Germany to allow domestic military deployment

Associated Press | October 6, 2008
By David Rising

BERLIN (AP) Germany's governing coalition partners want to change the constitution to allow for military deployment within the country if needed to combat terrorism, officials said Monday.

The proposal would allow use of the military only if police are overwhelmed and cannot properly respond to a situation themselves.

"It is not to be used generally, but only in very specific cases," Interior Ministry spokeswoman Daniela-Alexandra Pietsch said.

The center-left Social Democratic Party which makes up half of Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition had been opposed to the proposal but agreed late Sunday after working out an agreement that includes strict guidelines for domestic deployment.

"We're talking only about emergency help," Social Democrat parliamentary leader Peter Struck said. For example, the navy could be called to help in a situation where police maritime patrols were not sufficient, he said.

The proposal will now go to Merkel's Cabinet and then to parliament for approval.

Given Germany's militaristic past, many are hesitant to expand the role of soldiers domestically. Currently, the German military can be deployed within the country only in times of war, or to help with emergencies or natural disasters.

Following the announcement of the new proposal, opposition Left Party lawmaker Petra Pau accused the government of seeking to violate a constitutionally dictated division "between army, police and secret services."

"The military has no role domestically for historic, political, legal and professional reasons," Pau said.

Germany used Tornado fighter jets to secure airspace during last year's Group of Eight summit, while troops helped provide support to police controlling demonstrations.

Merkel's government at the time defended the deployment as necessary to secure the area and provide technical and logistical support for police. But the opposition Greens party criticized it as "a creeping breach of the constitution."