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It's war, says Guttenberg

DPA/The Local · 4 Apr 2010, 17:11

Published: 04 Apr 2010 10:23 GMT+02:00
Updated: 04 Apr 2010 17:11 GMT+02:00

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His comments came as it emerged that Germany's embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad had been hit by a bomb attack, though it appeared not to have been the primary target.

After three Bundeswehr soldiers were killed in a fierce Taliban ambush and German soldiers killed six Afghan allies in a “friendly fire” incident, Guttenberg said it was time to stop playing with language.

Such “empty words” as “non-international armed conflict” and similar expressions diminished the seriousness of the situation, he said.

“You can, in the face of ... what’s happening in Afghanistan, definitely talk colloquially – I stress colloquially – of war,” he said.

German politicians, notably Guttenberg’s predecessor Franz Josef Jung, have long been at pains to avoid the W-word to describe Germany’s involvement in Afghanistan, which remains broadly unpopular at home.

Guttenberg was spurred to make his remarks by the bloodshed of Good Friday, when three German soldiers were killed after their minesweeping convoy was ambushed by at least 100 Taliban insurgents.

Just hours later, a German armoured patrol opened fire on two vehicles carrying allied Afghan soldiers after the vehicles failed to stop, killing six of them.

Guttenberg also promised a full investigation into the friendly fire incident and vowed, "We will stay in Afghanistan."

His comments to journalists in Bonn came as it emerged a bomb attack in Baghdad had killed one Iraqi security guard and injured three others at the German embassy, though the primary targets appeared to have been the nearby Syrian and Egyptian embassies.

Also on Sunday, a former army chief accused the government of failing its troops in Afghanistan.

Harald Kujat, who was the Bundeswehr's Chief of Staff from 2000 to 2002, blasted the government for having learnt nothing from the Kunduz air strike about reconnaissance and communication systems.

There was a “lack of understanding about conditions on the ground and ignorance about the needs of the combat forces,” he told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

“Our soldiers are in this situation only because they – as so often – were not equipped with the necessary modern reconnaissance systems,'' he said of the accidental killing of the six Afghans in Friday's ''friendly fire'' incident.

“The Taliban know the terrain; they have the advantage. You have to somehow compensate for that.”

In the friendly fire incident, there has since been dispute about whether the vehicles were marked as military or civilian. ISAF commander, US General Stanley McChrystal, visited the German Kunduz base on Saturday in a clear demonstration that he took the friendly fire incident very seriously. Afghan authorities has criticised the German military, and a full investigation has been promised.

To better understand the methods of the enemy, the Bundeswehr needed a more effective information and command system for combat, Kujat said. The essential components of this were already available – “only the ministerial bureaucracy is doing nothing,” he said.

He also branded the recent troop boost passed by the Bundestag as a “coalition compromise” that did not meet the strategic needs of the mission.

He predicted further bloodshed for the German army in northern Afghanistan, saying the air strike of last September had sapped their strength but they were now poised for a renewed assault.

“After that, they needed a certain time to set the scene. And now they’re doing just that.”

The dead Bundeswehr soldiers, aged between 25 and 35, were from a paratrooper regiment from Lower Saxony.

Story continues below…

“We all hoped that we would never have to experience these days,” said the ISAF commander for northern Afghanistan, Brigadier Frank Leidenberger at a memorial service on Saturday. “The hope was suddenly shattered on April 2.”

Leidenberger also offered sympathy for the deaths of the Afghan soldiers and confirmed for the first time that it was six soldiers killed, not five as the Bundeswehr had initially stated.

Developoment Minister Dirk Niebel, who extended his trip in Afghanistan to visit the troops in Kunduz, called for Germany as a whole to show greater support to its soldiers. After talking with the troops on Saturday, he told Bild am Sonntag newspaper Friday's gun battle showed how deadly the situation was for German troops.

''They want more understanding that they sometimes, even preventatively, have to defend themselves. And they don’t understand it when they have to justify themselves for this to the German public or even be pursued for prosecution.”

The soldiers at the Kunduz base were due on Sunday to farewell the bodies of their comrades killed on Friday in the fiercest gun battle yet seen between Germans and Taliban insurgents. The three soldiers’ remains were to flown back to Germany on the Airbus that Niebel had been using to visit civil reconstruction projects in the area.

The four seriously wounded German soldiers were flown to Germany on Saturday. They landed at the Cologne-Bonn airport and were transferred immediately to a military hospital at Koblenz.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:14 April 4, 2010 by vonSchwerin
"Afghanistan had to be 'colloquially described as war,' he said."

