Germany considers reintroducing conscription as part of new civil defence strategy

The proposal was written in a 69-page government report representing the first major assessment of Germany’s civil defence since the end of the Cold War

Alexandra Sims
Tuesday 23 August 2016 20:31 BST
German soldiers walk through the Julius-Leber-Kaserne military barracks
German soldiers walk through the Julius-Leber-Kaserne military barracks (Getty Images )

Germany is considering reinstating conscription as part of a new civil defence strategy.

The "Concept for Civil Defence", published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on Sunday, outlines plans to temporarily bring back conscription during times of national crisis.

The 69-page-report, due to be discussed by the cabinet on Wednesday and which represents the first major assessment of Germany’s civil defence measures since the end of the Cold War, also mentions the necessity of a reliable alarm system, better structural protection of buildings and more capacity in the health system.

It says that although a national disaster is “unlikely” preparations are needed in case of a future terror attack or “hybrid” conflict that could damage fundamental infrastructure.

The plan to reintroduce conscription emerged in a section of the government paper entitled "Civil support for the armed forces", according to DPA news agency.

It reportedly says, “quick and reliable delivery of mail is especially important for the German Army [Bundeswehr]", adding “in particular, call-up papers and notices of performance in times of reintroduction of conscription.”

Civilians may also be called on to help direct traffic or provide resources for the military such as accommodation in times of crisis, according to DPA.

Germany abandoned compulsory national service in 2011, however conscription is authorised in the German constitution and could be reintroduced easily, Die Zeit reports.

During the Cold War, Germany’s army was bolstered hugely by national service and it had half a million troops on active duty.

The report does not outline plans to reintroduce conscription permanently and in June, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said conscription would not be reinstated.

Since being published in the German media, the report been criticised over plans to tell citizens to stockpile food and water in their homes in case of a terror attack or catastrophe.

The opposition party Die Linke (The Left Party) has lambasted the idea, saying the alert to stockpile enough food for ten days and enough water for five days, "could completely unsettle people".

Many have taken to social media mocking the proposals, posting pictures of empty shelves and looted supermarkets. The hashtag "Hamsterkaufe", or "panic buying" has also been trending on Twitter in Germany.

Germany is currently on high alert after two Islamist attacks and a shooting rampage in Munich by a mentally unstable teenager in July.

Germany's Defence Minister said earlier this month the country was in the "crosshairs of terrorism" and called for the military to train more closely with police in preparation for potential large-scale militant attacks.

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