With only 579 functional bomb shelters in Germany, the government is counting on its citizens to convert their own homes into "fallout" shelters, setting up their own reinforced shelters in places such as basements and garages, in case a major war breaks out in Europe. Also, Bild quoted the head of the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance Ralph Tiesler in saying that building new shelters by the government is "no longer feasible" due to time constraints.
By April, the ministry is set to complete work on the classified "Operational Plan" (OPLAN), the newspaper indicated in the report. As per the draft document, Germany is seen as a "transit country" that plays a crucial role in the delivery of weapons and equipment, rather than just a state with an active frontline. So, soldiers would be tasked with securing key highways, railway stations and ports. The government also now relies on its citizens to step in and cover some duties typically assigned to the military and police, including the protection of power plants.
The preparations come amid a threat rooted in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the German leadership is looking into ways to boost its arms and increase the size of the Bundeswehr. A secret document allegedly indicated that the German Armed Forces are preparing for a potential hybrid attack by Russia on NATO's eastern flank as early as February. The confidential document reportedly detailed how a conflict between Russian President Vladimir Putin's army and NATO might arise, with events unfolding month by month. The culmination involves the deployment of hundreds of thousands of NATO soldiers and the start of the war in the summer of 2025.
However, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, who has frequently called for Germany to become "war ready" since becoming defense minister a year ago, warned again earlier in the month that Russia could attack a NATO country but "within five to eight years." He later somewhat adjusted his assessment, telling the media outlet on Friday that at the moment, he "doesn't see any danger of a Russian attack on NATO territory or any NATO partner country." However, he stressed that this is just a "snapshot" of the current situation and there is really no way of knowing how things would turn out in the future.
Meanwhile, Russia has repeatedly accused NATO of fearmongering and stoking tensions in Europe. The head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service Sergey Naryshkin recently dismissed the claims that Moscow is planning an attack on NATO as "informational warfare." (Related: Hungarian publicist: Insistence that Russia will attack Germany is Berlin's scaremongering tactic to hide its incompetence.)
The German defense minister also announced that the country is considering allowing residents without German citizenship to join the military to raise troop numbers from 181,000 to 203,000 by 2031.
A trend like this is seen to have been going on everywhere else in the world. Capitals around the continent are debating whether their militaries are fit for modern warfare and the threats posed by countries such as Russia.
The army has a chronic workforce shortage, with 20,000 new recruits needed every year to maintain current numbers. A job in the military does not have the kudos in Germany that it does elsewhere, owing to the country’s wartime past.
In the United States military, where people can hope to gain citizenship in return for service, participants would be rewarded with a passport. Moreover, the United Kingdom’s military Chief of Staff Gen Patrick Sanders said steps should be taken to place society on a war footing and that the public should be prepared to take up arms against Russia. The U.K. Defense Ministry quickly dismissed his comments, insisting there would be no return to conscription, which Britain abolished in 1960. In Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Baltic nations, preparations are already well underway to deal with a potential Russian attack.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gen Alexander Sollfrank, the head of NATO troops in the southern German city of Ulm, who would be responsible for coordinating the movements of European troops in the event of an attack on a NATO member, said the German military needed not only resources but also "the visible resolve to deploy them."
"Credible deterrence requires preparation for war and needs to include the population," Sollfrank said in an annual State of Security speech on Wednesday. Markus Soder, the leader of Bavaria and head of the conservative Christian Social Union, said on Wednesday that Germany needed "soldiers capable of fighting on the front."
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