German parliament cuts Afghan troop numbers
8 November 2005, BERLIN - Germany's parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved cutting the number of combat troops Berlin can deploy in and around Afghanistan while extending their mandate for a further year.
8 November 2005
BERLIN - Germany's parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved cutting the number of combat troops Berlin can deploy in and around Afghanistan while extending their mandate for a further year.
A total of 519 deputies in the Bundestag voted in favour of extending the mission, 67 were voted against the mission and three abstained.
Germany's maximum troop strength as part of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom will be reduced to 2,800 from the present ceiling of 3,100 soldiers, under the bill approved by the chamber.
The decision is partly academic because Berlin currently only has 500 troops serving under the mandate.
The forces serve in the Afghan combat theatre including the Horn of Africa region. Members of Germany's elite KSK forces are involved in combat operations in Afghanistan with U.S. troops - but their numbers and activities are kept strictly secret.
Defence ministry officials insist the troop cuts are not a sign of lower engagement but rather because Berlin is recalling ageing naval surveillance planes prior to delivery of more modern replacements.
The current troop mandate expires November 15.
Germany has a further 2,250 peacekeeping troops with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan which it plans to raise to 3,000.
About 12,000 ISAF soldiers are operating mainly around Kabul, as well as in the relatively peaceful north and west of Afghanistan.
The United States has some 18,000 troops in Afghanistan under Enduring Freedom and has called on ISAF to expand its operations so that the U.S. forces can be partially withdrawn.
A total of 17 German soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001 and 22 have been wounded in attacks, according to Berlin defence ministry figures.
Subject: German news