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Germany's rules of disengagement in Afghanistan

Marc Young · 15 Dec 2009, 17:27

Published: 15 Dec 2009 17:27 GMT+01:00

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It’s not looking good for Col. Georg Klein at the moment.

The Bundeswehr officer responsible for calling a controversial air strike on September 4 in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz appears to have made a flawed, lonely decision that resulted in several civilian casualties.

According to secret military documents released by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks on Monday, Klein relied solely on remote reconnaissance before having NATO jets bomb two fuel trucks hijacked by the Taliban. The colonel and his air control officer also apparently overruled the concerns of US pilots who wanted to use low-flying passes to scare people away before attacking.

The incident has already sparked the resignations of the Bundeswehr’s top officer, Wolfgang Schneiderhan, and one of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet ministers, former Defence Minster Franz Josef Jung, amid allegations they withheld information about the civilian deaths. But Klein’s blunder could also have repercussions of far graver consequence for Berlin's military engagement in the strife-torn country.

Sadly it has taken the tragic events surrounding the air strike to expose Germany’s half-hearted approach in Afghanistan: having soldiers there is fine as long as they aren’t expected to fight and kill anyone.

Certainly, Klein never meant to cause the deaths of innocent Afghans – he apparently thought there was an imminent threat to German troops stationed near Kunduz. Unfortunately, Germany’s willfully opaque rules of engagement for the Bundeswehr make it difficult to determine if the colonel actually overstepped his authority to call such a strike in the first place.

After years of denial during which German troops were touted as merely being part of a heavily-armed reconstruction effort, Berlin tinkered with its military strategy last spring to allow the Bundeswehr to engage in more offensive action in Afghanistan. However, it failed at the time to open another front back home in the fight for public opinion.

Knowing the Bundeswehr’s deployment in Afghanistan is highly unpopular, the German government still refuses to say its troops are “at war” with the Taliban and their al-Qaida terrorist cohorts. Berlin has also consistently rejected calls to have the Bundeswehr join US, British, Canadian, Dutch and other troops bearing the brunt of heavier fighting in the southern part of the country.

This is a disservice to both Germany’s NATO allies and the already considerable sacrifices made by German men and women in uniform.

Undisputedly there is a still strong sentiment in German society that says the country’s troops should never again be aggressors. This is both understandable and even admirable in light of Germany’s troubled past. However, no one can realistically compare the Bundeswehr’s mission in Afghanistan to the darker chapters of German history. And allowing the country to descend into chaos and become a staging base for Islamist terrorists is simply not an option.

Germany’s NATO allies must be doubly dismayed by the Klein incident. Not only will they regret the civilian loss of life and how the Germans have bungled the air strike’s aftermath, but they are now faced with the possibility Berlin will lose its stomach for fighting in the face of growing public opposition to the military deployment.

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And this after they have pushed Germany for years to allow the Bundeswehr to become more involved in combat operations.

Instead of hoping the Kunduz air strike debacle will go away, Chancellor Merkel’s government must now step up and explain to Germans why their troops are in Afghanistan. Berlin also needs to allow them to engage the enemy alongside its western and Afghan allies.

And if the government can’t make a good enough case to both the German people and parliament for a more robust mandate for its military mission in Afghanistan, the Bundeswehr should be withdrawn.

Sitting on the fence with the Hindu Kush alight in the distance will simply no longer suffice.

Marc Young (marc.young@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:30 December 15, 2009 by Frenemy
Congratulations Mr. Young, you just single-handedly rescued thelocal.de's journalistic reputation....so there ARE some real writers left in the office after all, huh?! I'm pleasantly surprised. (you should ask for a raise!!)

lol..."Germany¦#39;s willfully opaque rules of engagement"....Indeed! (The only word missing is "detrimental")
18:50 December 15, 2009 by Major B
What a bunch of whining crap!!! Many have done horrble things in the past. We pay for our crimes. Then we are rehabilitated, hopefully, like the German nation. Here these civilians in a "war zone" go to get some free gas from a stolen truck and expect no consequences. Then, everybody and their brother cries and beats themselves up endlessly. Maybe this period of close examination is necessary for a few years in the long quest for normalcy as a nation.
19:19 December 15, 2009 by Frenemy
Major B, I thought we agreed that you weren't gonna depress me with...ummm, what u call 'em again? oh yeah...FACTS anymore!? Commentary redirect--->tell me about how everyone in the world would never wanna hurt me or my family because I wouldn't. Or maybe you could tell me about how those guys who prefer semtex to cotton when shopping for a nice vest would leave me alone if I forced my wife to wear hijab....

