The terrorist attacks in Paris, Copenhagen, and most recently in Tunis have compelled the German Federal Minister of the Interior, Thomas De Maizière, to promote the idea of a new counter terrorist unit as part of the federal police.

Simultaneous attacks across different locations often overwhelmed police officers and the German Police Union find that they are ill equipped to effectively challenge the ever-growing threat. Although the national police force employs plenty of officers, they lack the training and equipment, whilst the state SWAT teams and GSG-9 both have the tactical background, but exhibit a shortage of manpower to take on this responsibility by themselves.

German security officials recognize that Germany is not exempt from imminent plots by extremist groups and acknowledge the danger of such attacks. In recent years Germany has received and dealt with multiple threats by terrorist groups or individual supporters of violent extremists. However, they also admit that they have been lucky in the past when in two separate incidents, unidentified suitcase bombs failed to detonate at a train station in Bonn, as well as on a train in Nordrhein-Westfalen that would have resulted in the death of hundreds of people.

To effectively deal with simultaneous terrorist attacks in urban environments by heavily armed gunmen, the new federal police Counter-Terrorism unit would receive paramilitary training, armored vehicles, and state-of-the art equipment rivaling that of modern Special Forces units. From thermal optics, to body cameras, NVG’s, body armor, ballistic helmets, and heavy weaponry, the CT officers would closely resemble military SOF operators overseas rather than federal policemen – a bold statement which will most likely become a topic of discussion once the unit will be called into action and out of its shadows.

While the precise location of its new base is still unclear, it would undoubtedly be conveniently located in close proximity to an air wing section of the federal police. Emphasis would be placed on domestic surveillance and intelligence collection capabilities, as well as logistical support to project its assets to multiple locations simultaneously.

Germany’s world renowned GSG-9 could certainly deal with a single threat but they indisputably lack the manpower to sustain multiple ongoing incidents over an extended period of time (case in point: the Paris attacks). According to security officials, GSG-9 can only supply up to 100 operators at any given time. And even if local SEK units (Spezialeinsatzkommando – state SWAT) would assist with additional officers and resources, recent incidents have revealed a demand for a manhunt/search capability, which neither of the units possesses.

Pursuing heavily armed gunmen through densely populated areas not only requires a sizeable and equally equipped police force, but also calls for specific surveillance capabilities and a far-reaching intelligence network. According to the German Police Union, the federal police force requires a ruthless and brutal CT unit that can hit multiple targets hard and fast with military grade weaponry and tactics, backed by a far-reaching intelligence network and surveillance capability. They claim that recent incidents in Paris, Copenhagen or Tunis justify such a change and therefore demand a solution to avoid potential attacks on German soil. De Maizière’s new CT unit would bridge this gap between the GSG-9’s tactical capabilities and the evident lack of manpower, training and equipment to effectively deal with the current threat environment.