NATOSource is proudly sponsored by EADS North America
- Congo (DRC)
- Czech Republic
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Taiwan (ROC)
From Alice Baghdjian, Reuters: Voluntary military service has exceeded expectations in Germany, which continues to struggle to define its international and military role in the historical wake of past aggression.
Since its introduction in July 2011, around 9,000 Germans are estimated to have volunteered in the scheme - almost double what the government had estimated.
At the Hans-Joachim von Zieten barracks in Beelitz, a run-down east German town whose asparagus harvest is hailed as the highlight of the municipal calendar, all 140 places for volunteers have been filled every quarter.
Fears that scrapping the decades-old draft for male school leavers would leave the army desperately understaffed have proved unfounded, said Lt. Col. Boris Nannt, commander of Beelitz and the logistics battalion based there.
Despite a shaky start - the national drop-out rate was 24 percent in the first six months - Nannt said he had not experienced any recruitment problems.
"I think it's fair that if people come to the army voluntarily they should be able to leave. But the people who stay - the larger percentage - are tip-top," he said.
"The big difference is that they want to be here and that's more important to me as a commander," he said. . . .
Under the last version of the draft, first introduced in West Germany in 1957, young men had faced compulsory service of six months. Now, as then, recruits who decide to extend their period of service to 18 months or more open themselves up to the possibility of serving in war zones.
With over 5,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, Germany is the third largest contributor of troops to the NATO-led force there, and has suffered 52 deaths since 2001.
Beelitz will send 300 soldiers to Afghanistan in October - the third time the battalion has deployed troops to the country.
Hassan Ahmad El-Hassan, 20, rings his mum every Thursday to ask what she will be cooking when he comes home at weekends.
As a Muslim, El-Hassan cannot eat the meat served in the mess, but he said this was a minor inconvenience.
Not only is he planning to extend his stay in the army, he would also be willing to serve in Afghanistan.
"They (the Taliban) are dragging my religion through the mud. That's why there's no question that I'd go out there because freedom should be the same for everybody," he said.
El-Hassan, who was born in Berlin to Lebanese parents, said his decision to sign up stemmed from his gratitude to the country that had helped his family.
"Before, I thought I would go away for a year after school, travel around and go to America or Australia," he said.
"But this country took my parents in when they fled Lebanon and gave us the chance to lead a normal life, and I really wanted to give something back," he said. (photo: Reuters)
The daily news of the world's most powerful alliance.
The views expressed in NATOSource are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Atlantic Council, its staff, or its supporters.
Follow on Twitter: @NATOSource
"I am an enormous fan of NATOSource. I use it virtually every day, because it provides a wide variety of views, a solid base of factual knowledge, and keeps me in touch with the world of NATO."
(Graphics: Deutsche Welle and Reuters)
Most Popular NATOSource Posts
- Alliance Unity
- Allied Command Operations
- Allied Command Transformation
- Article 5
- Burden Sharing
- Capabilities Gap
- Chicago Summit
- Cyber Threats
- Defense Spending
- Energy Security
- High North
- Missile Defense
- NATO Defense Ministerials
- NATO Exercises
- NATO Ministerials
- NATO Operations
- NATO Partnerships
- NATO Response Force
- Nuclear Weapons
- Secretary General
- Smart Defense
- Special Forces
- Strategic Concept
- Transatlantic Relations
- United Nations
- Weapon Systems
- Associated Press
- Baltic Times
- Brussels blog
- Deutsche Welle
- EU Observer
- European Voice
- Financial Times
- Hurriyet Daily News
- International Herald Tribune
- Kyiv Post
- Le Monde Diplomatique
- Moscow Times
- New York Times
- Prague Daily Monitor
- Radio Free Europe
- Ria Novosti
- Russia Today
- Slovak Spectator
- St. Petersburg Times
- Times (London)
- Today's Zaman
- Wall Street Journal
- Washington Post
- American Enterprise Institute (AEI), United States
- Aspen Institute, United States
- Atlantic Council, United States
- Brookings Institution, United States
- Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, United States
- Cato Institute, United States
- Center for a New American Security (CNAS), United States
- Center for International Relations (CIR), Poland
- Center for Security Studies (CSS), Switzerland
- Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), United States
- Center for Transatlantic Relations, United States
- Cicero Foundation, Netherlands
- Council on Foreign Relations, United States
- Danish Institute of International Studies (DIIS), Denmark
- EU Institute for Security Studies, France
- European Council on Foreign Relations, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Spain, UK
- European Institute, United States
- Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS), France
- French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), France
- Fundacion para el Análisis y los Estudios Sociale (FAES), Spain
- German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), Germany
- German Marshall Fund of the United States, United States
- Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos (GEES), Spain
- Heritage Foundation, United States
- Hoover Institution, United States
- Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques (IRIS), France
- Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis (IFPA), United States
- Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Germany
- Instituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Italy
- International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), United Kingdom
- Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Germany
- Lemnitzer Center, United States
- Marshall Center, Germany
- Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael), Netherlands
- Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), Norway
- RAND, United States
- Real Instituto Elcano, Spain
- Ridgway Center, United States
- Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), United Kingdom
- Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), United Kingdom
- Schuman Center (RSCAS), Italy
- Security & Defence Agenda (SDA), Belgium
- Strategy International (SI), Greece
- U.S. Institute of Peace, United States
- Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, United States