No?? Fine then, you evil man you know what MajorB? I find it totally unacceptable that you believe people should be allowed to defend themselves!

....I'm going back to my war-protest/education-policy reform rally now!!

(j/k....of course. Cheers bud!!)
19:50 December 15, 2009 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
Colonel Klein should be promoted, not prosecuted. We have to finally recognize that the Taliban are the enemy. Enemy, as in, armed combatants intent on the destruction of our nation. As such, they need to be engaged with extreme prejudice and destroyed. All this blithering non-sense about it being a reconstruction operation - garbage! It's a war, and we need to act like it's a war. Send over a couple of dozen regiments of Pzg with copious armor and air support and clean house. This game of footsie we're playing with the enemy is absolutely ridiculous. I'm not sure how to express it more clearly, so forgive the bold and let me state it one more time: WE ARE IN A STATE OF WAR.
20:21 December 15, 2009 by So36
Regardless how many Taliban were killed in the attack, you don't promote people for incompetently incinerating 80 innocent people.
20:38 December 15, 2009 by Henckel
80 innocent people incinerated ... How about the 25,000 (at the least estimate) incinerated at Dresden in 1954? And 30,000 at Hamburg in 1943? Moreover, who's to say these "civilians" were not adherants of the Taliban? In places like Vietnam, Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan, the enemy combatants and the civilians have tended to be almost indistinguishable, by sight anyway.
05:19 December 16, 2009 by jena
I'm with you Der Grenadier. We're playing footsie with people who need to be shut down for good with the greatest possible military force.
09:37 December 16, 2009 by DoubleDTown
I hadn't heard anywhere else (yet) that U.S. pilots wanted to make initial passes to scare people off. If so, Germany should be thankful the U.S. media isn't rubbing that in; and German media should be ashamed of not making more of it.
16:41 December 16, 2009 by Frenemy
@so36: how about "competently" killing 80 people?? (purple hearts, medals of honor, and certainly no stars on a wall have ever been awarded to people pointlessly debating comparative philosophy through a haze of bong smoke in some European hostel room....)
18:01 December 16, 2009 by So36
Don't be a jackass. Some of those 80 civilians were children aged 8 to 12.
18:20 December 16, 2009 by Frenemy
Well then I would call that bad parenting.

If you wanna go steal someone's fuel in an active combat zone, don't bring your kids along for the ride!! (eg. you think our combat troops have a "bring your kid to work day"???)
19:40 December 16, 2009 by Henckel
Sorry about the typo -- the Dresden firebombing was in 1945, of course. Regarding the age of the persons killed at Kunduz, remember that in that culture some youngsters have wielded weapons when in their teens or preteens. Read "Retreat from Kabul" and other histories of how ferocious Afghans of all ages were in the campaigns of 1838-42 and 1878-80.
22:05 December 16, 2009 by Frenemy
@[the bad-ass looking dude in the picture]:

please call customer service ("logistics") and ask why you have not been issued a throat-mike ;-) ....tell them that this is simply unacceptable.
23:01 December 16, 2009 by bernie1927
I just don't get it. Why is Germany, a country that is not allowed to be a member of the security council, willing to participate in Afghanistan? Germany is still being treated as an enemy nation but is good enough to finish the debacle that Bush started. Why not go whole hog and have Germany help Israel murder people in Gaza??
02:06 December 17, 2009 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
Yes, we are still considered an enemy nation by many. That is, however, irrelevant. Afghanistan is not Iraq; the Taliban and Al-Queda were, and are, global thinkers, not a regional threat. They need to be eliminated in their entirety, or they will just keep coming back for more.

