Friday, March 9, 2007

Germany increases its commitment to the fight in Afghanistan

NATO has been calling for more forces to support the mission in Afghanistan as the Taliban become resurgent and rumors of a spring offensive are in the air.
German Parliament Approves Planes for Afghanistan

As expected, Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, voted on Friday to send six to eight Tornado reconnaissance jets to support NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The planes will be stationed at the German base at Masar-i-Scharif in northern Afghanistan. Germany will also be sending an additional 500 support personnel in a mission that has been authorized until the next time the Afghanistan mission comes up for review on October 13, 2007.

Germany currently has around 3,000 soldiers stationed with the NATO mission in Afghanistan -- known as ISAF -- but they are confined to the relatively peaceful region of northern Afghanistan. Germany has led the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in the north, and has been very successful in building up infrastructure, schools and other municipal institutions.

Nevertheless, Germany has in the past come under fire from NATO officials for not helping out in the increasingly bloody fight in southern Afghanistan. Given the expected Taliban "spring offensive," the Tornados are a much-needed support for the US, Canadian, Dutch and other soldiers fighting in the south.
Although harshly attacked by Republicans for not backing the war in Iraq; countries like Germany, France and Canada have had troops in Afghanistan since the start of the conflict in 2001.

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