Over 1000 German troops to leave Afghanistan in 2013
By Sajad - Thu Nov 15 2012, 12:06 pm
Germany’s foreign minister says his country is planning to reduce its troop contingent in Afghanistan by about a quarter over the next year as it moves to bring all combat soldiers home by the end of 2014.
Germany currently has around 4,800 troops in Afghanistan, the third largest contingent under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, behind Britain’s 9,500 troops and some 68,000 US soldiers.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière suggested in Berlin on Wednesday that the number of German forces in Afghanistan should be gradually reduced.
De Maizière said that the reduction was based “upon a justified, but not boundless, optimism” concerning progress on the ground.
Under the proposal, 3,300 soldiers from the German Bundeswehr would be stationed in Afghanistan by the end of February 2014, compared to some 4,760 currently.
The ministers said the cabinet would decide by the end of the month on the target of 3,300 troops by February 2014, and the Bundestag lower house of parliament would vote soon afterward.
By January 2013, the number should already sink to 4,400.
Even after the troops are gone, Westerwelle says Germany will continue to provide Afghanistan with long-term non-military assistance.
Most countries contributing troops to the international force in Afghanistan are working on similar phase-outs, with NATO planning to end all combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014 – over 13 years after the operation began. Troops will remain in the country after this date, however, to help train and advise the Afghan security forces.