Germany considering conscription for all 18yr olds as fear grows of NATO war with Russia
The German military says it desperately needs at least another 21,000 soldiers (Picture: Getty)

German school leavers may soon be forced into a year of military service to bolster troop numbers in response to Russian aggression.

Germany’s defence minister, Boris Pistorius, is pushing to reintroduce conscription for 18-year-olds, which was scrapped in 2011.

The country’s military is currently under pressure to fill a 21,000 shortfall of soldiers it says it needs to keep up with Nato defence plans.

Officials are in the final stages of discussions on three options, according to leaked plans obtained by German newspaper Die Welt, and Mr Pistorius could announce the decision as soon as next month.

epa11203714 German Defense Minister Boris Pistoriu (R) greets soldiers in Alta in connection with the Nordic Response military exercise, in Alta, Norway, 07 March 2024. Over 20,000 Norwegian and allied soldiers from 13 countries will train together to defend the Nordic region. The soldiers come from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Great Britain, Sweden, Germany and the USA. The Norwegian military exercise Cold Response has a long history and takes place in northern Norway every two years. Due to the NATO expansion with Finland and soon Sweden, the exercise has been expanded to a Nordic Response. EPA/Heiko Junge NORWAY OUT
German defence minister Boris Pistorius is ‘convinced’ military service should make a comeback (Picture: EPA)

One involves a compulsory year of military service for young men and women once they turn 18.

The second would require all 18-year-old boys to fill out forms and undergo testing, with enough suitable candidates enlisted to plug the recruitment gap. Women would be able to choose whether they’re contacted.

The third would not involve compulsory service – instead, school leavers are all sent the form and given the option of filling it out.

TOPSHOT - In this pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik, Russia's President Vladimir Putin meets with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 20, 2024. (Photo by Alexander KAZAKOV / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ALEXANDER KAZAKOV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Putin recently sacked his defence minister and blustered about being prepared for ‘global war’ (Picture: AFP)

Officials reportedly described the last option as ‘the least promising’ in their plans, and no major political players are pushing for it.

By contrast, Mr Pistorius recently said he was ‘convinced that Germany needs some form of conscription’ in his keynote speech during a recent visit to the US.

He previously said it was a ‘mistake’ to suspend military service – which saw 18-year-old boys enlisted for a year.

His stance is also notably supported by the main opposition party, CDU, which oversaw the scrapping of military service under long-standing former chancellor Angela Merkel.

Germany considering conscription for all 18yr olds as fear grows of NATO war with Russia
Germany had mandatory military service for young men until 2011 (Picture: AFP)

Alarm bells were sent ringing across Europe last week after Vladimir Putin said his nuclear forces have been placed on full stand-by for a potential global war.

He accused the ‘collective West’ of ‘fuelling regional conflicts, inter-ethnic and inter-religious strife’.

The spokeswoman for Germany’s defence ministry said last week: ‘With the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the military invasion of Ukraine, Russia demonstrated its willingness to use force to change borders in Europe.’

What is needed ‘more than ever is a Bundeswehr [armed forces] that is capable of acting and reacting’ which above all requires ‘anchoring the Bundeswehr in society’, she added.

British commanders say the threat from Russia is ‘urgent’ (Picture: Getty)
British commanders say the threat from Russia is ‘urgent’ (Picture: Getty)



Follow Metro on WhatsApp to be the first to get all the latest news

Apps With More Than One Million Users
Follow us to receive the latest news updates from Metro (Picture: Getty Images)

Metro’s on Whatsapp! Join our community for breaking news and juicy stories.

The head of the German government, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, has insisted the country ‘will not return to a conscript army with 400,000 soldiers’, though he hasn’t ruled out smaller-scale compulsory service.

German media reports suggest the federal government doesn’t currently have a funding plan in place to make conscription work.

Mr Pistorius also risked divisions within his own government by using his US visit to call for Germany to loosen its strict national debt rules for the scheme.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.