Despite rising budgets, Western armies fail to stock up on recruits

If, following the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the year 2022 was mainly placed under the specter of increased defense efforts, almost everywhere in Europe, 2023 could well present a very different face, likely to disappoint military planners.

Indeed, since the beginning of the year, there have been increasing reports of the difficulties encountered by Western armies, particularly in Europe and the United States, in recruiting the manpower necessary for the renewal of forces, making it very difficult to apply the growth ambitions mentioned above.

This is particularly the case of the Bundeswehr, which is engaged in an effort to increase its manpower from 183.000 soldiers today to 203.000 within 10 years to respond to the evolution of the threat, and which, for this, will see its budget to increase by almost 35% in the years to come to reach the 2% of GDP required by NATO.

However, the latter is already encountering major problems simply to maintain its workforce, while the number of candidates over the last 12 months has decreased by 11% vis-à-vis the previous period marked by an upsurge in applications after the Covid crisis.

bundeswehr G36 german defense budget GETTY Military planning and plans | Germany | Army budgets and defense effort
The Bundeswehr has seen applications drop by 11% in recent months to join it

In addition, a third of its current workforce will leave the service in the next 7 years, making the challenge more difficult to meet for the German command, which is multiplying initiatives to try to come into contact with young people to create vocations, without great success however.

The same is true of the Royal Navy, yet an institution across the Channel, which can be seen today exposed to a negative balance in terms of workforce, due to a significant increase in resignations since the Covid episode, while applications have decreased by 25% compared to the previous period, with certain specialties under great tension, in particular due to market competition jobs in high demand.

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