The Germany army has spent too long drilling wells and stemming floods, Olaf Scholz said on Friday, as he promised to turn his military into “the best equipped” on the continent.
Speaking at an army conference, the German chancellor admitted that his country had lived in an illusion that it was surrounded only by friends, with harmful consequences for its armed forces.
Mr Scholz, 64, said: “For a long time, our country avoided a true prioritisation of the tasks of its army.”
He said that, while the country was grateful to soldiers for drilling wells, stemming floods and helping with Covid vaccinations, “that is not their core mission”.
He added: “The army’s core mission is to defend freedom in Europe,” saying that it was his objective to turn the German military into “the central pillar” of European conventional defences and make it “the best equipped force” on the continent.
Days after the Russian invasion began in February, Mr Scholz announced a “new era” in German defence spending, pledging a special €100 billion fund to modernise the underfunded forces, plus increasing defence spending to two per cent of GDP.