Back in the 1980s, the West German Bundeswehr was a massive roadblock to the Warsaw Pact hordes coming through the Fulda Gap. Established on the 200th birthday of Scharnhorst on 12 November 1955, the force used largely Allied equipment and Nazi-era officers, but within a generation, both were replaced by some of the newest and most forward thinking leaders and gear in the World. German Leopard tanks were (and Model 2A7s today still are) seen as perhaps the most deadly armored vehicle in Europe.
Gerhard von Scharnhorst, 1755–1813, Chief of the Prussian General Staff and later one of Napoleon’s greatest thorns.
At the height of the Cold War, when fully mobilized, the Bundeswehr could count on nearly a million men under arms and some 4,000 Leopards to hold the gap.
Then came the great melting of the Berlin Wall, reunification with the East, and a general downsizing of the ‘Heer over the past 25 years.
Now, the 60,000-strong German Army has but two active Panzerbrigades and 225 Leopards of all types backed up by an equal number of Puma and Boxer armored vehicles.
And even this corps is struggling.
The very Stryker-ish German GTK Boxer. The Heer is buying 250~ of these to replace the vintage Fuchs APCs. Hopefully, they will come standard with machine guns.
As reported by both German and English sources on the “tip of the spear” of German rapid response forces:
“Late last year, as the German Bundeswehr was considering rebooting its expensive, failed Euro Hawk drone program, the army of the country with the fourth largest economy in the world fielded its newest armored vehicles in a major military exercise in Norway with broomsticks painted black and lashed in place of missing machine gun barrels. That detail was part of a German Defense Ministry report leaked to Germany’s public television network ARD that exposed widespread shortages of basic combat equipment.
According to the report, the Bundeswehr units deployed as part of a test of NATO’s Rapid Response Force in September were far from combat-ready: they deployed with less than a quarter of the night vision gear required. The units were also missing 41 percent of the P8 pistols and 31 percent of the MG3 man-portable machine guns they were supposed to deploy with. And none of the GTK Boxer armored vehicles that deployed were equipped with their primary armament—the 12.7 mm M3M heavy machine gun.”
Scharnhorst is truly rolling in his grave