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Germany: recruits abandon voluntary military service

According to a report in the German newspaper Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, 14 percent of recruits in one battalion in Lower Saxony had quit in the first few weeks of the new military recruitment system that started 1 July 2011, following the suspension of conscription. At a Berlin battalion, the drop-out rate was 10 percent.

About 30 percent of the people who quit the Bundeswehr did so for medical reasons or because they could not quickly get physically fit. But other recruits left for personal reasons, such as feeling overwhelmed or believing they could never get used to barracks life, according to the HAZ.
With the suspension of conscription in Germany on 1 July 2011, a new voluntary military service for men and women of initially six months basic training, which can be extended by up to 17 months, has been introduced.

Even before the suspension of conscription, the German Bundeswehr was made up disproportionally of soldiers from the former East Germany. In a recent study, two experts said that while only 16 percent of the German population of 82 million lives in the former East Germany, easterners make up 30 percent of military personnel. It has to be feared that this disproportionality might increase, as voluntary recruitment relies in practice on a "poverty draft".

Sources: The Local: Bundeswehr recruits quitting voluntary service, 22 July 2011; The New York Times: The Draft Ends in Germany, but Questions of Identity Endure, 30 June 2011; War Resisters' International: German parliament votes to suspend conscription, CO-Update No 62, January 2011