Leadership: Germans Struggle Over Combat Rules


February1, 2007: The German government is still battling leftist politicians opposed to sending six Tornado reconnaissance aircraft to Afghanistan. Meanwhile, German air force commanders have ordered the crews of the six Tornados, designated to go, to learn how to drop smart bombs. The recon aircraft are equipped with video cameras that can transfer, in real time, video to ground stations or other aircraft. But the recon aircraft can also carry smart bombs, and take out targets themselves. Since many targets in Afghanistan are time sensitive (Taliban pickup trucks halted along a road, or Taliban in a safe house or camp, which they might leave at any moment), it makes sense for the recon aircraft to be armed. But the German government is trying to get parliamentary approval by promising that the recon aircraft will be unarmed. This is not very popular in the German military. Other NATO allies (U.S., Britain and Canada) with troops fighting in Afghanistan, are putting a lot of pressure on Germany to allow the 3,000 German troops there get involved in the fighting. This is becoming an issue back in Germany, where the leftist politicians are trying to build enough support in parliament to keep German troops out of combat. The German troops are getting tired of being taunted by the other troops with stuff like, "we fight so you can drink beer in safety." The only German troops that are allowed to fight in Afghanistan are the KSK commandos, and they have been doing it since 2002. Very quietly. No reporters allowed. Despite that, two commandos are being investigated for kicking a prisoner in Afghanistan.


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