Attrition: Germany Revives An Old Tradition


May 11, 2009: On April 29th, Germany lost its first soldier, in combat with enemy troops, since World War II. A dozen soldiers had previously been killed by suicide and roadside bombs, but this time, it was the direct result of enemy fire (an RPG round hitting an armored vehicle.)

German troops have been in northern Afghanistan for eight years, with a few hundred commandos occasionally allowed to operate in the more violent south. Over the last year, the Taliban have been sending groups of armed men north, where they increasingly run into German troops. The ROE (Rules of Engagement) allow German soldiers to fight back if attacked, and that has produced a growing number of battles where the Taliban (or bandits or drug gang gunmen), usually gets the worst of it. Western soldiers, the Taliban are finding, are deadly even when the foreigners are under orders to avoid a fight.


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