Finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble has said the German army could be deployed to the streets in a security role, should the nation come under attack.
Reflecting on post-Paris terror attacks security reviews, veteran politician Mr. Schäuble admitted that German police resources were basically insufficient for the enormous task at hand. Looking to where extra manpower could come from in times of national stress, he said the nation should look to the army.
The minister said: “If we had a situation like Paris, perhaps with roadblocks in three or four places, you will need to think about whether our police capabilities are sufficient”, adding that the national police were already overtaxed on “many normal weekends”, reports Germany’s NewsTV.
Any suggestion of actually taking steps to control flows through Germany’s borders he dismissed out of hand, leaving ordinary Germans with having to live with soldiers on their streets because their politicians were unwilling to put them on their borders.
If German soldiers were to be deployed in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, it would be the first time since Nazi Germany that armed troops had been deployed for security inside the country. Using the armed forces for this internal policing role is actually illegal under Germany’s postwar constitution, but provisions to allow troops to be put on the streets in exceptional circumstances was passed in 2012.
The use of armed soldiers is still restricted despite the ruling of the constitutional court in favour of the Merkel government’s initiative to put troops onto the streets. While soldiers can be used at times where the state is under threat and to face off “catastrophe”, troops could not be permitted to counter mass protests.
While the powers have not yet been used, German soldiers have been used while unarmed on a number of occasions since. Over 19,000 soldiers were deployed in 2013 during massive flooding in the eastern part of the country, using military vehicles to rush in supplies and troops to fill sandbags to protect property.
Despite the importance of the mission, Spiegel reported the columns of army trucks rushing through the German countryside evoked “alarming images” for some.
More recently, the German army has been used to further government policy, with soldiers being deployed to migrant welcoming centres, and companies of troops being set to construct and maintain migrant camps alongside the Federal agency for Technical Relief. With a lack of specialists available to receive the 1.5 million migrants expected in Germany this year, many soldiers have been reduced to uniformed social workers as they fingerprint, photograph, and catalogue migrants.