German Soldiers Fat – Even Compared to Civilians
Soldiers in the German Bundeswehr are fat and out of shape.
Germany’s young soldiers are fat, smoke too much and don’t exercise enough, a report on the armed services said on Tuesday. “The public perception is that soldiers are slim, sporty and healthy. Unfortunately, the reality is very different,” said Germany’s army commissioner Reinhold Robbe as he presented the report.
Some 40 percent of soldiers between 18 and 29 are overweight compared to 35 percent among Germany’s civilian population, said the report, which also found young male and female soldiers smoked too much and failed to do enough sport.
“I make no secret of the fact that these results worry me a lot,” said Robbe, who blamed a passive lifestyle among troops. Once one of the world’s most-feared fighting forces, Germany’s armed forces now have about 245,000 uniformed staff.
Dogged by the legacy of World War Two, it is only nine years ago that Germany engaged in its first foreign combat operations since 1945, taking part in NATO air strikes in Yugoslavia. Roughly 9,000 German troops are deployed today in global hotspots including Afghanistan and Kosovo.
This is only mildly surprising, really. Soldiers are usually in good shape because they’re trained in an environment of discipline motivated by the very real sense that they’ll need to be ready for the rigors of combat. That hasn’t been the case in Germany in decades, to some degree, and any pretense went away with the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of the Soviet Union.
Germany is a key NATO ally and, in most respects, a very good one. But their contribution to the military effort is minimal. Their force and budget are woefully small and their readiness level is low. It’s been more than six decades since WWII; it’s time to get over it and reclaim their tradition of martial excellence.