Germany: Large anit-terror drill with armed forces in the works

In 2017 the German armed forces ‚Bundeswehr‘ trained for the first time with police forces how to handle a multiple nationwide terror attack within the exercise „GETEX“. Its simulated an Armageddon like scenario with five terror attacks in the same time – from Bremen in the North to Munich in the South – with hostage-takings, bombings and numerous of deads. The GETEX successor drill is currently under planning for March 2020 according to the armed forces joint support service. Details are yet to be determined.

GETEX 2017 was a sole staff exercise. It’s likely that GETEX 2020 will also be a field exercise. Since 2017 the Bundeswehr has conducted several tactical drills with police forces of several federal states like Hessia, Bavaria and recently with Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg. Exercises with Baden-Wuerttemberg and Lower Saxony are at the planning stage. One main hurdle for an effective contribution of Germanys armed forces to anti-terror-operations is its unbalanced and thin network of civil-military cooperation bases (in German: Stützpunkte für zivil-militärische Zusammenarbeit / ZMZ). One example: The only two bases for NBC defence are settled in the Western part of the country (see map).

Network of civil-military cooperation bases of Germany’s armed forces – Map: German armed forces

According to the German constitution the armed forces are only allowed to be deployed within the country as a support force for disaster management. The dominant interpretation of „disaster“ has long been limited to natural catastrophes like floddings. In this context, Bundeswehr units are traditionally used for minimizing the damage of such disasters – for instance by constructing dams during the Elbe and Danube flood 2002. But in 2012 Germany’s Federal Constitution Court decided that a disaster can also be a hugh terror attack with a catastrophic scope. The verdict is grist for the mill of especially conservative and rightists politicians who are eager to push the armed forces into the role of an auxiliary police. Within the Bundeswehr this idea finds its supporters mainly within the special forces like the Kommando Spezialkräfte.