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Guttenberg boosts firepower in Afghanistan

DPA/The Local · 14 Apr 2010, 14:34

Published: 14 Apr 2010 14:34 GMT+02:00

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Visiting troops at their headquarters in northern Afghanistan, Guttenberg said he would have two Panzerhaubitze 2000 armoured vehicles, which fire heavy artillery, sent to the German troops "as soon as possible."

On his snap visit, Guttenberg also called on the German public to remember the sacrifices of their soldiers and sought to assure troops on the ground their political leaders were behind them.

“To me, it’s important to make clear to soldiers on the ground that the political leadership stands behind them,” Guttenberg said.

It was also vital to highlight the importance of the Afghanistan mission to the German public and ensure “we don’t forget soldiers on the ground, but rather give them support,” he added.

Guttenberg’s visit came as Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected a call by opposition Social Democrats leader Sigmar Gabriel for a new parliamentary mandate reflecting the fact the government had finally started referring to the Afghan campaign as a “war.”

Through spokeswoman Sabine Heimbach, Merkel said the existing mandate approved by the lower house of parliament, or Bundestag, provided the “right basis” for the presence of German troops. After the bloodshed of Good Friday, when three German soldiers were killed by Taliban insurgents during an ambush, Guttenberg broke a political taboo by finally calling the situation a “war.”

During a memorial service for the fallen soldiers Merkel herself subsequently said: “Many call the mission in Afghanistan a war. And I understand that well.”

Guttenberg also joined Merkel in rejecting Gabriel’s call for a new mandate.

“The mandate is geared to reality. The leadership of the SPD knows that,” he said.

Backing for the Afghanistan war has deteriorated since Good Friday. In a poll published Wednesday by Stern magazine, 62 percent of respondents supported a withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan. This was the highest proportion calling for a pull-out since the Forsa polling firm began asking the question.

In September last year, after the controversial Kunduz airstrike on two hijacked petrol tankers that killed dozens of civilians, 55 percent of respondents wanted a withdrawal. In September 2005, when the situation was relatively calm for German troops, just 43 percent called for a withdrawal.

On his visit to the Bundeswehr’s headquarters in northern Afghanistan, which for security reasons was not announced, Guttenberg said he wanted to learn about conditions on the ground and see how the troops’ equipment could be improved.

“One has to learn about that on the ground,” he said.

The Good Friday ambush had sparked a heated debate about the equipping of German troops. Guttenberg previously said it was something that needed to be constantly monitored, though he rejected a proposal by incoming parliamentary commissioner for the Bundeswehr Hellmut Königshaus that troops specifically need “Leopard 2” vehicles.

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At a memorial remembering the Good Friday attack, Guttenberg unveiled a plaque bearing the names of the three fallen soldiers and thanked the troops for their efforts.

“We rely on your power and your strength,” he said.

Guttenberg also said he had no problem with a US plan to send up to 4,500 extra ISAF soldiers to the northern region for which Germany has operational responsibility.

“We are in an alliance, and it is altogether normal that in an alliance different partners take responsibility … We are pleased that we have the Americans on our side,” he said.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:13 April 14, 2010 by Frenemy
"and assure troops on the ground their political leaders were behind them"

thank god. its about time.

(even if the majority of their [geopolitical] ostrich-esque compatriots aren't "behind them")!!
19:20 April 14, 2010 by Hibernicus
So, how many more Afghan civilians have to die before the NATO gang realise their so-called "mission" in Afghanistan has failed. All they're doing is propping up the corrupt Karzai regime at enormous human losses and expense.
19:33 April 14, 2010 by Thames
9 years and counting and still no victory.

While the Mayor of Kabul Karzai continues his corrupt government his brother is working on opening a resturant in Baltimore. Well at least when his corrupt "leadership" is over maybe his brother will let him be a greater.
20:03 April 14, 2010 by Frenemy
"So, how many more Afghan civilians have to die before the NATO gang realise their so-called "mission" in Afghanistan has failed."

As many as it takes (before THEY realize that they've LOST).

"All they're doing is propping up the corrupt Karzai regime at enormous human losses and expense."

