Thursday, 15 December 2011

Germany to Start Afghanistan Troop Drawdown

The German "Bundestag" will deliberate a new Afghanistan mandate in January.  The mandate will envisages fewer German troops in Afghanistan.  While Social Democrats have signalled that they will support the Merkel Government, the Green and Left Party are criticizing the move.

Citing an improved security situation in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Defence Minister Thomas de Maziere, recommended a drawdown of approximately 450 troops in February.  The mandate is to be discussed in early January.

Germany presently has a troop ceiling of 5350 soldiers and that ceiling is to be lowered to 4950.  Within twelve months, the end of 2012, that ceiling is to be reduced to 4400, based on the situation on the ground. 

Most German troops are stationed in Kunduz, Province.  Germany has not been involved in the heavy fighting that has been the norm in the Taliban's homeland in Helmand and Kandahar Province.  Nonetheless there have been German casualties.  A total of 53 German soldiers and 3 police officers were killed. 245 service personnel have been wounded in action.

Germany's participation in Afghanistan has been controversial.  German post World War II troops were first operationally deployed outside of Germany during the NATO Balkans deployment in the former Yugoslavia.   The "Bundeswehr's mandate is a defensive one.

Germany did not participate in NATO's Libya operation, but increased support to Afghanistan to permit the U.S. to relocate assets from Afghanistan to support the Libya operation. 

While citing improvements in the security situation, both Germany Defence and Foreign Minister were cautious, stating that there could be set backs.  The situation in Afghanistan is still very volatile.  Corruption and drugs are a major problem in Afghanistan and the Karzai government need to fight both corruption and the drug trade if a transition is to be successful. 

The drawdown goes hand in hand with President Obama's announcement earlier this year of troop U.S. troop withdrawals.  Canada's combat role ended in July and the combat contingent was replaced by approximately 900 trainers.

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