Germany’s defense minister has proposed shrinking the country’s military and effectively ending the draft. The move would dramatically transform the third biggest member of the NATO coalition in Afghanistan.

German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has presented German lawmakers with proposals to cut the country’s armed forces to about 160,000 troops from about 250,000. In addition to shrinking the German military, Guttenberg wants to end the system where Germans have to do either military or civil service after they finish secondary school.

Guttenberg said his proposals will make the German military smaller, but more functional in operations overseas. The German defense minister says instead of a draft, an attractive military service will draw Germans to join the military on a voluntary basis.

German lawmakers are debating the proposal, which could take several years to implement.

The plan comes as the German government seeks to cut spending. But Guttenberg’s ideas also arrive at a time of German discontent with the conflict in Afghanistan.

Carlo Masala teaches political science at Germany’s military university in Munich. He said the draft raises questions about what kind of missions the German armed forces should perform. “The whole Afghanistan issue is under debate here in Germany. It is expected that some troops are going to be pulled out to calm down public opinion.”

Source: Shant Shahrigian for VOA News.

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