If you approach a fuel truck clad head to toe in alliance markings, and your third cousin, twice removed, is standing next to it with a machine gun, that tells any reasonable human being that the damned thing is not on the up and up. That is your cue to turn around and go back where you came from if you are not an enemy combatant.

As for flying over and scaring people away - yeah, let'd do that. And in the process, let's scare the people that we want to be dropping ordinance on in the first place. That should work out really well, militarily..you know, seeing as how this is A WAR. I am not even going to get started on all that information that was released about which KSK groups were involved in target acquisition, etc, which is borderline treason in and of itself - revealing what friendly troops are doing, and where, is like painting a gigantic target on their backs. Thanks a lot for that, press. Operational security went out the window with that. Did nobody ever consider that maybe there were good, strategic reasons for not revealing some of the information behind the airstrike? Or that maybe we still don't know the full story, and that the attorneys don't either? It is, after all, A WAR.

Look, these morons took two planes and crashed them into civilian infrastructure killing 2,976 people, and injuring over 6,000. It was an international building, and a fair number of Germans were killed, as well - and a fair number of children. And half the muslim world cheered about it!

So, if you ask me, am I sorry that civilians were killed in the air strike? Of course I am. Would I prefer that the target hadn't been engaged, and the bad guys got away? Absolutely not. That is a valid enemy target, and the people who associated in the area knew it for what it was, and Colonel Klein made the right decision. No comfort or aid to the enemy, in the form of missile launchers or a truck full of fuel. I just hope that this absolute media-induced stupidity doesn't stop the next fatefully placed european colonel from ordering an engagement when he finds it appropriate.
07:12 December 17, 2009 by Barry James
Der Grenadier. Correct on all counts. I have posted previously, that I thought Colonel Klein received a 'raw deal'. There should be more leaders like him there not less. I too am sorry about the civilians caught up in this tragedy, however, there is no such thing as a 'PC War". Also, people should remember, WE did not fly civilian aircraft into any of their buildings. As the Japanese found out after Pearl Harbor, 'it is not wise to awaken a sleeping tiger'.
09:33 December 17, 2009 by So36
@frenemy and henckel: your attempts to justify the deaths of children are pathetic.
10:50 December 17, 2009 by abemarch
Fighting in Afghanistan is a no win situation. We're wasting money and lives needlessly. If 1/3 of the money spent on the military was used for education and providing jobs, there would be progress. The majority of the people are illiterate.

Foreign troops are resisted, and rightfully so. Fighting an elusive enemy in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Pakistan is the same thing. It is just another diversion from the real problem that exists between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Germany's stance as non-aggressor is admired when convenient. Getting them involved in acts of aggression helps to spread the blame and are an easy target for criticism. When will we ever learn?
15:45 December 17, 2009 by Wabit
If on getting lucky and on discovering the Hideout of Osama Bin Laden, which is seen to be encircled by a ring of little Boys and Girls..... Do we then hold off any idea of an Air Strike? And perhaps organise a convoy of trucks and lorries to take the little Boys and Girls to safety and hand them over to their parents loving arms?

Is it then and only then that we call an Air Strike to take out the whole site. Or are there yet other considerations to take into account? Like errrr ummmm must it not be done on a Holy day? Or must we wait until a special festival has ended? And of course we must be aware of the conditions of the time scale between Sunrise and Sunset? And lastly but by no means not least, do we arrange for a Flyover across the site first to drop leafl;etc telling all persons inside the Hideout to leave the area if they do not wish to be hurt by falling debris??

Actually I've just discovered that there is something even more important and that is my morning cup of Tea.... Please do continue with what ever it is that you do here..... It always makes for a good read :-)
16:06 December 17, 2009 by Henckel
@So36: The deaths of children are not justified -- so long as they are non-combatants. But what would you do if an enemy co-opted civilians and children into their forces? And the Taliban (and Saddam Hussein before them) have not been above using civilians as human shields. Civilian casualties are regrettable, but unavoidable. That is war. They way the war in Afghanistan has been conducted far more humanely, by NATO forces at least, than past wars. Consider, for instance, what happened in 1631 when Graf Tilly stormed Magdeburg and 20,000 were massacred.
16:18 December 18, 2009 by Badger1911
How many civilians were there actually? Real civilians, mind you. Not Taliban supporters. Not AQ supporters. Not islamo-fascists. Real civilians.

