14:25 GMT +321 September 2019
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    German army soldiers rest after NATO enchanced Forward Presence Battle Group Lithuania exercise in Pabrade military training field, Lithuania, May 17, 2017

    Germany Defense Minister Pushes for Higher Military Budget - Report

    © REUTERS / Ints Kalnins
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    Despite opposition from coalition partners, one of Merkel's closest officials, Ursula von der Leyen, is lobbying for more spending. Germany is under pressure from Donald Trump, who has been shaming Berlin for having not fulfilled NATO's military spending target of 2 percent of GDP.

    German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has called on the country's lawmakers to boost military spending.

    "The wish for security is indivisible from the willingness to make the necessary investments. We must act," the minister, representing the Social Democratic Union, wrote in a letter, cited by Reuters.

    In her address, she explains her request with the need to create a unified security, development and foreign policy. At the time, she complained about failures caused by funding cuts, which impact operational readiness and cause shortages of body armor and spare parts, as well as hamper modernization.

    READ MORE: US Envoy Bashes Germany for Reluctance to Boost EU Security

    The German newspaper Bild reported that Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen had requested a 12 billion euro ($14.6 billion) increase to the country's military budget, which currently stands at 39 billion euros ($47.3 billion).

    Berlin has kept defense spending at just 1.2 percent of GDP in recent years. However, in March von der Leyen announced the country would increase the defense budget to 1.5 percent of GDP by 2025, still half a percent below the 2 percent requirement NATO members agreed to in 2014.

    READ MORE: Germany Must Raise Defense Spending to Meet NATO Target — EU Commissioner

    This fact has repeatedly invoked criticism from US President Donald Trump, as well as some other NATO members.

    "If you look at NATO, where Germany pays 1 percent and we are paying 4.2 percent of a much bigger GDP, that's not fair," Trump complained.

    Incidentally, Germany is slated to take command of NATO's crisis response force in 2019. But its military is facing major shortages of basic military supplies.

    The list of shortfalls includes fighter aircraft struggling to operate at night, pilot attrition within the Luftwaffe and just four out of 128 Eurofighter Typhoons ready to fly combat missions. The problems aren't limited to the German Air Force.

    "Less than half of the 224 Leopard 2 tanks are ready to roll and a mere five of the Navy's 13 frigates are seaworthy," according to the German Defense Ministry's "Report on the Operational Readiness of the Bundeswehr's Primary Weapon Systems 2017."

    military budget, NATO, Ursula von der Leyen, Germany
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