NATO asks Germany for northern Afghan quick reaction combat force
NATO formally asked Germany to provide combat troops for a Quick Reaction Force in northern Afghanistan to replace a 350-strong Norwegian force that leaves in July, the German Defence Ministry announces in Berlin.
29th January 2008
Berlin (dpa) - The request, which had been expected, has raised fears in Germany of a significant change in the role of the German military in Afghanistan, from a largely reconstruction and training mission to a more combat-oriented one.
German government ministers and generals have indicated over recent days that the force is all but certain to be deployed, insisting that it is covered by the current mandate for the Afghan deployment, renewed by parliament in October.
Nevertheless, Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said Tuesday during a surprise visit to Kabul that a final decision had yet to be taken.
The German Defence Ministry confirmed earlier this month that it was considering whether to deploy the troops, responding to a media report that referred to a "new quality" in the German engagement in Afghanistan.
Germany maintain a large base at Mazar-e-Sharif in the northern Balkh province.
In October, the Bundestag renewed the mandate for 3,500 German troops in Afghanistan, combining two previous mandates.
Up to 3,000 troops are deployed in a training, reconstruction and security mission in the relatively peaceful north under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
There are also six Tornado reconnaissance jets and their back-up units.