US, Germany Prepare For “Russia War”; Berlin To Revive ‘Compulsory Conscription’ Axed A Decade Ago

More than a decade after Angela Merkel’s government stopped compulsory conscription, the German government will revive it, although it would happen should a war break out with Russia.

A 67-page document outlines how the country wants its citizens to serve the “Vaterland” as the US prepares to send its troops to protect NATO’s eastern flank.

For the first time since the Cold War, Germany has updated its strict wartime measures. The German government anticipates a conflict with Russia by the decade’s end, and the updated 1989 Framework Directive for Overall Defense (RRGV) outlines the measures Germany should expect to take in the event of war. Ukraine’s supporters in the West plan for the worst-case scenario.

The update comes in the wake of the news that NATO is contemplating deployment of US troops through Europe, especially to frontlines around Ukraine, in case the ongoing conflict reaches Western Europe.

Earlier in June, NATO revealed that it was planning to expeditiously deploy American troops to Eastern Europe. In case of war, the troops will pass by ‘land corridors’ and will stay in European bases.

US Army At Russian Doorstep! NATO Develops ‘Land Corridors’ For Rapid Deployment Of Men & Material To War Zone

Earlier this week, the news of the first case of a Western-made weapon used to hit targets in Russia also came out, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shot a warning at the European countries against the perils of miscalculation. This has indicated that Europe is taking a stand after three years of dithering to fight actively to defeat Russia.

The document details that the employment agency will recruit citizens over 18 to work in certain fields to fuel the war effort. German businesses will have to gear up to increase defense production as hospitals are ready for war casualties from the eastern front, where a large part of German troops will be mobilized to safeguard NATO’s eastern flank. To this end, the country’s doctors, nurses, vets, and psychologists will be divided between the Bundeswehr, the German army, and civil society.

Also, the private companies’ IT infrastructure will be taken over to support the war effort.

The German government would facilitate one hot meal per day for the population while relying on secret grain stockpiles to maintain food security. The food security will be a considerable challenge as Germany will need to host NATO allies and soldiers heading towards the front line.

Germany scrapped general conscription in 2011, but Russia’s war in Ukraine is making it rethink its strategy. In May, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, while calling Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to scrap conscription a ‘mistake,’ told an audience at Johns Hopkins University in the US: “I am convinced that Germany needs some kind of military conscription…Times have changed.”

Berlin’s big step is still a piecemeal response to one of the biggest threats facing Europe after the Cold War. During the Cold War, Germany spent about 4 percent of its GDP on defense and had a military of 400,000 personnel and 2,500 tanks. Now, the military strength has dwindled to 180,000 troops, and the country has barely managed to touch NATO’s 2 percent spending target for the first time in many years.

Eurofighter Typhoons of the German Air Force 30-23
Image for Representation: Eurofighter Typhoon of the German Air Force

Germany has been able to meet the target owing to its Euro 100 billion fund created to meet the contingency. However, the fund will be exhausted by 2028, and the country is nowhere close to finding a way to expand the Bundeswehr to a force of 203,000 by 2031.

Even as German Defense Minister Pistorius’s idea of a military draft faces stiff opposition, the new document reveals that in case of a war, the German government will bolster the rank and file of its armed forces through conscription of the young, food will be rationed, and subway stations will be converted into bomb shelters.

Pistorius, on June 5, exhorted that Germany ‘must be ready for war by 2029’. Hence, updating the 1989 war preparation framework is a sign to NATO allies that Berlin is ready to do its share of heavy lifting. The document, however, also has a sobering effect as it entails that Germans ‘must be prepared to help themselves first.’

“Due to Russian aggression, we have a completely changed security situation in Europe – first and foremost among our eastern EU and NATO partners such as in the Baltic States, but also due to hybrid threats such as cyber-attacks, espionage and disinformation here,” Pistorius said.

However, Pistorius’s idea of bringing back national military service has been facing strong opposition as it requires changing the constitution and raising billions to cover the logistical costs of tens of thousands of recruits.

The document discusses increased hybrid threats in the form of cyber-attacks and emphasizes the dispensation of correct information through radio, the Internet, and applications. It also spells out the importance of relaying warning information about chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear ‘hazardous events.’ Weather information may be passed on to the military and withheld from public broadcast in extreme cases.

The Road To Conscription

On April 22, the Pistorius ministry presented a report that enumerated the compulsory enlistment of men and women over 18 into the military, a major departure from Berlin’s previous policy of requiring only German men to serve.

Another option in the proposal was to keep the military as it is but boost recruitment or to reactivate conscription and choose 40,000 men per year to serve, in line with some Scandinavian countries.

Hence, the updated wartime framework is a watered-down version of the earlier proposal. Now, the German defense minister is working towards making the German military fit to “wage war.”

While the political parties have been against the return of conscription, Russia’s war on Ukraine is shifting public opinion: A poll by a public broadcaster showed that a majority support the return of national service. It will be a major issue in the next federal election in 2025.

While vehicular and air traffic might be suspended to allow the free movement of military vehicles and tanks, other areas of daily life will continue as before. For instance, the Bundestag, or the German parliament, will sit to preserve democracy, and garbage collection will continue undeterred.

The Bundeswehr wants a force of 203,000 soldiers by 2031 but is struggling to keep existing troops from quitting. Apart from the logistical costs of conscription that require the building of infrastructure for training, living, and feeding the conscripts, there is also the question of labor shortage in an aging society.

In June, NATO revealed that it was identifying new land corridors for quick troop movement in Europe. While plans are already in place for landings in the Netherlands, the new designs would allow troops to move into the Balkans from Italy, Greece, or Turkey or towards the northern border via Norway, Sweden, and Finland.

In case Russia attacks a NATO member, the alliance has agreed to keep 300,000 troops on high alert to defend the borders.

  • Ritu Sharma has been a journalist for over a decade, writing on defense, foreign affairs, and nuclear technology.
  • The author can be reached at ritu.sharma (at)
  • Follow EurAsian Times on Google News