Now, was that so hard?
20:23 April 4, 2010 by Frenemy
Ha! z.Guttenberg figuring out how to be a real politician?! (openly saying the sh!t that everyone else is privately thinking anyway...)
01:23 April 5, 2010 by berlinski
Guttenberg and Westerwelle should put their heads together and come up with a strategy on how to get soldiers to do the fighting on a Hartz IV €1 Job. Could kill two birds with one stone then by getting the long term unemployed killed off for cheap.
04:09 April 5, 2010 by Major B
The genie is already out of the bottle. It can never be put back in again. The excesses of the past are in the past. Today is in the Now. War it terrible. The evil loves it and enjoys the suffering of all. What is right and what is wrong? One government of all in the NATO coalition tries to do it the "right" way, focusing of civilian training, building schools and emphasizing the PRTs. And, as in every situation in human existence, weakness is taken advantage of.

You know what's funny? Soccer coaches are fired for the kind of strategy and I'm sorry, "fecklessness", that is being displayed. Will a real leader stand up and show this great country how its soldiers are being hamstrung and put at a disadvantage and savagely killed because "we are afraid of what we might do if we take the gloves off". Please
10:18 April 5, 2010 by abemarch
In Korea, it was call a "Police Action". Afterward it was called a war. Does it take a political declaration to make a war?

When armed troops go into battle, it is war.

Is the absense of a declaration of war a method to withdraw without having to face the stigma that we lost?

The war in Afghanistan is not winnable with the use of weapons. The Mongols, the British and the Russians couldn't conquer Afghanistan by force nor will the Allied Forces. The sights must not be set on winning a war, but on winning the hearts and minds of the people. Education is the right way to go. Spend money on providing jobs and on education. Sacrificing the lives of our soldiers and killing innocent civilians is not winning, but losing.
11:32 April 5, 2010 by Bensonradar
Of course it's WAR. And a lot of countries are making good profits selling military equipment and supplies to the Bundeswehr.

Good for Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, call it what it is.

Afghanistan is a medievil, backward and corrupt country run by madmen. Why anyone bothers with them is beyond comprehension. When soldiers get killed, the newspaper headlines report this, but the politicians do nothing.

The utter waste of these soldiers' lives is ridiculous. What were they fighting for?
19:40 April 5, 2010 by kinggeorge629@gmail.com
Frenemy "please" don't use the word sh..t there is upstanding gentalman such as me in this forum that will not tolerate such talk, please do not talk as a cretin would.
20:28 April 5, 2010 by Hebbellover
I wonder what we are going to call it when there is combat in the streets of Frankfurt, berlin, Hamburg, etc?
21:16 April 5, 2010 by Frenemy

Hahahaha!! Are you kidding me?! (I know I'm not the only one here currently laughing their "cretin" ballz off, old man)!!

I suspect that the only thing "upstanding" about you, my geriatric compadre, is your Johnson (after you pop a few V!agra). I could thoroughly destroy you, intellectually, any day of the week, but I doubt you'd be worth my while...)
23:59 April 5, 2010 by kinggeorge629@gmail.com
Thats what I love about you frenemy your so full of sh.it it's not even funny. Aren't you going to give me your james bond bit, you know the one where you claim the goverment don't like you cause of your special job(make beleive)or what about your claim to be an Ivey league Grad,that one I always loved. Or are you going to get me out of the forum by crying to the local, like you did the last time. By the way you still live in that trailer of yours with your wife that you stole from the elephant section of the zoo.
00:56 April 6, 2010 by Frenemy
ah, its you! lol (great, I was wondering how long we'd be "missing you"...)

If you wanna stay somewhat anon (try laying off the british royalty followed by a 3 digit number when it comes to selecting a username...)
10:20 April 6, 2010 by Tobsen
ah yea...those enjoyable animosities...if i had a penny..

back to the topic. bad enough that our country's leaders have such a hard time finding the right terminology to what we're dealing with here. What is even worse IMO is that germany's population shows so little support for the troops. You may agree or disagree with the decision to join our allies in this conflict, but as we're there already, I would really like to see the German people back home show some support for our boys that are risking their lives out there.

If the people were more supportive, we might actually see how politicians fianlly find the courage to make decisions. Like providing appropriate equipment for a start.
12:10 April 6, 2010 by Frenemy
"we might actually see how politicians fianlly find the courage to make decisions. "

...let me sum that up for you: its called re-election potential ;-) lol
19:16 April 6, 2010 by Henckel
@Frenemy: That's right, they hem and haw until election time, then they want to show they're really doing something, anything, to "deserve" reelection. It's pathetic...
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