Germany not sending elite troops to Afghanistan

Other News Materials 6 October 2008 20:41 (UTC +04:00)

Germany will no longer provide special forces for US-led operations to combat terrorism in Afghanistan, a defence ministry spokesman said Monday, reported dpa.

Instead, it plans to increase by 1,000 the number of German soldiers serving with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Defence Ministry spokesman Thomas Raabe said Germany's allies had accepted its decision not to renew the mandate for up to 100 elite troops to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

Last week, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the Afghan part of the OEF mandate should not be renewed when the issue comes up for debate in parliament early next month.

He said that for the past several years German KSK special forces had not been involved in OEF, which was set up in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

The focus, he said, should be on German troops serving with ISAF, mainly in the northern part of the country.

On Tuesday, the cabinet is expected to agree to an extension of the German ISAF presence from 12 to 14 months. The same day parliament begins discussion on increasing the number of German troops from 3,500 to 4,500 ahead.

A vote is not due until mid-October, but the measure is expected easily to pass in the legislature, where Chancellor Angela Merkel's broad-based coalition enjoys a secure majority.

The Afghan aspect of the OEF has been controversial in Germany because of the number of civilians killed in military operations against the Taliban.

In addition to the Afghan role, the OEF mandate also covers the presence of a German naval frigate on the Horn of Africa and two Orion surveillance aircraft in Djibouti.

Parliament is expected to begin debate on the OEF mission on November 4 and vote on it November 14.