Germany could abolish compulsory military service before the current parliament ends in 2013, Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Guido Westerwelle was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
"I think that's possible," Westerwelle told the Hamburger Abendblatt daily. "It would be the right decision to put an end to compulsory military service as quickly as possible."
Germany has been discussing an end to military service as part of measures to consolidate its finances, and Westerwelle's Free Democrats (FDP), coalition partners to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, have been pressing for its abolition.
However, demands on the German military have risen steadily in recent years as the country has shed its post-war reluctance to engage in international operations. It has thousands of troops serving abroad, including in Afghanistan.
Switching to fully professional armed forces would be a divisive move in Germany, where military issues remain sensitive 65 years after the end of World War Two and Nazi rule.