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Deadly air strike colonel to be promoted
Photo: DPA

Deadly air strike colonel to be promoted

Published: 09 Aug 2012 12:39 GMT+02:00
Updated: 09 Aug 2012 12:39 GMT+02:00

The German officer who ordered an air strike that killed more than 100 Afghan civilians and cost the jobs of the defence minister, the head of the army and a senior state secretary, is to be promoted to general next year.

Colonel Georg Klein, 51, has been offered a job as division director in the new federal office for personnel management, a position that includes an automatic promotion to general.

The post is being created by the merger of the army’s military and civilian personnel departments. He is currently working in the military section, but is expected to take up the new job next spring.

In September 2009, Klein ordered a NATO air strike on two oil tanker trucks in Kunduz that killed over 100 Afghans, most of whom are thought to have been civilians.

Klein was investigated by German state prosecutors, though the investigation was dropped, and the Bundeswehr also dropped any disciplinary proceedings after several months.

The promotion effectively absolves him of any wrongdoing, even though his seniors were sacked following the scandal.

The Kunduz affair cost the job of Labour Minister Franz Josef Jung, who was defence minister at the time of the attack, after it emerged that he had misinformed parliament about the extent of the killing of innocents. His successor Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg then sacked Bundeswehr Chief of Staff Wolfgang Schneiderhan and Defence Ministry Secretary of State Peter Wichert for allegedly withholding information from him.

Karim Popal, the lawyer representing the victims, has strongly criticized the decision to promote Klein. "The promotion would be a slap in the face for the Afghan civilian population would be like a declaration of war," he told Thursday's edition of the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

Green Party MP Hans-Christian Ströbele, a long-time opponent of Germany's military intervention in Afghanistan, said the "catastrophic bloodbath" that he said Klein was responsible for should rule out any promotion.

An Amnesty International report on the air strike listed 83 names of victims, several of whom were under 16 years old. The report also said many people had died because the usual warning flyovers had been omitted.

The Local/DAPD/DPA/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:02 August 9, 2012 by Landmine
Yet another example that goes to show you that only the screw ups get promoted. Those that know what they are doing have to stay near the botton so things can run.... lol!
14:42 August 9, 2012 by mobaisch
congratulations!
15:59 August 9, 2012 by johnny108
The politics may be wrong, but as a soldier, he was very effective. What's the problem?
16:08 August 9, 2012 by beeker
Right out of Catch 22.
17:01 August 9, 2012 by lucksi
There is a saying in Germany about people like this only falling up the ladder. Does that exist in English too?
19:04 August 9, 2012 by al-Mundane
There are some English idioms that are similar, but I haven't heard any as eloquent as "falling up the ladder." I'll be using that from now on.
19:41 August 9, 2012 by SchwabHallRocks
If the General had been circumcised, this would not have happened, as regular readers of the Local know!
20:02 August 9, 2012 by Mark S.
It's worth remembering that not every soldier who kills civilians has done something wrong. The story says that Klein was investigated but the investigation did not accuse him of doing anything wrong. Those who got sacked were the ones who lied about what happened.

It happens that sometimes civilians are mis-identified as combatants. It happens that sometimes civilians are killed unintentionally. If you can't deal with that, then you can't send your army to a war.
21:15 August 9, 2012 by wxman
The field commander who overly concerns himself with collateral damage as opposed to mission accomplishment and the safety of his troops is ineffective. It has always been thus.
03:00 August 10, 2012 by Edin
This is disgracefull!

If they where only American or German civilians, his arse would be fired to the Moon.This shows how big hypocrits people, are even when it comes to inocent life, civilians, children.

But it is clear from the comments that most of those are from military personel, presumebly US staitioned in Germany. And their list of collaterall damage from Japan - Hiroshima, Vietnam to Afganistan is now larger than entire population of Afganistan.... You must be proud of yourselvs.
06:22 August 10, 2012 by coffeelover
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
12:50 August 10, 2012 by raandy
Mark S. thats sums it up, the incident, as unfortunate as it was , was throughly investigated and determined not to be his fault.
08:09 August 14, 2012 by dr.makni49
Congrats Col for promotion, you did your job for what military expected you to do. Being a soldier myself, I know if a soldier starts indulging in ifs and buts when even the microseconds count heavy, he is reduced to a non-performer.

If fault lies anywhere, it is with the people who sent him in the conflict. Good job done .
19:57 August 16, 2012 by Whipmanager
@dr.makni: You sir have it 100% right.

In this world where the Islamist fighters violate every law to save their precious little war vehicles and warmaking capability, there are going to be collateral deaths.

In Iraq and in Lebanon, Palistine, and many other places, the cowardly warrior hides his arms and weapons in schools, churches, in many places that are illegal. Full well knowing that the minute the infidel aggressor attacks the missile emplacement, or criminal illegal combatant, they will hit innocents. The israelis even started calling the homes of people in the building about to be attacked and telling the innocents to leave ASAP.

People get hurt, but is the target legitimate otherwise? If no innocent civilians were hurt in the attack attributed to the Colonel, would the target have been a good target?

@Edin: They would not have been German or American civilians as we do not hide our arms and weapons amongst the masses. We follow the international rules of engagement and have professional military persons. One might say that the islamist combatants are not aware of rules about hiding guns and things in Mosques, but then one would be kidding themselves. They fight to win, they are not encumbered by rules of Engagement or any conventions that would protect landmarks or children..they want to cause an incident so as to inflame the populaces where they are.

GOd Bless teh Colonel and his promotion. He will be in a position to make a difference and maybe fix the ROE and other problems facing German soldiers having been a victim of them himself.
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