The new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius now wants to speed up the delivery of equipment and weapons for the Bundeswehr. At the Altengrabow military training area in Saxony-Anhalt, where he made his first visit to the troops, the SPD politician made it clear that the “conflicting goals” of simultaneous military aid for Ukraine and better equipment for the country’s own armed forces can only be resolved together with the armaments industry.

“The goal has to be that we have faster, sustainable and sustained replenishment paths and times. It has to be reliable,” he said. There must be mutual planning security. This applies to politics for orders, while business is responsible for delivery times. “It has to be brought together. And if this means that more production resources have to be built up in Germany and in Europe, then that should happen,” said Pistorius. When it comes to ammunition in particular, it’s about the “question of quantity,” he said. He also wants to hold initial talks with the armaments industry about this as early as next week.

Pistorius took office a week ago after his predecessor Christine Lambrecht had asked Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) to be dismissed. Her short tenure was accompanied by constant criticism and doubts as to whether she was up to the task of turning the run-down armed forces back into a broadly combat-capable force.

Pistorius drives in the Marder infantry fighting vehicle

At the military training area, Pistorius was shown how men and women of Logistics Battalion 171 practiced with handguns and armored infantrymen in live firing with the Puma infantry fighting vehicle. As part of the exercise, Pistorius was shown a combat situation where advancing Puma tanks encountered a barrier in open terrain, circumvented it and continued the fight.

The minister also drove himself in the infantry fighting vehicle, which is ultra-modern and is intended to replace the older Marder infantry fighting vehicle, but recently made headlines with failures during target practice. In the meantime, a more detailed analysis of the damage has shown that the problems could probably have been managed with better preparation and training.

“Anyone who still knows the marten will see the differences immediately. I would like to add a personal comment: When I came onto the site and drove across the site, I had a déjà vu and remembered my own military service 40 years ago”, said Pistorius. “And I’ll say it in my own words: I’m glad to be in the squad.” Pistorius, who is already wearing a camouflage parka during the visit and giving lectures on tanks and politics, seems much closer to the soldiers’ nerves than his predecessors after a week.

Minister: Arms shipments increase deficits

In the history of the Bundeswehr over the past 30 years, there have been significant savings programs under individual predecessors, “of which some say it broke the back of part of the Bundeswehr,” says Pistorius. “At the same time, we have the situation that we have a new security situation, with a new challenge for NATO and the Bundeswehr in terms of alliance and national defense.” The arms deliveries to Ukraine are now tearing holes where there are already deficits, as he said. “We have to make a decision. It’s bad for us to say to Ukraine. We’re stopping our help because there are temporary gaps for us.”

The day before, the federal government officially announced that, as a first step, it would give 14 Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine. The aim is for this German-trained Ukrainian company to be in Ukraine by “the end of March, beginning of April,” Pistorius said. “I have no indication that they will be late,” Pistorius said, dismissing questions about whether the federal government had been too hesitant. “We didn’t hesitate, we negotiated,” said the minister, who referred to necessary talks with allies. And: “Everyone should be satisfied with the decision, because we do what is necessary.”