During recent terror alerts in Munich and other German cities, police special forces units have demonstrated that they know what they are doing.
They quickly arrived at the scene, secured the area, evacuated civilians, communicated professionally and swiftly conducted their investigations. The management of these operations was exemplary, and the level-headed approach taken by law enforcement officers had a calming effect on citizens.
Lawmakers and the media alike have had nothing but praise for these efforts, and rightfully so. But in the same breath, politicians with the center-right Christian Democratic Union are dusting off what should be a non-starter: the domestic deployment of the German armed forces.
They could hardly be doing a bigger favor to terrorists and extremists, who are inflaming the mood in Germany, fueling fear and suspicion and trying to amplify the general sense of insecurity even further.
The women and men who drafted our constitution knew all too well why they were imposing strict rules on the domestic deployment of Germany's armed forces.
Terrorist attacks are the work of vicious murderers and perverse butchers. Anyone who defines them as soldiers, to be combated with our own army, is in fact ennobling them, which is precisely what the so-called Islamic State wants. Terrorist attacks and rampages are matters for the police, not the military.
Like the frog that is placed into warm water to gradually accustom it to the heat, politicians seem to be seeking to slowly accustom us to the illegal circumstance of deploying “just a little bit of the military.” They’re proposing a few military police officers here and a couple of road blocks there.
This sends a devastating message, namely that it only takes a successful attack for us to suspend the most valuable thing our society has: our constitution.
The women and men who drafted our constitution knew all too well why they were imposing strict rules on the domestic deployment of Germany’s armed forces, the Bundeswehr. Seeking to suspend these restrictions in the latest “White Paper for the Bundeswehr” is nothing but a deliberate violation of the constitution.
State politicians are already puffing themselves up as military commanders who “will not hesitate to request the Bundeswehr.” Yet if they had done their jobs in the past, we wouldn’t even be thinking about this issue today.
The eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, which reduced its law enforcement personnel by the largest numbers compared to other states, will ironically be the site of military exercises involving the full array of war toys – under the guidance of the police, of course, as if Bundeswehr generals would be prepared to report to local police officers and take orders from them.
Aircraft and military drones will seek out perpetrators, because this is something the police are supposedly unable to do. By contrast, the police will receive their first new helicopter in 2017, and only after that will they perhaps get to order another one.
“Our budget also has its limits, and we need to set priorities,” said Holger Stahlknecht, the state interior minister in Saxony-Anhalt. Apparently these priorities do not include adequately equipping the police to effectively fight terrorism and protect their units.
In fact, this is precisely the reason behind the constant talk of domestic deployment of the Bundeswehr. Federal and state governments are not prepared to properly outfit the police, because they want to save money, because they have been cutting costs for years, and because they are unwilling to bring about real change.
Armored vehicles, adequate protective vests, bulletproof helmets, better weapons, expansion of digital wireless communications, adequate ammunition and magazines, necessary weapons training and, ultimately, the necessary personnel – the list of demands is as long as the list of failures of recent years.
The security forces have the necessary abilities, but they lack adequate capacity, which is why police special forces are forced to put their lives on the line in emergency situations, facing off against terrorists, who are armed to the teeth, with light protective vests, VW transporters and handguns.
This also applies to riot police units, which are urgently in need of reinforcement. We need at least 30,000 federal and state riot police officers instead of the current force of just under 22,000. Instead, the federal interior ministry is skimping on their equipment and is allowing their mobility to disintegrate.
The state riot police forces have received only €6.7 million ($7.5 million) in annual funding, instead of the €15 million they need to maintain their operational capability. The federal riot police are only partially operational, due to constant demands and expanding tasks.
And the same federal government is willing to spend hundreds of millions of euros for external advisers. This advising of the federal government is like the re-routing of traffic in Berlin: No one was able to recognize that it was even happening until it had been reported by the media.
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