Germany to cut troop numbers in Afghan region

2nd November 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 November 2005, BERLIN - Germany plans to cut the number of combat troops it can deploy in and around Afghanistan while extending their mandate for a further year, a defence ministry spokesman said Wednesday.

2 November 2005

BERLIN - Germany plans to cut the number of combat troops it can deploy in and around Afghanistan while extending their mandate for a further year, a defence ministry spokesman said Wednesday.

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, said the spokesman.

The decision is partly academic because Berlin has only had 500 troops serving under the mandate in recent times.

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.

"This is not a sign of a lower engagement which would be a totally false signal," said the spokesman, adding that troop reduction was because Berlin was temporarily recalling ageing naval surveillance planes prior to delivery of more modern replacements.

Parliament is expected to overwhelmingly approve extending the mandate in a November 8 vote. The current 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under Enduring Freedom and has called on ISAF to expand its operations so that the U.S. forces can be partially withdrawn.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, officials said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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