When German Defense Minister Peter Struck visited the frigate "Mecklenburg-Vorpommern" in the Gulf of Aden on 14 December, he stressed that German servicemen deployed at the Horn of Africa are exposed to a real danger and that the Bundeswehr's mission in Africa was as important as the German missions in Afghanistan or in the Balkans. Struck also visited the 120 troops at the naval logistics base "Tender Elbe" in the port of Djibouti and on the 15th, the 140 naval aviators at the Mombassa command post "Marcent Warehouse," where their marine long-range reconnaissance aircraft were based.
Struck also made it simultaneously clear that the German soldiers in Africa were not supposed to be involved in a possible war against Iraq. He rejected reports about the United States' request and claimed that there are only "considerations within NATO" to transfer the ships cruising in the eastern Mediterranean further to the West, as protection against terrorist attacks. Green candidates in the Bundestag (who usually support anti-American causes) demanded that the AWACS aircraft should only be allowed to operate over Turkish airspace and should in no way contribute to attacks by US aircraft.- Adam Geibel
The German Navy frigate "Brandenburg" returned to her Wilhelmshaven home port on the morning of 20 December, from her anti-terror operation cruise off the Horn of Africa. The "Brandenburg" will be replaced by the "Rheinland-Pfalz", but may soon be escorting US vessels steaming towards Iraq. In mid-December, the German "Die Welt" newspaper reported that the US Government was feeling out Berlin on it's willingness to participate in a potential Iraq war from the United States: in addition to AWACS aircraft for monitoring Iraqi airspace, the US also wants German naval vessels to provide escort protection for US ships transporting troops or materiel through the Mediterranean. An unnamed German ship will rejoin the Atlantic unit, presumably in March 2003.