Magazine article National Defense

Germany Tightens Anti-Terrorism Measures: Concern Remains about U.S. Role in Multinational Peacekeeping Operations

Magazine article National Defense

Germany Tightens Anti-Terrorism Measures: Concern Remains about U.S. Role in Multinational Peacekeeping Operations

Article excerpt

The German government and military forces are prepared to assume more responsibility in the U.S.-led war against terrorism, said officials.

"It is clear that international terrorism cannot be countered with conventional defense strategy," said a senior intelligence official from the German Ministry of Defense.

In 2002, the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, appropriated 1.5 billion euros for international anti-terrorism efforts, in addition to passing into law more than 10 anti-terrorism bills, including the introduction of air marshals and increased oversight of monetary transfers to potential terrorist organizations.

Germany committed 3,500 troops to Operation Enduring Freedom. While the United States is training the new Afghan army, Germany is taking on the task of training and equipping the country's new police forces. The program will cost Germany 10 million euros.

German special forces are currently on the ground in Afghanistan, performing various missions. Germany has one battalion-sized infantry task force operating in Kabul, supported by an air transport unit out of Uzbekistan.

This is the first time in 50 years that German ships and maritime patrol aircraft have been involved in a deployment like the one in Afghanistan. Since January, the German Navy has had three frigates, one fast patrol boat group and four supply ships operating out of Djibouti, in the Gulf of Aden. Also, a German A-310 Airbus is on alert in Germany for use as an emergency evacuation platform. Three German maritime patrol aircraft recently began conducting reconnaissance operations from Mombassa, Kenya, and two German Sea King helicopters are based in Djibouti.

Unlike most of its NATO allies, the Bundeswehr, Germany's armed services, enforces mandatory conscription for all men, for a minimum of nine months, though a substantial percentage of German youths write objection letters and then are released from military service. After the initial nine months, conscripts can choose to re-join the military for another tour, after which time they can retire. Others decide to remain in the military for the lengths of their careers.

As far as defense priorities are concerned, the terrorist threat is one among several problems confronting Germany.

Within the nation's borders, terrorism "is not the only threat we're facing," said the German official. Far worse, he added, is the potential for breakup of government structures, especially in the new democracy of the reunified German Republic. Cultural and religious extremism presents a "high risk at this point," he said. The fact that many of the alleged hijackers of September 11 spent time in Germany is an indicator that the country houses a variety of religious extremist groups, defense experts said.

"The core of what we do made sense before September 11, and it makes sense after," he said.

Germany has been dealing with terrorism and extremism in many forms for the past decade, but has not experienced a terrorist attack of the magnitude as the one on September 11.

A representative of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin said that Europeans felt "shock and outrage at 9/11, but they did not feel the sense of loss that all Americans felt."

Europeans felt that September 11 alerted Americans to a "great challenge, which led America to develop a new national purpose," and the German people's perspective was "I guess we should help them because we're friends."

When U.S. President George W. Bush visited Berlin in late spring, he praised the work of German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder, for bringing Germany into the international coalition to fight terrorism. "The magnitude of our shared responsibilities makes our disagreements look so small," said Bush, in a speech to a special session of the Bundestag.

Peacekeeping Operations

Germans believe that for transatlantic alliances in peacekeeping to be successful, the United States needs to cooperatively engage with its European allies, said the German official. …

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