Defense: "Hardly anything ordered": ammunition crisis in the Bundeswehr

Criticism is growing because of the sluggish start of full equipment for the Bundeswehr: So far, the federal government has hardly ordered any ammunition, weapons and equipment, although companies have made advance payments, said the general manager of the Federal Association of the German Security and Defense Industry (BDSV), Hans Christoph Atzpodien German Press Agency in Berlin.

Defense: "Hardly anything ordered": ammunition crisis in the Bundeswehr

Criticism is growing because of the sluggish start of full equipment for the Bundeswehr: So far, the federal government has hardly ordered any ammunition, weapons and equipment, although companies have made advance payments, said the general manager of the Federal Association of the German Security and Defense Industry (BDSV), Hans Christoph Atzpodien German Press Agency in Berlin.

He rejected warnings from SPD chairman Lars Klingbeil, who had brought up procurement abroad in the ARD program "Report from Berlin" - a kind of threat, so to speak.

On the other hand, the Union in the Bundestag accused Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht and Chancellor Olaf Scholz (both SPD) of inaction, when the money was provided with 100 billion special debt. On Monday, a meeting "at official level" with representatives of the armaments industry was on the agenda in the chancellery, but there was no further communication about it, as government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.

Klingbeil is "pretty wrong," said Atzpodien. Immediately after the Chancellor's government declaration on February 27, the Ministry of Defense called on 250 companies in a video link to mobilize all possibilities to make the Bundeswehr "ready for combat" as quickly as possible. Within a week, the companies submitted offers for necessary spare parts, ammunition and other goods worth around 10 billion euros.

So far no notable deals with companies

"In the following weeks and months, however, hardly anything could be ordered because the regime of "provisional budget management" still applied in the federal government," said Atzpodien. Large companies as well as small and medium-sized companies have decided "to make advance payments at their own risk in view of the urgency". A large German company has almost doubled its capacity and offered production batches worth around 700 million euros for ammunition and vehicles, "without there having been any significant deals so far". A medium-sized company ordered input material at its own risk, and then the procurement order went abroad.

Lambrecht started with a big announcement. "Helicopters that don't fly and guns that don't hit the target have often been the subject of ridicule," she said, emphasizing that "a very tough job" had to be drilled. She wants to thoroughly modernize the procurement system, more flexible budget management, changed procurement law and more efficiency. Lambrecht: "My saying is always: If it were easy, others would do it."

Union faction vice Johann Wadephul accused her of inaction. "No army in the world can be deployed without sufficient ammunition. It is therefore an incredible failure that Minister Lambrecht has apparently done nothing to end the Bundeswehr's ammunition crisis," he said. The chancellery is now trying to hold a meeting "in which neither the chancellor nor the minister seem to be attending."

Ammunition worth 20 to 30 billion euros is missing

The FDP politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, chairwoman of the defense committee, accused him of ignorance and previous failures in the ministry, which had been run by the Union since 2005. "As a CDU member of parliament, Mr. Wadephul should know better. In 2015, a year after the attack on the Donbass, the Union budgeted 296 million euros for ammunition. Today, 1.125 billion euros are available for this purpose." Weapons depots would have to be rebuilt first.

According to the Bundeswehr Association, ammunition worth 20 to 30 billion euros is missing. The problem has been known for years, and the appointment at the Chancellery is actually too late, said Chairman André Wüstner in an interview with RTL / ntv. It is a pity that the Chancellery has to take care of it. "Actually, you could have started earlier," says Wüstner.

Greens leader Omid Nouripour said that ammunition was being discussed in the chancellery was very welcome. "It is more than obvious that our partners in Ukraine also need help with ammunition," he said. And the situation must also improve in the Bundeswehr, beyond accusations between industry and the Ministry of Defence. Nouripour: "If I see it correctly, the Bundeswehr currently has enough ammunition for two days in an emergency. And of course that's absolutely not enough. And that has to change very, very quickly."

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