I still say Col. Klein did the right thing.

How do we know these people were innocent? Why is everybody so willing to believe what the Taliban says?

And why isn't anybody talking about the men in the concoy, who were butchered by the Talis? Why isn't anybody talking about what the Talis would have done with the fuel trucks?

Get this one thing into your head: this is war. It's them or us.
17:41 December 18, 2009 by Frenemy

"How do we know these people were innocent? Why is everybody so willing to believe what the Taliban says?"

Because the Taliban NEVER lies and has an excellent human-rights track-record. And because groups like the Red Cross ALWAYS give the military the benefit of the doubt! No one ever told you this? ;-)

"why isn't anybody talking about the men in the con[v]oy"

Because we in the west demonize the people willing to fight for us, while our enemies view THEIR fighters as heroes/martyrs/etc.
20:10 December 18, 2009 by bernie1927

You say "it's them or us"

Tell me What's "us" doing there?

You seem to have bought into Bush's idea that the Taliban had something to do with 911? They didn't

Remember when the "bad" Russians were bogged down in Afghanistan, we helped this scum against them, and now we're paying for our meddling and get our boys killed with the very weapons we supplied. Great strategists. Why do you think we are so much disliked over there? How would you feel if the situation were reversed?
23:52 December 18, 2009 by Frenemy
"Bush's idea"??!!! Bernie1927, are you some sort of militant Islamist?!

Are you kidding me?? "W" may have been an idiot, but it certainly wasn't some fantasy he dreamed up on Crawford Ranch!!!

al-Qaeda sends people to fly planes into buildings ---> Afgahnistan hosts the training camps for AQ, which are authorised/endorsed/encouraged by the anti-Western/Islamist Taliban government ----> Taliban=responsible (where is the confusion here?)
17:53 December 19, 2009 by Henckel
@Badger911: Exactly the point I was driving at. To those who disagree I would ask, "If a kid pointed a gun at you, or lobbed a hand grenade, what would you do? That has been the dilemma through the years, in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. Think of the teens who were drafted from the Hitlerjugend in the last months of World War II. What would you have done, if one had charged at you with a Sturmgewehr or Panzerfaust or hand grenade?"
18:14 December 19, 2009 by Frenemy

you engage the little bastards with a SMAW-LP(lollipop) launcher. Fresh out of WilliWonka SkunkWorks (features multi-purpose high-taste chupachup warhead)
23:03 December 19, 2009 by bernie1927
Well, well. It's obvious that neither one of you 2 (Henckel and Frenemy) has seen any combat. To compare any WW2 situation with the present dilemma is ridiculous. The HJ soldiers towards the end of the war were uniformed and thereby easily identifiable in contrast to the present situation. We are not talking about teenagers getting killed but little kids. Your insensitive and uncaring remarks make me feel that you haven't learned a damn thing. Your prejudice is showing and it's ugly. Shame on you.
23:24 December 19, 2009 by Frenemy
haven't we? Well, OK.... Lets just talk historical facts then.

By "HJ", I assume you are talking about the Hitler Youth? Those boys were DECADES ahead of their time in asymmetric warfare tactics!! "Uniformed"? ...only if they were suicidal (which I grant you, some of them, in fact, were).

But, in the Battle for Berlin (1945) for example, most of those kids knew damn well that abiding by the Geneva Convention (in terms of uniform) was tantamount to a death sentence....
02:34 December 20, 2009 by bernie1927
Well, Frenemy, you seem like a really nice guy. I hope you are not offended by my smartass remarks, but I did see some action in WW2 and I have a deep seated pacifist streak. Maybe that explains a lot and maybe you can forgive this old geezer his opinions. If you want to get to know me better, you can go to YouTube and look up my videos under "Bernie1927" that tell you all about my experiences in WW2 and since then.

Let's shake on it, okay?

