--Joint press release by the Federal Foreign Ministry and the Federal Ministry of Defence--
On 22 September 2010, after consultation with, and the full agreement of, Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Federal Minister of Defence Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg decided to withdraw the Tornado aircraft stationed with the operational squadron at Mazar-e-Sharif. The redeployment of the six aircraft is expected to take place in November this year.
In recent years the German reconnaissance Tornados were not just quantitatively, but also qualitatively, one of the most widely used instrument for ISAF reconnaissance missions across Afghanistan. In view of both ISAF’s shift in emphasis in favour of reconstruction and training of Afghan security forces, and the upper limit of 5000 troops set by parliamentary mandate, a new direction was required for the German contingent. The decision to withdraw the Tornados comes on the recommendation of the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force ISAF, General David Petraeus. The posts – up to 90 – freed up through the redeployment are to be reinvested in the areas of training, mentoring and partnering for the Afghan security forces, in line with the decisions adopted by the international community at the conferences in London and Kabul.
With the reconnaissance systems Heron 1, KZO and Luna, the Regional Commander North continues to have at his disposal high-performance reconnaissance planes for missions in his area of responsibility. The tactical air surveillance over the whole of Afghanistan still required will be carried out in the future by reconnaissance systems from partner countries. In future a Tornado “reserve” from the reconnaissance squadron 51 Immelmann will be designated as such for NATO deployment to Afghanistan at short notice if necessary. The appropriate regulatory provision for this is currently being worked out.