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German Parliamentarians continue to procrastinate about armed drones.

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Defense Commissioner Högl: Drone armament of the Bundeswehr is necessary
The SPD leadership is against a swift decision on arming drones, as the Union is calling for after years of debate.
December 17 , 2020

Berlin - In the dispute over the armament of the future German Armed Forces drone Heron TP, the Armed Forces Commissioner Eva Högl spoke out clearly in favor of the armaments project. She referred to the protection of soldiers on deployments abroad and stated that she believed it was right to make a decision during this legislative period. “My attitude is unchanged. I consider it necessary and advisable to also arm drones, ”said the SPD politician.

The SPD parliamentary group agreed on Tuesday to want to discuss the topic again in principle. So it is probably off the table for the remaining term of the grand coalition. That was heavily criticized from within the Union. Opposition politicians hold the SPD against not wanting to make a decision despite years of debates. "If we do not take the decision to arm drones now, it will set us back considerably," said the Union's defense policy spokesman, Henning Otte. The defense policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, Fritz Felgentreu, had resigned as spokesman in protest against the parliamentary group's position.

“My perspective is that of the soldiers. It would significantly increase security in use. It would also make the response options more flexible, ”said Högl. At the moment it is the case that German soldiers are dependent on the support of the Americans in the event of a threat. "I think it is imperative to give the Bundeswehr these skills," said Högl.

Proponents of armed drones always argue with the protection of soldiers. Above all, critics argue that the inhibition threshold for the use of military force can sink because drones are controlled remotely and their own soldiers are not endangered when they are deployed.

“Indeed: the debate has been carefully and extensively discussed in recent years. That is also good and correct, ”said Högl. The decision is difficult and the nature of the matter is controversial. The international legal framework as well as the ethical and human rights foundations must be clarified. That also applies to the rules set by the Bundestag.

"I think the question of whether we should arm the drones is ripe for a decision," said Högl. However, she also perceives that many do not yet have a solid opinion. “For example, we have not yet had a majority in the German Bundestag. That's about half-half. Even in society, we have about 50:50 approval of armed drones. The latest surveys show that, ”says Högl.

But it is also clear that Germany is not doing everything that is technically possible and that the Bundestag is in control. “And I go one step further. As Germans, we could also set a good example of the responsible use of drones in accordance with international law. I would like that, ”she said. "That's why I think that such an operation is not only responsible, but also urgently needed to protect the soldiers."

Article in German here.

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