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Bloodshed sparks row over Afghan strategy

DDP/DPA/The Local · 6 Apr 2010, 11:10

Published: 06 Apr 2010 11:10 GMT+02:00

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Opposition parliamentarians argued that Germany was failing in both training and strategy, but MPs from the governing coalition said they stood behind current military policies.

“The soldiers have told me that there are deficits in training,” outgoing parliamentary commissioner for the Bundeswehr Reinhold Robbe told daily Bild, adding that they had too few vehicles for missions.

Defence expert for the centre-left Social Democrats Rainer Arnold told daily Leipziger Volkszeitung that troops were also short on helicopters.

But head of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee and member of the ruling Christian Democrats Ruprecht Polenz told broadcaster ZDF that he was “not familiar” with such deficits, also rejecting opposition calls by Green party parliamentary group leader Jürgen Trittin for a “definitive troop withdrawal” plan.

Christian Schmidt, from CDU's Bavarian sister party the CSU and parliamentary liaison to the Defence Ministry, also rejected criticism that Bundeswehr troops were inadequately armed for the conflict.

But Schmidt did tell daily Passauer Neue Presse that the public had been led to believe the conflict was insignificant in the first years of the country’s involvement.

“It’s time to look the facts in the eye,” he told the paper. “We’re conducting a war-like conflict. It’s not just about digging wells.”

Schmidt’s comments were a nod to fellow party member Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who broke a long-standing political taboo on Sunday and called the conflict a “war.”

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 on Friday, when three German soldiers were killed and several others seriously injured 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."

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But Green party defence expert Omid Nouripour called for a sweeping review of the overall situation for soldiers in Afghanistan was needed to determine when they could leave.

“Without taking stock, we have no possibility to estimate the effectiveness of the Bundeswehr mission in the area,” Nouripour told daily Frankfurter Rundschau, calling on Guttenberg to take action.

A productive mission is important in the goal of handing control of Afghanistan back to its residents as soon as possible, Nouripour added.

Germany has participated in the conflict in the Kunduz regions since 2002 as a member of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). There are currently more than 4,500 troops serving in the mission. The bloodshed last week brought the number of German soldiers killed in Afghanistan to 39.

DDP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:28 April 6, 2010 by Frenemy
"Defence expert for the centre-left Social Democrats Rainer Arnold told daily Leipziger Volkszeitung that troops were also short on helicopters"

Really?! How about heavy lift transport?! "lefties" don't know their ass from their elbow...period (really quite pathetic actually)
13:45 April 6, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
Nothing but a political handbag fight. If there are training deficiencies, which, what with wanting to cut the basic enlistment period to 6 months, there most certainly are; then, fix them. If we really need more helicopters, then build them.

Sonst? Dran! Drauf! Drüber!
17:24 April 6, 2010 by Thames
But Green party defence expert Omid Nouripour called for a sweeping review of the overall situation for soldiers in Afghanistan was needed to determine when they could leave.

A Green Party defense expert: Is this really possible?
18:32 April 6, 2010 by Bensonradar
Three soldiers get killed and several others injured, then an armoured patrol kills six allied Afghan soldiers, and the political infighting starts and the headlines get nasty.

What are Germany, UK and American soldiers doing in Afghanistan anyway? "MPs from the governing coalition said they stood behind current military policies". What are these military policies? How can a country like Afghanistan ever be sorted out. It's a corrupt, backward despotic regime run by madmen.

Time to withdraw the troops.
18:37 April 6, 2010 by Celeon
@ Thames

LOL , i thought the same.

A Green Party defense expert is like a Left Party economics expert. :-D

To the topic of the strategy in Afghanistan : To me it seems that there is only one strategy in effect since we went over there.

Its the strategy of german politicians constantly asking themselves "How would this decision affect my political standing and how unpopular would it be with the german public ?"

Thats the real thing that goes through their minds everytime this "tedious Afghanistan topic" is brought up again.

Military necessities and Afghanistan's fate have to stay on place two and three behind this primary question of true utmost importance.

The Greens and Lefties count the votes they may gain by demanding a withdrawal and dont really care about Afghanistan that was "invented and caused by the CIA and Bush anyway", the SPD and CDU worry about how many votes they may loose for denying the withdrawal or how it would damage Germany's foreign policy standing if a withdrawal is forced upon them.

For the Bundestag, Afghanistan is more a domestic policy matter than a war.

And the soldiers and Afghans have to pay for that attitude.
19:13 April 6, 2010 by Henckel
@ Frenemy: I agree with you...brave men are dying needlessly because of these left-wing clowns.
05:09 April 7, 2010 by wenddiver
@ All- Better these defence short comings be sorted out in Afganistan, than on some battlefield where the nations Freedom is at stake.

The British uunderstood the concept of using these small wars to sort out the Army's leadership in the 1800s. It is irreplaceable in training the Junior Officers and the US Military benefits from it immensly.

Germany has needed a realistic defence policy for a long time. Several of the short comings were predictable. The babbling of the lefts "Military Experts" is to funny, why not have children defence experts if you are going to listen to the unpreparred and clue less.
06:32 April 7, 2010 by ALBERT VITELA
Dearest Germans, thank you for your service, and a regrettable loss of those soldiers. Please continue with your wonderful assistance, as everyone knows you are great fighters. If the soldiers need equipment please give them what they need in order for logistics to save lives. Dankeshire Deutsches Volks, greetings from America.
08:19 April 7, 2010 by Frenemy
+1 for wenddiver ;-)
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