeable future, we will remain dependent. But at the same time, we must also realise that we need to spend and do a lot more to keep the peace, defend liberty, strengthen our values and reinforce the rules that we believe should be in force around the globe."

The state of Germany's own defences are somewhat parlous. In mid-2018 just 10 of the Luftwaffe’s then 128 Eurofighter Typhoons were available for operations. Just 26 of the country's 93 Tornado fighter-bombers were ready.

The shortage of Typhoons and Tornadoes made it impossible for meet another NATO obligation, to maintain 82 fighters at a high state of readiness.

Similar situations are reported regarding helicopters and armoured vehicles, and at one point not one of Germany's six submarines was able to put to sea due to shortages of spare parts.

A report published earlier this year by Hans-Peter Bartels, armed forces commissioner for the German Bundestag, stated that despite budget increases, Germany’s armed forces have “too little materiel, too few personnel and too much bureaucracy."

Image: AKK_defense germany.jpg © Bundeswehr/Sebastian Wilke

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

Gary's latest book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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