Merkel continues to publicly defend her "open border" immigration policies despite continued erosion of her popularity amid rising nationalist sentiments in Germany and across the EU. Meanwhile, Germany is preparing to deploy troops within its borders for the first time since World War II amid growing fears that the potential for a large-scale terrorist attack is "conceivable, even probable," at least according to Lt. Gen. Martin Schelleis.
Concerns of a potential threat come as nearly 30,000 asylum seekers continue to flood the country each month from Syria alone (see chart below). Overall, Germany took in about 2.1 million immigrants last year and over half of them were refugees.
Which has resulted in a spike in terrorist attacks….
Plans to utilize soldiers for counter-terrorism efforts within domestic borders is a very controversial concept for a country only seven decades removed from totalitarian rule. Such efforts weren't even allowed until a court decision in 2012 which expanded Article 35 of the German constitution to allow armed forces to be deployed within domestic borders but only in response to a terrorist attack of "catastrophic proportions."
Per Schelleis, German military assets are critical for providing a quick, effective response to a large-scale terrorist attack. Per NBC:
"What matters in a large-scale terrorist situation is that quick and effective action is taken," he told NBC News. "This calls for the procedures to be coordinated and practiced."
Schelleis added the military assistance on offer could include low-altitude air space surveillance, checkpoints, explosive ordnance disposal and even advice on nuclear, biological and chemical threat situations.
"We could also provide mobile laboratory capabilities," Schelleis said. "Our troops are excellently trained. The same applies to medical personnel, who are well versed in treating gunshot and burn injuries."
That said, with an active duty force of only 60,000 (compared to 1.4mm for the United States) others within the German military ranks believe that assisting with domestic operations would spread personnel to thin.
The country's armed forces are spread thin while fulfilling peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Mali and in the the Mediterranean Sea.
According to the German Armed Forces Association, many servicemen don't want to be used as "stopgaps at home."
"We favor the planned training under the leadership of police forces in order to assess a potential role of the armed forces in a large-scale terror scenario," said Lt. Col. André Wuestner, the group's head. "But it should not be our goal to protect train stations."
Wuestner said his counterparts in France and Belgium have warned that their domestic security duties — such as patrolling city centers — have kept them from training for their main responsibilities, such as missions abroad.
We were under the impression that Merkel's plan was simply "we can do this"…did she mean "we can do this with the Bundeswehr?"