Background Checks in the German Army: Security Consultants Review the Proposal

The German Army has proposed instituting more stringent background checks on recruits wishing to enter the service. The proposal follows a spate of attacks in Europe and the United States that have been perpetrated by homegrown terrorists inspired by ISIS. The move gathered additional support after it was disclosed that more than 50 Islamic extremists had already joined the German Army, while as many as 29 ex-German Army soldiers had joined ISIS on the battlefield.

Background ChecksAlthough the number of current and former German Army personnel affiliated with extremist groups is miniscule relative to the size of the force, it is worrying nonetheless. For instance, ex-German Army soldiers could pass on Western tactics, training practices, and technical information to ISIS, making the terror group even deadlier. Furthermore, some observers fear that a radicalized infiltrator in the German Army could gain access to military-grade weapons and explosives that could be used to carry out a large-scale terrorist attack. For these reasons, many security consultants see the recent background check proposal to be sensible.

Security Consultants Say Background Checks and Psychological Screening Could Thwart ISIS Infiltrators

At a minimum, background checks typically involve a search for criminal activity conducted by the applicant or recruit. This generally entails an examination of police and court records in addition to various database searches. As a tool to identify potential terrorist infiltrators, most security experts consider background checks to be partially effective. To be sure, some terrorists, such as the perpetrator of the Nice attack, had a troubling criminal past. Yet, background checks limited to criminal history alone are not 100% effective. The San Bernardino shooters both passed background checks during their green card application, but no red flags were raised because neither shooter had a significant criminal history.

Given these shortcomings, many security experts think that background checks for prospective military recruits should be comprehensive and consider factors other than past criminal activity. For sensitive positions within the US military, for example, it is common for investigators to interview a recruit’s neighbors, former employers, and classmates. These systematic screenings provide a more complete understanding of an individual’s character, behavior, and mental state. Yet, comprehensive background checks are not perfect either and tend to be very resource intensive.

While background checks are an important vetting tool, the expert forensic psychology consulting team at IMG recommends psychological screening as an additional method of rooting out potential extremist infiltrators. After all, many terrorists have a history of mental and emotional instability and psychological screenings could spot these issues early on. Moreover, such screening techniques, if used periodically over the course of an individual’s career, could help spot warning signs of radicalization and allow officials to intervene before the situation deteriorates. The IMG Group’s Forensic Psychology consulting team believes that instituting psychological screenings, along with other security measures, could help the German Army more effectively weed out would-be extremists from its ranks.

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The IMG Group’s top forensic psychology consulting experts have extensive experience in employee hiring, background checks, and psychological screening. To learn more about the solutions offered by IMG, please visit:

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The IMG Group is a leading international security consulting firm with considerable experience in international meeting security, crisis management consulting and psychological screening. Corporate or business organizations concerned about their need for global security expertise can reach out to the IMG Group for assistance. The company’s expert security consultants provide services such as employee travel security, VIP and executive travel security, international meeting security, workplace violence consulting, corporate risk assessment and more.

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