“Many highly-qualified soldiers are getting out because the profession is no longer attractive to them,” Robbe told German daily Bild on Monday. “They're called into deployment too often, and earn less than their civilian colleagues, but they're putting their lives and health on the line.”
The Bundeswehr and government policy must react quickly, Robbe said. “It's already five past twelve,” he said, adding that friendly indifference won't be enough. “The soldiers put their necks out for German interests, therefore they have a right to expect the most in protection, the best equipment and our moral backing.”
In a few weeks the German parliament is set to decide on an extension of the country's Afghanistan mandate, a clear approval of which is fundamentally important, Robbe told the paper.
German soldiers have been the object of several attacks in recent weeks as violence intensifies in Afghanistan, where some 3,500 troops are deployed as part of the NATO military alliance's ISAF. A German soldier was killed recently when an IED (improvised explosive device) exploded next to an eight-vehicle German convoy patrolling the outskirts of Kunduz where the German military has its base. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Another deadly incident also stoked growing domestic opposition to the German deployment in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan after German troops killed two children and a woman at a security checkpoint.