Have a great holiday
08:34 December 20, 2009 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
Anyone who thinks Germany got "sucked into this" is delusional. "Ignoring" Al-Queda & Co isn't going to keep anyone from being a target. The stated goal of Al-Queda - that is, publicly spoken, on several accounts, to several audiences, and obviously also confirmed by action - is to create a pan-global Islamic Caliphate. I don't know about you guys, but I really like having freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and equal rights for women. The notion that we, or anyone, can stay out of this fight is completely uneducated and utterly impossible. We essentially have a choice; we can engage the enemy now, there, in a manageable scope, or we can wait and have it be much painful later.
17:44 December 20, 2009 by Frenemy

I "seem like a really nice guy"?? Ouch, that hurts buddy! Especially since I've been trying so very hard to cultivate more of a "rude prick" image around here!! (I must not be trying hard enough) ;-) Best wishes right back at ya!
16:16 December 21, 2009 by Henckel
@ bernie1927: No, I have not served in the military, but many of my family have -- in the Prussian army (campaigns of 1812-15 and 1870-71), Tsarist Russian army (1905 revolution), US Army (WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada), US Navy (WW2), US Marine Corps (Vietnam). And, I am by trade an historian.

Concerning pacifism, I would say, "Show me a pacifist and I'll show you a man who will meekly allow his enemy to cut his throat."
07:34 December 22, 2009 by Frenemy
I just posted this on another thread, but I feel its worth re-posting here too, especially with regard to this whole fuel-tanker debacle.


The paper is a bit dated, but it addresses all the important points (it also has the unique benefit of not being classified, lol )
08:58 December 22, 2009 by wenddiver
Glad so many of you seem to understand the problem. There really is no way to give in to the Taliban, it really is a "Victory or Death" situation.

I can't believe that nobody has considered the weapon potential of those two tankers in a war of suicide bombers. Those two things going off could have destroyed that whole base. Individually broken up there was enough fuel there to keep the Taliban supplied with Molotov Cocktails and killing people and Armor for the next decade.

The destruction of the fuel was regretable, but balanced by the killing of some very dangerous insugents. Additionally, the air strike prevented any additional casulties as a ground assualt would have required. Who is to say the German kids doing the ground assualt would not have been killed when the Talliban blew the truck???

Colonel Klein made the right decision, strategically, tactically, and from a humanitarian standpoint. Why did the Talliban go to that village with the trucks?? To show and recruit amongst supporters.

We should try and get him sometype of medal, for making a very hard call correctly.

We should form a Facebook site or something to support the Colonel and his men, who have been given the most ridiculous rules of engagement. This would be a worthwhile effort for Germans, Americans, Britons, Dutch, Danes, Poles, and Ukrainian civilians and everybody else fighting for Freedom in Afganistan.

Oh and I forgot as anybody who has been there will tell you, the Majority of Afgans are on Freedom's side also.
17:36 December 22, 2009 by lordwilliams629
I seen combat in iraq, and and although I wasn't in ww2 like bernie, you can't understand what its like untill your there. I think the pressure I had to deal with by always watching my actions around the local iraqis made it much harder. Before raising your weapon at a person you had to also know it was justified, at the same time always worrying about being hit around next corner or worst, out in the open. Bernie's the type of man I look up to he fought in war where men was not allowed to murder yet a soldier didn't have to wonder if he was going to be prosecuted for killing the enemy. One thing that's the same now as it was then, is back then the enemy didn't worry who they killed yet we did, and that fact still stands true to this day.
18:40 December 22, 2009 by Frenemy

