That is slightly more than the British armed forces’ current strength of 196,410.
“Whether it is the fight against Isil terrorism, the stabilization of Mali, continuing support of Afghanistan, operations against migrant smugglers in the Mediterranean or with our increased Nato presence in the Baltics.”
The announcement came as Germany deployed tanks and hundreds troops to Lithuania as part of a Nato force to deter Russian aggression
During the Cold War, West Germany was considered the first line of defence against a Soviet invasion and at its height the Bundeswehr had 500,000 active service personnel.
But in the years following the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification defence spending dropped sharply.
Germany ended conscription in 2011 and troop numbers fell to an all-time low of 166,500 in June last year.
Cold War historians described West Germany’s army as “perhaps the best in the world”.
But in more recent years it has been better known for embarrassing equipment shortages that saw soldiers forces to use broomsticks instead of guns on Nato exercises, and use ordinary Mercedes vans to stand in for armoured personnel carriers.
The German air force was forced to ground half of its ageing Tornado fighters last year over maintenance issues, including six that are deployed on reconaissance missions against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) in Syria.
There are growing calls for Europe to do more to secure its own defence after Mr Trump described Nato as “obsolete” in an interview in January, and earlier this month Angela Merkel’s government was forced to take the unusual step of denying that it is interested in becoming a nuclear power.
Mr Trump has repeatedly accused Nato’s European members of not paying enough towards the cost of their defence and during the US presidential campaign Mr Trump warned the US may not necessarily come to the aid of Nato allies if they are attacked.