Germans approves Afghani surveillance jets

7th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

7 February 2007, Berlin (dpa) - The German cabinet Wednesday approved the deployment of Tornado jets for surveillance operations with NATO forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Tornado pilots would be authorized to provide intelligence for NATO attacks on Taliban formations, Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said. But they would not be allowed to use their bombs or missiles to carry out attacks, government sources told dpa. Parliament needs to approve the mission, which would signal a deepening milit

7 February 2007

Berlin (dpa) - The German cabinet Wednesday approved the deployment of Tornado jets for surveillance operations with NATO forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Tornado pilots would be authorized to provide intelligence for NATO attacks on Taliban formations, Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said. But they would not be allowed to use their bombs or missiles to carry out attacks, government sources told dpa.

Parliament needs to approve the mission, which would signal a deepening military commitment by Germany in the region. But approval is considered a formality given the huge majority enjoyed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's government in the Bundestag.

Deputies are scheduled to discuss the issue in March. Once the vote is taken the first Tornados could arrive in Afghanistan by early April.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has requested the Tornados to fly support missions over southern Afghanistan for NATO ground forces amid fears of a Taliban offensive in the coming months.

Government sources said about six Tornado reconnaissance planes would be operate across the entire country, taking aerial pictures of Tailban positions and passing the information on to other NATO partners who would carry out strikes against the Taliban.

Deployment of the Tornados has met with a mixed reaction in Germany, amid fears that the country could be drawn into a combat role in the landlocked Asian nation.

But Jung said the deployment was necessary in order to enhance the security of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force fighting the Taliban.

Germany has about 2,700 troops serving with the 35,000-member NATO force in Afghanistan, but they are mainly restricted to serving in the relatively peaceful northern part of the country.

"Without security there can be no reconstruction (in Afghanistan). Without reconstruction there will be no security," the defence minister said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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