German Defense Minister Visits Pentagon Following Defense Spending Boost

March 31, 2022 Topic: NATO Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: GermanyGerman MilitaryNATODefense SpendingLloyd Austin

German Defense Minister Visits Pentagon Following Defense Spending Boost

Many expect Germany to play a much more prominent role in European security.

Germany has taken the next step in massively ramping up its military capabilities and support for NATO by deciding to increase its defense spending to two percent of its gross domestic product.

This is a profound shift for Germany, which now seems to be fully aligned against Russian aggression and in complete lockstep with the United States and NATO. Not only has Germany committed to a large increase in defense spending, but Berlin has also been sending anti-armor and anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine.

“We decided that we want to deliver arms to a region where there is a conflict, where there's actually a war that's being waged, and that's a decision that is very special for Germany. But it was necessary to make that decision because we have seen that agreements were broken, that lies were told and that a brutal war of aggression was started, and that is why we have to make those very crucial decisions,” Christine Lambrecht, Germany’s minister of defense, told reporters at a meeting with U.S. defense secretary Lloyd Austin.

Austin praised Germany’s willingness to host more U.S. military personnel and equipment. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, large numbers of U.S. soldiers and weapons systems, including F-35 fighters, have been transported to Germany in support of a multinational deterrence posture. In the wake of this shift in policy and defense spending priorities, German leaders also announced that they would acquire the F-35, joining the array of European countries now operating the jet. The ability of F-35s to network with one another means that Germany can now play an increasingly vital role in the fast-growing multinational force of European F-35 partners. This European “F-35 club” includes the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Italy, and Finland.

“Germany has shown tremendous leadership at this crucial moment. Your chancellor's decisions to bolster Germany's armed forces are bold and historic, and we look forward to working with you to implement these important changes. We also salute Germany's decision to send security assistance to Ukraine. Your example helped to inspire other Allies and partners to follow,” Austin said during his meeting with the German defense minister.

It will be interesting to see how this evolves, as many expect Germany to play a much larger and more prominent role in European security. Perhaps Berlin will participate more fully in NATO training exercises and acquire more tanks, missiles, and fifth-generation fighters. More broadly, Germany may increase the overall size of its military.

“We applaud your decision to invest in your armed forces, pledging to spend more than two percent of your economic output on defense and establishing … a special fund for the armed forces,” Austin said.

Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

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