Germany's armed forces could be reduced in size by up to 40 percent as part of austerity measures aimed at slashing the budget deficit, according to media reports on Wednesday.
The Stuttgarter Zeitung daily said the size of the Bundeswehr army could be cut to 150,000, around 100,000 less than the present total. The Rheinische Post newspaper later said the reduction could be by around 50,000 soldiers.
The defence ministry said various options were being examined but no decisions had yet been taken.
Last week Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said steep spending cuts were needed in his budget because of the federal government's financial situation. The minister is also assessing the future of Germany's compulsory military service.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet is due to hold a special session on June 6/7 to discuss measures to consolidate public finances.
The German defence budget is already one of the smallest in NATO as a percentage of national output at just 1.3 percent.
Berlin is expected to break the European Union's budget deficit limit by a wide margin in 2010, with the shortfall seen exceeding 5 percent of gross domestic product -- less than most of its partners but well beyond the 3 percent ceiling.
ReutersLast Mod: 03 Haziran 2010, 08:20