You think ANY regime over there will not be "corrupt"?!

It is what it is.... (sometimes you need to make deals with demons to take control of hell)!!!
21:27 April 14, 2010 by Major B
"9 years and counting and still no victory."

True. Alas, sigh. It is easy to become shortsided with this long long "collective" effort. Remember the last American regime had declared victory until the band-aids began coming off in 2006 - 2007. How about 5 years of victory and then a resurgence with tacit Pakastani support and sanctuary for the Taliban. "Der Grenadier" and myself have outlined before how the Taliban's support of Al Quaeda brought all this about.

"Guttenberg also said he had no problem with a US plan to send up to 4,500 extra ISAF soldiers to the northern region for which Germany has operational responsibility."

The above is B.S. Yes, 4,500 - 6500 are needed but they need to come from the responsible agent.
21:43 April 14, 2010 by Frenemy
the "solution" does not lie in metrics alone... (this whole business is a lot more complicated than troop numbers...)
22:08 April 14, 2010 by wenddiver
There really hasn't been nine yeas of attack on this nut. The Army was in Iraq, but since the jeanie is in the bottle theirextra forces are redeployable.

It's like World War II, the Pacific was a holding action, while the military dealt with Hitler. That didn't mean that Japan was going to get away with her stunt. Same with the Cave Men.
23:09 April 14, 2010 by Prufrock2010
This is just a distraction. The real war is in Pakistan. That one can't be won, either.
01:30 April 15, 2010 by Frenemy
@Prufrock2010: stop distracting us with unpleasant, "on-the-ground" realities that are geopolitically sensitive. There is NOTHING going on in Pakistan (repeat after me)....(!)
04:23 April 15, 2010 by deutschamer
The only thing that's really fair to soldiers is all in or all out. Low level conflicts with non-uniformed civilians who can melt into the population anytime they want inevitably leads to atrocities on the part of the uniformed soldiers. The non-uniformed soldiers commit atrocities continually.
05:41 April 15, 2010 by DavidtheNorseman
The Canadians have found the Leopard 2A6M (M stands for the enhanced mine protection) very useful. Main battle tanks prove to be most effective against roadside bombs, etc., in protecting the soldiers. The Leopards also have proper NBC protection and air conditioning (to bring the temp down from the awful heat of Afgan summers to a manageable torrid).

While the Panzerhaubitze 2000 is an awesome piece of mobile artillery it is best used with main battle tanks.

What Guttenberg has done is a good start, but if you're going to have troops in harms way give them the best you've got.

Send in the Leopards.
06:20 April 15, 2010 by wenddiver
@Frenemy- By that last statement Sensors indicate we have a Trekie in our midst, Captain.

The comparison to Troglydytes is a good one. If we can get them out of their caves and away from the toxic air of this crazy death cult we can probably do something with them.

Starting off with the US GIs might be a bit of a shock for their system, but maybe we could get some Gurkas to talk them down. Maybe an Indian Pow wow, where we ask them why they are fighting and distribute some friendship tokens. Take the kids and families up in helecopters and such. Bring in an Afgan Army APC and let them drive it, kick the soccer ball around. Have career day for Government jobs.

If it doesn't work we can always go back to the B-52s.
12:55 April 16, 2010 by Frenemy
lol don't involve the gurkas...(those f#ckers are just plain mean) as for the B52s...what the F for?

.... I mean, a "Spirit" or two should resolve the situation completely..(even without their "physics package"...)
22:17 April 16, 2010 by wenddiver
@Frenemy- I always wanted to serve with a Gurka Unit, but never saw a training opportunity. I eny the Brits having them. I would like to see them used in a civilian contact role. Actually a lite mobile force like the Chindits of World War II, might be just the thing to show the Talliban that we can beat them on their level , at any time, and show up where they least expect it.

I stll think B-52, it's a big impressive plane and will not be adding flying hours to more modern, expensive air frames, after all we're killing cave men, real life we could do it with Ballons, lawn chairs, and Sniper rifles, because they don't fly, ha, ha.
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