Consultations on new Afghanistan mandate

On 13 December, the German Bundestag debated the new mandate for the deployment of the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan in the first reading. The mandate is based on a resolution by the United Nations Security Council passed on 9 October 2012. In a cabinet meeting on 28 February, the German Government decided to extend the mandate for another 13 months. At the same time, the number of German soldiers deployed as part of the NATO led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan is to be clearly reduced. The Bundestag now has the final say.

Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle presented the Government’s mandate proposal in the German Bundestag. According to the Federal Government motion, the personnel ceiling of the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan is to be reduced under the new mandate from 4900 to 4400 soldiers as of February 2013. The Government aims to further reduce the size of the German contingent to 3300 soldiers by the time the mandate expires in February 2014.

The German Foreign Minister announced: “The high point of the German military engagement is over. We are working on ending the deployment of German and international ISAF combat troops by the end of 2014.” He went on to say the withdrawal would be carried out as planned and responsibly.

This gradual withdrawal of German soldiers remains dependent on the situation on the ground permitting such a step and on the German forces and the sustainability of the transition process not thereby being jeopardized.

Afghanistan taking over responsibility

As agreed at the Lisbon NATO summit in 2010, Afghan security forces will gradually assume responsibility for their country in the period up until the end of 2014. Even today, they are responsible for the security of 75% of the Afghan population. By mid 2013, the whole country will be in what is called the transition process. Minister Westerwelle underscored: “Afghanistan is increasingly able to take care of its own security. The responsible handover of responsibility is underway.”

Germany remains involved

Germany and the international community will remain involved in Afghanistan even after responsibility for security has been fully transferred to the Afghans providing advice, training and support for the Afghan security forces. Germany has pledged to make available about 150 million euros annually from 2015 to help finance the Afghan National Security Forces. At a meeting with his Afghan counterpart Zalmay Rassoul on 26 November in Berlin, Foreign Minister Westerwelle reaffirmed: “We will not leave Afghanistan abandoned after the drawdown of our combat forces.”

German involvement would thus increasingly have a “civilian face”, Westerwelle said. Thus Germany would continue to contribute up to 430 million euros annually towards civilian reconstruction aid.

Last updated 14.12.2012

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