If (and that's a really big IF) you ever actually served in the (US) military, then I think that calls for an urgent re-evaluation of ASVAB requirements!!!
19:00 December 22, 2009 by Henckel
Of course, there's always the question of who will charge war crimes if they were committed by the winning power. My great-great-grandfather was serving in the Prussian I Corps in January 1871 when they captured an entire battalion of French Gardes Mobiles near Rouen. Now the German commander didn't recognize Gardes Mobiles as legitimate combatants, and in line with standing orders from Helmuth von Moltke to shoot all francs-tireurs (guerillas in modern terms), the entire battalion of Gardes Mobiles was executed.
19:44 December 22, 2009 by Frenemy
@Henckel: Indeed, martial/ethical rectitude is determined by the winner. However, the winner is also sometimes determined by martial/ethical rectitude (or lack thereof). For example, it would have been in Germany's strategic best-interests to massacre the sh!t out of every living person at Dunkirk in WWII, but for whatever reason you wanna believe, Hitler stayed his hand (and then most of those surviving Allied troops ended up being used in Operation Overlord)....ooops!
22:10 December 22, 2009 by bernie1927
@Frenemy: You are absolutely correct. I remember the Dunkirk affair. I was in Germany then. 14 years old and raring to go. You know, young and stupid. It was probably Hitler's biggest mistake. He honestly believed, against the advice of all his generals, that England could be persuaded to stay out of the war. He actually had a soft spot for the English. One reason was that the crown prince seemed to have some positive feelings regarding Hitler. Hitler wanted to let the English "save face". What a colossal mistake that turned out to be.
23:08 December 22, 2009 by lordwilliams629
Frenemy, look i'm not one who thinks the whole world should kiss my a..ss cause i'm a vet or would I ever claim to be some kind of hero as you seem to petray yourself when claiming to be a mercenary or some kind of James Bond the goverment dont like. If your american what you need to do is quit running down other vets, the whole reason I latched on to you in the first place, is because of your totally idiotic statement about the american pilot, insinuating he was some kind of rat, when in reality as someone who never served you had no idea of what you where talking about. I mean if you also notice your first attack on me is my military service,to be honest you sound like a person who lives in world of fantasy and jealousy.

Anyway to you bernie1927, i'm interested in your story you say you where born in germany, so did you serve on the german side? where you hitler youth? what area's did serve or fight in? i'm not trying insult or disrespect you even if you served on the german side, you just sound like person with an interesting story to tell.
23:20 December 22, 2009 by Frenemy
Yep. The way I see it (in terms of military prudence), Karl Doenitz should have been treated to a Zyklon-B spa/sauna/shower, while Operation Sea Lion ought to have been bumped to the top of the strategic (priority) agenda. ....(that V2 bullsh!t was just as delusional as Arthur "Bomber" Harris' and Curtis LeMay's strategic bombing doctrine...what a crock!!)
23:43 December 22, 2009 by lordwilliams629
bernie1927, I do have to admit your statements about 9/11, are very much untrue. It's fact, rather you like bush or not, the taliban had a connection to 9/11 by refusing to give up bin laden, and when you call this thing bush's idea your also wrong. This whole thing happend as result of some lunatics who came up with the idea of knocking down our buildings, see the ideas came from them. But anyway bernie1927 my parents always told me to respect my elders and thats what I do so although we disagree I won't attack you out of that respect, but as I read your thoughts much closer I see how wrong you are, and as man of your age it suprises me that much more.
00:51 December 23, 2009 by lordwilliams629
No problem frenemy, but when it comes to other vets try to keep your comments to yourself, you never served and it's not you who keeps americans free. Just think frenemy the freedom those guys give you and your 275 pound old lady makes it possible for both of you to keep sitting on your lazy a..sses in your 100 dollar a month trailer, with your cheap case of daily beer. Oh and lets not forget about your wifes one month supply of cheetoz bought and paid for with good old american food stamps.
01:22 December 23, 2009 by Frenemy
Haven't you figured out that I'm not American, you @$$cl0wn??!! I don't work for you, or your pathologically obese, and technologically dependent countrymen! (I'm GERMAN, numbnuts!! And I live in GERMANY! Try to get that through your [1st gen American] thick skull!)
02:16 December 23, 2009 by bernie1927
My, my!

Temper, temper

Why don't we try to cool down a bit, fellers? Calling each other trailer trash and fat and ugly, especially when it's anonymous, is not all that brave. Wouldn't it be nice if we could meet and shake hands and be friends?

Here is a real life example: I started a retail store some 30 years ago, here in upstate New York. I had to face a situation where my manager got hot under her collar, when an unreasonable customer came in and demanded to return his watch and wanted his money back. She got into a big argument with him and eventually did return the money and took back the watch. The customer left madder than hell and never returned. The lesson that I passed on to my girl was: "Well, tell me, what did you end up doing?" She said: "I gave him back the money."

