Friday, October 12, 2007

Afstan: Partially good news from Germany/Romania noticed

At least the Bundeswehr will be staying for another year, if not fighting:
Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government steered a motion through parliament today extending Germany's military engagement in Afghanistan, defying public opinion that is overwhelmingly against the deployment.

Members of four of Germany's five main political parties backed an extension of the country's involvement in Afghanistan by another 12 months. That allows German troops, most of them stationed in the relatively peaceful north of the country, to continue to help North Atlantic Treaty Organization efforts to rebuild Afghanistan and combat Taliban insurgents.

``We can't afford to pull out now as the Taliban are battling on,'' Ruprecht Polenz, head of the German parliament's foreign affairs committee and a member of Merkel's Christian Democrats, said in an interview. ``Any withdrawal would imply an admission of defeat; the international community mustn't let that happen.''

The Afghanistan vote takes place after a series of German abductions and mounting Afghan civilian deaths that have taken their toll on public support. While Germany has been criticized by British and Dutch lawmakers for keeping its forces out of Taliban strongholds in the south and east of Afghanistan, NATO is likely to welcome Germany's commitment at a time when other allies are weighing partial or full pullouts [emphasis added--the German decision will have zero impact in Canada as a result of their non-combat role; if the Dutch decide to end their combat mission the impact here will be important - MC]...

Germany has about 3,500 troops and six Tornado jets used for surveillance purposes in Afghanistan. Twenty-six German soldiers have died on duty in the country, according to the Defense Ministry. NATO has about 41,000 troops in Afghanistan...

Merkel's coalition meanwhile faces a stiffer test next month, when lawmakers vote on a renewal of the mandate for Germany's contribution to a U.S.-led counterinsurgency force in Afghanistan that is separate from the NATO mission. Some Social Democrats have said they will oppose the extension of the mission of German KSK elite forces under what is known as Operation Enduring Freedom, or OEF...

Today's vote on NATO participation was broadly undisputed, and was even backed by members of the pacifist Green Party [listen up Mr Layton]. Only the Left Party voted as a bloc against the extension. The motion passed by 454 votes to 79 against...

Merkel's coalition has already pledged to step up efforts to train Afghan military and police forces, planning to use about 200 of its 500 personnel who fly and service the Tornado jets to assist training measures.

``We can't deny that a greater input on training Afghans on the ground may be necessary to meet the challenge,'' German Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung told ZDF television in an interview two days ago.
And a Canadian reporter finally discovers the Romanian combat mission:
The Canadians and the Dutch may be anguishing over their combat commitments in southern Afghanistan, but the Romanians at this lonely outpost near a major Taliban infiltration route through the mountains from Pakistan have no such worries.

The men of Romania's elite 33rd Mountain Battalion joke that almost nobody at home is even aware that their military, which is one of NATO's newest members, has been fighting alongside the Canadians, Dutch, British and Americans in southern Afghanistan [while the Poles fight in eastern Afstan]...

"I know there has been great surprise whenever a Romanian dies on a patrol. But nobody in Romania is asking the question: 'Why are we here?' "..

Most of the 700 Romanians in Afghanistan are posted at several places in Zabul province [actually in eastern Afstan too, under the Americans], which abuts Pakistan and, further south, Kandahar province, where Canada's battle group is stationed. Four Romanians have been killed since the unit headed into the dazzling mountains and high desert valleys and plateaus of the area late last year...
Update: The Dutch, with whom most of the Aussies are working, see a tougher Taliban:
Dutch comrades fear rising Taliban danger


Post a Comment

<< Home