Shortly after a disturbed 18-year-old went on a rampage with a pistol in Munich last Friday, killing nine people and then himself, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen told the media that the military police had been put on alert to assist the police.
During the teen’s lone rampage, rumours had been circulating that there were other gunmen on the loose and the possibility of a coordinated terror attack on the Bavarian capital wasn’t being ruled out.
Von der Leyen said that, if it had been a coordinated terror attack, the military would have been called from their base to help neutralize it.
Speaking to the press on Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel also confirmed that military police had been on standby. She then asserted her support for using the military during future terror attacks, announcing that the army would start training with the police in order to prepare for such an eventuality.
But the idea is highly controversial among the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the left-wing coalition partners to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
In Friday’s edition of the Passauer Neue Presse, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) let it be known that he didn’t believe any change to the Bundeswehr’s duties was necessary.
“The incidents at the weekend proved how professional the police are and how quick they were to react,” he said.
“There were no gaps that the army could or should have filled. There is no rational argument to be made for putting the army on operation domestically, despite the fact this debate has erupted again - there is no need to change the constitution.”
The debate has been bubbling away for years, with the German constitution placing very tight controls on when the army can be used domestically.
Currently the constitution allows for the military to support emergency services during natural catastrophes.
But in a new white paper on defence, published earlier this month, SPD and CDU agreed on a compromise wording which would allow for the army to be deployed internally during major attacks without a change to the constitution.