I then told her that that was what she ended up doing anyway, then why not be nice about it and save the customer, right? I think the lesson stuck and our reputation is sterling to this day. The store is owned by my daughter and her husband today.
02:38 December 23, 2009 by kitten1985
"and allowing the country to descend into chaos and become a staging base for Islamist terrorists is simply not an option." Damn right. There are more important things to worry about than foreign opinion when it comes to military tactics. What will hurt foreign allies opinions of you Germany, is your sitting duck attitude toward terrorists in your neighborhood. Suck it up for Christ sake.
04:40 December 23, 2009 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
Ok, guys? Americans, and my countrymen, let's focus here. At least we share the western tradition, so maybe we can argue about this after we defeat the enemy that's trying to bring the entire world back into the stone age?
05:32 December 23, 2009 by Mick Dee
Here we go again, why don¦#39;t we just see the Situation from a pure intelligent side? Take a Tanker and surround it with Children and some poor innocent ¦quot;civilians¦quot; place both near a German Base and wait for the up coming action. When a couple of Mao Muslims, children and of course absolute innocent civilians get killed, the rest of the Mao Muslims world wide will have a great reason to bomb and terrorise German soil and base facilities in Afghanistan and the rest of the world! But what are we really talking about? Mr Georg Klein who had a complete KSK unit to engage this ¦quot;threat¦quot; or his coward ness not to send these high trained Troopers in to combat? How easy is it to ask US FORCES for air support and even if the Pilot asked 5 times for the permission to overfly he gave the order of attack! Despite the fact that such air raids are very common in modern war fare to save and protect the lives of the own, the truck would have need to be converted and armed to be used a ¦quot;mobile bomb¦quot;. This time would have been enough to engage and neutralize the threat. OK Germany, when are we going to face the fact that this war is now a part of us? What are we worried about, this is a non-belligerent liberation war! The German intervention is in no way against their constitution! Get Mr. Klein out of command and replace him with a confident senior Chief of Command who has the experience and guts to make right decisions. Well I guess this is the problem, after 1945 Germany was never in combat so were would you take such a senior Officer from? Any way, the decisions made by Klein does not reflect the code of honour! In my opinion he misfired and screwed the job!!!!
06:49 December 23, 2009 by wenddiver
To weaponize a tanker all you have to do is produce Gasoline vapor (very slight opening of tap), Gasoline is very stable when a liquid, but becomes very explosive when vaporized and then produce a spark(try firing into vapor with incidiary ammoe or steel core Ammo, very posible with the AK-47s the Talliban carry.

Terrorists used a tanker as a weapon against the housing for Americans and Europeans in Saudi Arabia. I believe it was called the Anbar Tower incident. Very destructice.
10:52 December 23, 2009 by Mick Dee
No full metal jacket will egnite any fumes Bloke!!! The tanker on Anbar Tower was equipped with explosives to detonate! Sorry, mate I know were you come from and understand your thinking. Its time to understand that all this is a serius matter, no time to explain civilian deaths. Its time to demolish the taliban and not children.
14:31 December 23, 2009 by Frenemy
Mick Dee is correct. Not even a tracer round will ignite combustibles. (actually, I think "Myth Busters" did a show about this some time ago. If someone feels like looking this up on YouTube, please post a link, I'd love to see that again...)
20:01 December 23, 2009 by Henckel
@Frenemy: Re being from Germany, I'm the third generation of my family born in the USA, but you might not think so if you met me. I was raised by my grandparents, and my grandfather was born here, but his father and grandfather were German immigrants. So I picked up a terribly heavy Ostpreussische accent. And, being raised by my grandparents, I was from an early age in both cultures, American and German. Rather like the Indian-born Englishman who is "more English than the English." (Ironic, isn't it, that there was no England, so to speak, until Germans from Angeln in the Dano-Scheswig peninsula invaded Britain in the 5th century?)
22:15 December 23, 2009 by Frenemy

You don't have to explain yourself to me!!!I I'm pure German ethnically/culturally, etc....but you would never guess that based on my appearance [because I'm not ethnically/racially "typical">!)Superficiality is dangerous!!
22:42 December 23, 2009 by Henckel
@Frenemy: Thanks for the reassurance!!! Since about 1917 it has been very popular to be a German in the USA (e.g., the Germania Club in Milwaukee renamed itself the Wisaconsin Club in 1917. It's a men's club in downtown Milwaukee, occupying the former home of the grandfather of Gen. Billy Mitchell).
23:58 December 23, 2009 by Frenemy
Really? How so?! (who are you talking about?)

