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SPD rules out support for Afghan combat troop increase

DPA/The Local · 19 Dec 2009, 13:23

Published: 19 Dec 2009 13:23 GMT+01:00

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SPD chairman Gabriel told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that the party would “not give its support to additional combat troops beyond the current ceiling.”

There was “already an imbalance between combat troops and civil reconstruction workers,” he said, adding there should be more of the latter and rejecting suggestions Germany's army, the Bundeswehr, should get tougher militarily.

“Whoever is demanding a ‘more robust mandate for a combat operation’ wants the emphasis of the Bundeswehr mission to shift towards greater military violence and more dead on all sides,” he said.

The United States and NATO are calling on Germany to boost its current troop ceiling of 4,500, though Chancellor Angela Merkel has refused to commit to an increase before an international conference on Afghanistan to be held in January.

Meanwhile, SPD parliamentary leader Thomas Oppermann said the “serious crisis of confidence” stemming from the Kunduz affair could even throw into doubt his party’s support for all future foreign deployments of German soldiers.

He told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung: “The Bundestag must be able to count on getting precise and comprehensive information from the government. There is significant doubt about that.”

Together, the SPD leaders’ tough line on deployments constitute a major shift in what has been an effective bipartisanship on Afghanistan between them and their main conservative rivals, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.

The German-ordered airstrike on two stranded tankers on September 4 killed at least 142 people, including an unknown number of civilians. The then Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung, the army chief Wolfgang Schneiderhan and a senior defence bureaucrat all resigned over the affair after it emerged the government had knowingly misled the public by claiming no civilians had been killed.

Current Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is also under close scrutiny over possible discrepancies between what he knew after taking over the portfolio and what he told the public.

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Germany’s lower house, the Bundestag, will begin an inquiry into the affair in January.

SPD general secretary Andrea Nahles told broadcaster Deutschlandradio Kultur on Saturday that Merkel had to make it clearer to the parliament what exactly was expected of the German army in Afghanistan.

Lately, Merkel and her government have come under attack for the cloudy rules of engagement under which German troops are operating.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:07 December 19, 2009 by Frenemy
"Current Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is also under close scrutiny over possible discrepancies between what he knew after taking over the portfolio and what he told the public."

THIS JUST IN: Defense Minister withholds Secret/Top-Secret information from the general public!! Wow, imagine that?!
18:13 December 19, 2009 by Henckel
Good ... Since the NATO rules of engagement preclude an all-out war against the Taliban and al Qaida, it would be better if the Bundeswehr and the other NATO troops were pulled out of Afghanistan rather than continue this military farce. Obama won't even define victory in this war.
18:34 December 19, 2009 by Frenemy
Henckel, fighting these clowns over here is gonna be really messy and u know it.

Even the most basic containment measures I can think of, just off the top of my head, would result in Orwellian nightmares for some of these left-wing fundies....

[don't get me wrong, I don't want a big-brother society anymore than the next guy, but once the battle-hardened boyz from Afghanistan start seamlessly blending in to Western society, while retaining their religious/cultural extremist beliefs...such measures will become inevitable]
02:44 December 20, 2009 by bernie1927
For starters, why don't you start putting the brakes on immigration and the building of mosques, like the Swiss did? You are inviting sleepers into the country, for sure. You guys don't have to worry about the terrorists coming over; you've been inviting them all along.
16:28 December 20, 2009 by Frenemy
Shutting the proverbial stable door after the (militant) horse has bolted (infiltrated)??? I'm afraid we're a little beyond that.

At this point, damage-control is the name of the game...
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