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The West German armed forces have a major advantage over their American allies -- no manpower shortage. Four million young men have been drafted without any major trouble since military conscription began 25 years ago this month. Recently Bonn's military leaders have considered extending the 15-month service requirement or even inducting women into the ranks to offset a decline in the number of young men of draft age.

But so far such measures have proved unnecessary. The economic recession has made so many young men eager to sign up for higher-paying two- year enlistments that the Bundeswehr has stopped advertising the program.m

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