(The only Bill Mitchell I know of was a physicist, and he died a few years ago....in England)
17:38 December 26, 2009 by Henckel
@ Frenemy: Brigadier General William Mitchell (1879-1936) was the father of US air power, more particularly the doctrine of strategic bombing. The airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is named for him, as was the B-25 Mitchell bomber of the US Army Air Force. His grandfather, Alexander Mitchell (d. 1887) was a railroad builder, president of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad (which in 1928 became the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific -- it was merged into the Soo Line in 1985). Alexander Mitchell's home on Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee became the home of the Germania Club, a men's club of predominantly German-American posting. The point of my comment was that anti-German sentiment in the USA became so severe in 1917 that the Germania Club meekly renamed itself the Wisconsin Club, the name it bears today.

Incidentally, there was a German Workingmen's Aid Society in Ludington, Michigan, from 1876 until 1937, but its activity was practically dormant from 1917, again prompted by anti-German sentiment during and after WW1.

Those were the days when various German-themed foods were renamed because of the USA's entry into WW1. The name "Victory cabbage" for sauerkraut was dropped after the war, but the change from German toast to French toast proved permanent.

I'm a historian, don't forget, so you're liable to get more information than you expected!!!
20:26 December 26, 2009 by Frenemy
....good stuff!

But I thought it was Curtis LeMay who was credited as the father of stratobombing (?)
16:34 December 27, 2009 by Henckel
@Frenemy: Curtis LeMay was the one who actually carried it out, against Germany and then against Japan. Mitchell advocated it as early as 1921, when he sank the surrendered German battleship Ostfriesland using aircraft. In his impatience to see the doctrine adopted, he made statements about the military establishment that led to his court-martial in 1925. Convicted and reduced in rank to colonel, he died in 1936 at the age of 57, never having seen his theories tested in combat. LeMay did not, and continued to carry them forward through the Cold War as head of the Strategic Air Command.
17:31 December 31, 2009 by panzercommandant@live.com
I think that officer made a good decision he saved pecious German lives by calling that strike!! civillian casulties are a part of war and they will happen.
19:31 December 31, 2009 by joeschafe
For the first time ever, I was compelled by this string of comments to register and add my own two cents. The dialogue here has been the most entertaining (and informative) I have ever had the pleasure of reading- although I was happy to see it return to a degree of civility. Personally, I find myself supporting the Colonels' decision. He was at the sharp end of the stick, with no luxury for debate or second-guessing.
12:12 January 1, 2010 by Frenemy
Speaking of the "the sharp end of the stick"...

There will probably be no coverage on here about this because people will no doubt (mistakenly) view this as a US-only event, but I feel compelled to make a seemingly unconnected comment in tribute to the recent wall-stars at OHB Langley, VA.

23:01 January 2, 2010 by wenddiver
Funny how the Left didn't have a single problem with theTaliban killing at least 90 people at a volleyball event in Pakistan. I guess those civilian lives aren't worth as much, since Germany supports them.
14:40 January 3, 2010 by Frenemy
@wenddiver: please clarify
09:33 January 4, 2010 by wenddiver
@Frenemy- Gladly, thanks for the opportunity.

Certain elements in the West blast every Military decision on the part of the NATO forces fighting for Fredom in Afganistan, they credit all civillian cassualties to our side.

But last week a suicide bomber crashed his car into a group of people celebrating in Pakistan and blew himself up! Ninety civilians were killed. This was deliberate targetting of civilians and no budy in the western press said anything bad about these Talliban aligned crazies.

We only nit pick and harras our own troops
11:59 January 4, 2010 by Frenemy
ah ok! I knew you were a "friendly" but the sarcasm in post #67 made me question my "cyber IFF" if you know what I mean.... ;-)
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