Here in the US, drone warfare has been a topic of constant debate and has only increased as more information on the actual use scenarios have come to light. But now Germany has their own eyes set on buying fleets of armed drones to add to their own military. Up until now, Germany has used unarmed drones to carry out surveillance operations (60 deployed in Afghanistan and Kosovo, and 347 used at home), but adding artillery to the unmanned aircrafts have some in Germany worrying about what it means for their country.
Since World War II, Germany has been very cautious on how they build out their military. Having armed drones could result in the country moving into conflict areas more quickly and the fact that these unmanned drones are often controlled by someone thousands of miles away removes a level of seriousness to some deadly attacks.
Germany has been looking into this purchase for several weeks now and Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere has expressed his surprise at the strong opposition to the proposal. “Rationally, I don’t fully understand the intensity of the debate… Politically, psychologically, it is easily explained. This is a surrogate debate on how the U.S. is using drones. And from the way the Americans use them, people are deciding negatively on the operating tool itself.”
There is a big difference between the United States and Germany when it comes to the legality of drone use. According to de Maiziere, they way the US uses its drones for targeted killings of individuals would be against Germany’s constitution and “nobody will change the constitution for the usage of one type of weapon”.
There is still a fine line between something being considered a targeted individual attack and a more generic combat use, and that is where the issue gets muddy as politicians are tempted with the convenience and power of the drones.
A decision is expected to be made within months in Germany, and if they do move forward with the combat drones, de Maiziere said that operators would be deployed along with ground troops in the combat zone. “I feel it is important to be in the theater, to have breakfast in the canteen together with the soldiers who are patrolling the area, to pass a military hospital where a wounded soldier is lying, to be away from home, because the effects of the weapon are also away from home.”