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German army poised to allow foreign citizens to join amid dire troop shortage

German politicians have proposed allowing foreign citizens to serve in the army, including those from some non-EU countries.

In the face of a drastic troop shortage Defence Minister Boris Pistorius in December suggested reintroducing conscription but faced criticism from within his own centre-left Social Democratic Party and the centrist Free Democrats (FDP) who make up Germany’s ruling “traffic light coalition” with the Greens.

Now Mr Pistorius has proposed opening up the Bundeswehr to non-Germans, and this time has support from the FDP in member Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, who said troops could be enlisted from EU countries and beyond, DW reported.

“I think that Europe also needs to be considered further, namely those who may live in European states but which do not yet belong to the European Union, but which may well be in accession negotiations,” Strack-Zimmermann said.

She also said Germany was working towards a goal of having a European army, and cited current close cooperation with France and the Netherlands.

“In the long term, if you think in a European way, it can no longer matter what nationality a soldier has within this European framework,” she said.

She also floated the possibility of allowing non-citizens who were born and raised in Germany to be allowed to join the Bundeswehr, and said there could be a pathway to citizenship via military service.

The proposal comes as the US military reports a sharp fall in white recruits, and Australia considers allowing foreign citizens to join the defence force.

The US Army is facing a historic recruitment slump and an overall short of 10,000 recruits in 2023. The number of White recruits fell from 44,042 in 2018 (56.4% of the total) to 25,070 in 2023 (44%), Military.com reported.

Army officials struggled to explain the drop in White recruits but said a perception that the Army was becoming “woke” had degraded the prestige of the military in parts of conservative America.

In Australia the Labor government this month confirmed it was was considering a proposal to boost defence force numbers by allowing residents of Pacific Island nations to serve.

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