Germany moots army deployment at home: media | News | DW | 12.04.2016
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Germany moots army deployment at home: media

The "Süddeutsche Zeitung" says a White Paper is being readied to allow the domestic deployment of the Bundeswehr. But Germany's constitution sets very strict limits for the use of the armed forces within its borders.

The German newspaper reported Tuesday that a white paper titled "Security Police and the Future of the Bundeswehr" has been drafted that envisages allowing a wider deployment of the armed forces than has previously been the case.

The proposed changes would allow the military to be utilized in case of a terrorist attack or other major security threat.

The draft states that "due to the character and dynamics of present and future security threats," a new strategy is required to allow the military to respond both internally and externally.

At present, the German constitution, or Basic Law, only permits the use of the military at home "in cases of national emergency." But there's a growing call for a widening of the military's powers at home in the wake of the Paris and Brussels attacks.

As well as taking part in counterterrorism measures, the army could play a bigger role in the refugee crisis by helping to distribute aid, for instance, .

Long-running debate

Several politicians have called for some time for the constitution to be amended to allow such a plan. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition partner, the Social Democrat Party of Germany (SPD), remains skeptical.

"The enforcement of state power remains the responsibility of the police," Rainer Arnold, the party's defense committee spokesman, told the "Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger" newspaper Tuesday.

The party believes that rather than giving additional responsibilities to an overstretched military, it would make more sense to bolster the country's police forces.

The white paper, which will be made available to the Cabinet in June, may also broaden the remit of the Bundeswehr on overseas missions.

A debate has been raging in Germany for several years about the use of the military, which was severely restricted following World War Two. The Bundeswehr was formed in 1955 to develop a completely new military force with a limited scope for the then West Germany.

In 2015, the government agreed to increase military spending from 1.3 percent to 6.2 percent over the next five years to allow the army to be modernized. The defense ministry is also planning to expand the number of troops.

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