May 21, 2008

German soldiers in Afghanistan - don't shoot the bad guys!

Germany, with great reluctance and with almost no popular support for anything that resembles helping their supposed American allies, has sent troops to Afghanistan as part of its NATO commitment.

It sounds good on paper. The reality is that they are permitted to be stationed only in the relatively stable northern part of the country where they likely will face limited hostile action. When asked to deploy some units to the more volatile south where American, British, Canadian and Dutch troops are conducting the major combat operations, they refused

Recently, Germany's military operations in Afghanistan were highlighted when mounted an operation to capture a senior Taliban commander, one with British blood on his hands. The Germans got close, but when they were discovered and the Taliban leader slipped away, the German soldiers, part of an elite special operations unit (the Kommandos Spezialkräfte, or KSK) declined to open fire on the hostiles.

It seems that the German rules of engagement do not allow combat forces in the field to use their weapons except in self defense. Politicians in Bonn and Berlin are placing tactical restrictions on what I am sure are fine troops.

The official German statement (from Berlin, of course): "This incident will not change our policy of the 'principle of proportionality.' A fugitive like the Baghlan bomber is not an aggressor and should not be shot unless in self-defense."

A senior Taliban commander with a documented history of killing British troops with roadside bombs is not an aggressor? What planet are you on?

The British press was not impressed. Their headline: The Germans - armed but not very dangerous.