Germany can play its part in foreign missions despite equipment problems: defense minister

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 05, 2014 4:27 PM

By Michelle Martin

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday that Germany could still play a strong role in foreign military missions despite reports of problems in defense equipment and procurement.

Von der Leyen has acknowledged in recent weeks that some of Germany's military hardware is in such disrepair that it is unable to meet its NATO commitments.

At the weekend, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said an independent report to be handed to the Defense Ministry on Monday had identified about 140 risks and problems related to Germany's national and international defense projects.

Speaking on German television, von der Leyen said Germany was "going to have some work to do" to rectify equipment problems caused by the mistakes of the armed forces and their suppliers.

But she insisted that Germany's troops could still take part in foreign missions.

"We've invested a lot in the armed forces' deployment capability in recent years, so it's important to me that we don't now throw the baby out with the bath water," she said.

"Nonetheless, that must not lead us to close our eyes to the work we have to do on basic operations."

Over the weekend there were suggestions that Berlin was considering joining any international military mission that was set up to monitor the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, and was also thinking about broadening its operations in Iraq to set up a military training center and train Iraqi forces, in cooperation with other countries.

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Von der Leyen said it was important not to start panicking, and denied that she was overstretching the armed forces.

She confirmed that consideration was being given to reviving Euro Hawk, a controversial high-altitude reconnaissance drone project that her predecessor stopped for cost reasons, saying Germany still needed this technology.

The weekly Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung said it had learnt from the Defense Ministry that it wanted "to get the Euro Hawk drone out of the garage" to be able to test a reconnaissance system for it.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Kevin Liffey)