Germany to keep 800 troops for Afghan mission
Berlin: Germany will keep around 800 troops in Afghanistan for a "non-combat mission" when it winds up its 13-year long military operation in the war-torn country at the end of next year.
The German government yesterday decided to inform the NATO that it is prepared to take over the responsibilities for northern Afghanistan for two years after the pull out of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere said here.
Northern Afghanistan has been the main operational area of around 4,500 German troops currently stationed in Afghanistan.
Maiziere told a joint news conference together with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle that Germany's mission in Afghanistan from the beginning of 2015 is intended to train the country's soldiers and to provide advisory services and support for the Afghanistan army.
After the German soldiers complete their two-year training mission in northern Afghanistan, they will focus on the training of Afghan soldiers as well as on providing advisory services for the army in the region around Kabul, the Defence Minister said.
German troop strength will be reduced to between 200 and 300 soldiers for the second phase of the non-combat mission.
A condition to assist Afghanistan after the pull out of the ISAF forces is that the Afghan government will have to make a formal request for support.
A United Nations Security council resolution giving the NATO forces a mandate for the training mission and an agreement between Germany and Afghanistan on the status of the troops also are necessary, Maiziere said.
Besides providing training and advisory services for the Afghan National Security Forces, the German contingent is also expected to have the capabilities to provide logistics, medical and transport support as well as to protect and evacuate the troops.
The Defence Minister said Germany's offer is intended to assist the international planning efforts for the post-ISAF pull out period in Afghanistan.