East Germany to Trim Troops by 10,000 : Cut Planned Over 2 Years; 10% Drop in Arms Budget Scheduled
East Germany will cut its defense budget by 10% and reduce its armed forces by 10,000 troops in two years’ time, East German leader Erich Honecker announced Monday.
The purpose of the cuts, said Honecker, is to give East Germany’s armed forces “an even more defensive character.”
The East German head of state’s declaration, at a dinner for Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson in East Berlin, was the latest in a series of announcements of Warsaw Pact troop and armaments reductions.
East Germany’s armed forces total 176,000 troops, including 94,500 conscripts, according to the authoritative, London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. The army has about 120,000 soldiers, including two tank divisions and four motorized rifle divisions, equipped with about 3,000 tanks, the institute says.
In his speech, Honecker said the reductions will include 600 tanks in six armored regiments and one squadron of 50 aircraft. The East German air force has 334 combat aircraft, mainly Soviet-made MIGs and Sukhois, according to Western analysts.
The East German leader said the tanks will be scrapped or adapted to civilian use.
Honecker also revealed that the Soviet Union plans to withdraw two armored divisions, two tank training regiments and eight independent battalions from East Germany this year.
Next year, Honecker said, Moscow will pull back two additional armored divisions, a paratroop unit, three training regiments and three independent battalions.
In a speech to the United Nations last month, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev said that Moscow will withdraw 50,000 troops and 5,000 tanks from East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary over a two year-period.
Then in Vienna last week, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze said that some of those troops will be taking with them their short-range, or tactical, nuclear weapons. But he did not specify how many weapons will be involved, and in Geneva on Monday, the chief Soviet arms negotiator, Viktor P. Karpov, said that only “a couple of dozen” of such weapons will be withdrawn.
There are currently an estimated 380,000 Soviet troops based in East Germany, Moscow’s largest troop contingent outside its own territory. And East Germany serves as the Soviet military headquarters for the Warsaw Pact forces.
Honecker said the East German National Defense Council has agreed on the military cuts, to be completed by the end of 1990, to set an example to other European nations.
“It is done to show through actions our good will in reducing conventional forces and in the hope that other European nations will be inspired to do the same,” he said.
East Germany’s defense budget was about $8.8 billion for 1989, with an extra $3.3 million allocated for internal security and protecting its borders, mainly the barriers along the border with West Germany and the wall around West Berlin.