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German ex-chief of staff: Military equipment failures show defense spending increase needed

FILE - in this Sept. 1, 2014 file photo German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen attends the debate about planned weapon aid for Kurdish Peshmerga forces at the parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany. Germany is unable to meet its medium-term readiness target should NATO call on its members to mobilize against an attack, officials said Monday, Sept. 29, 2014. The equipment trouble has prompted widespread criticism in German media of Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and senior ministry staff. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

FILE - in this Sept. 1, 2014 file photo German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen attends the debate about planned weapon aid for Kurdish Peshmerga forces at the parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany. Germany is unable to meet its medium-term readiness target should NATO call on its members to mobilize against an attack, officials said Monday, Sept. 29, 2014. The equipment trouble has prompted widespread criticism in German media of Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and senior ministry staff. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)  (The Associated Press)

A top-ranking retired German general says a string of recent embarrassing military equipment failures shows the country needs to spend more on defense.

Among other things, German army instructors got stranded in Bulgaria en route to Iraq when their plane broke down, and a leaked report listed a string of other military hardware problems.

Former chief of staff Harald Kujat said on rbb-radio Monday the German military has been increasingly involved in large operations like in Afghanistan, but has neglected equipment maintenance and replacement.

Germany this year reduced defense spending by about 800 million euros to 32.44 billion euros ($41.30 billion) — far below NATO's recommended level of 2 percent of GDP.

Kujat says "this is embarrassing for such a large country as Germany with such a big economy."