More German troops in Afghanistan, Mali, Iraq


On 7 March, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approved the expansion of Germany’s military missions abroad, namely in Afghanistan, Mali and Iraq. The defense budget, still to be approved by the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) would for instance raise the number of German troops deployed in Afghanistan by a third to 1,300.


More German troops in Afghanistan Mali Iraq
The German deployment in Afghanistan will reach 1,300 troops (Picture source: German government/Bundes Regierung)


After having trained Kurdish Peshmerga forces in north, German forces will also be stationed in Baghdad as part of the US-led coalition against Daesh in Syria and Iraq. 100 more troops will be added to Germany’s 1,000-strong deployment to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali for two purposes: increased maintenance needs and Germany’s new responsibility for a military base in Gao. German government spokesman Steffen Seibert specified that the country's contingent in Iraq would be reduced from 1,200 to 800 troops. The German Bundestag is yet to approve the cabinet proposals.

The decided increased German military presence in Afghanistan will take place while, as strongly requested by Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, accelerated reforms must be implemented by Kabul. On 7 March, the ministry's spokesperson Frank Faehnrich announced that "The training of Peshmerga will continue just as it had been before. It will cover the areas of medicine and logistics. The second issue which was mentioned by the defense minister today will be an instructional mission in Baghdad". German military instructors have been deployed in the north of Iraq since 2014. They are training the personnel of Kurdish paramilitary group Peshmerga, who fought against Daesh militants.

In addition to its announcement about Germany’s expansion of overseas operations, Merkel’s cabinet backed the continuation of surveillance and refueling flights by the Luftwaffe in support of allied efforts to fight Islamic State, as well as AWACs flights carried out on behalf of NATO.

Interestingly, Defence Minister von der Leyen acknowledged shortfalls in military equipment (namely tank spare parts) and personnel disclosed in a harsh report issued last week but claimed that troops assigned to overseas missions would be adequately equipped.

In line with the NATO commitment aiming at dedicating 2% of the GNP to defense budgets, the new governing coalition has already agreed to add 10 billion euros to the military budget over the next four years but minister von der Leyen warned further increases will be needed to rebuild the German military up to an acceptable preparedness level.


 

 

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