FAREWELL TO ARMS – In the two world wars, the Germans had, soldier for soldier, by far the best fighting force in Europe. That was a very long time ago:

Germany’s military is so underfunded its troops used BROOMSTICKS painted black as mock weapons during a Nato defence exercise.

But the highly embarrassing episode, revealed in a leaked report, is just the beginning of the country’s woes as it fights to reverse chronic army shortages…

In 2015 it also emerged the German military was using ordinary civilian Mercedes vans as stand-ins for armoured personnel carriers.

And The Times today reports all six of the country’s submarines were recently put out of service at the same time due to various repairs…

The paper added that there have been times recently when the country has not a single A400M transport plane available for use.

And in May the Luftwaffe had only four Eurofighter jets available from a total of 128 because of missile and coolant shortages.

As a Pole, the shambolic state of the German armed forces is a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, it is good to finally, after a thousand years, to have a peaceful Germany on the western border. On the other hand, since Germany is now a liberal democracy and a NATO ally, the fact that the country lacks any defensive – much less offensive – capacity is quite concerning. NATO is supposed to be a military alliance, not a pacifist pact. Europe, particularly the Eastern Europe, needs more than a collective Gandhi to stand up to Russia.

In a related development, Trump unleashes at Germany:

Donald Trump has launched an extraordinary tirade against Germany on the opening day of the Nato summit in Brussels, accusing Berlin of being a “a captive of the Russians” because of its dependency on energy supplies.

At his first meeting of the summit, with the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, Trump described the relationship between Germany and Russia as “inappropriate”.

Nato officials had been nervously awaiting the first meeting as an indicator of how Trump – who arrived in Brussels on Tuesday night – would behave over the next two days. Within minutes they had their answer.

This summit is shaping up to be the most divisive in Nato’s 69-year history. Normally, Nato summits are mostly fixed in advance and proceed in an orderly fashion. Trump’s first words signalled this one was not going to be like that.

He complained that German politicians had been working for Russian energy companies after leaving politics and said this too was inappropriate. Germany was totally controlled by Russia, Trump said.

With Stoltenberg looking on uncomfortably throughout, the US president was unrelenting. “I think it is very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia,” Trump said. “We are supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions dollars a year to Russia.

“We are protecting Germany, we are protecting France, we are protecting all of these countries and then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they are paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia. I think that is very inappropriate.”

He added: “It should never have been allowed to happen. Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they will be getting 60-70% of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline.

“You tell me if that’s appropriate because I think it’s not. On top of that Germany is just paying just a little bit over 1% [of GDP on Nato defence contributions] whereas the United States is paying 4.2% of a much larger GDP. So I think that’s inappropriate also.”

Guess what? Trump is right. I love the Western alliance as much as the next person, perhaps even more so, having grown up as the subject of the Warsaw Pact, but for a very long time Europe has been free-riding, enjoying all the benefits of the American military umbrella without any responsibility. He is right too about Germany’s – and many other countries’ – energy dependency on Russia. The left might hyperventilate all they want about “collusion” and Trump being Putin’s puppet, but so far it’s the European leaders who have been acting as if on Russia’s payroll (I’m not saying they are; it’s stupidity rather than malice). It’s time for Europe to grow up.