Germany decides to keep up to 800 soldiers in Afghanistan after 2014

"Germany is taking an early and timely position on this important question"

From ReutersGermany wants to keep between 600 and 800 soldiers in Afghanistan from 2015 when most international troops will have withdrawn, Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Thursday.

The soldiers would have a two-year mandate to train Afghan security forces and would also provide logistical support, sanitary aid and protection, he said.

After that two-year period Germany would pare the mission down to a maximum of 300 soldiers concentrated in the capital Kabul to provide further training and support, de Maiziere said.

From AP:  The final decision must be taken by the next German government following national elections in September, but polls show Chancellor Angela Merkel is likely to win a third four-year term — with or without her current center-right coalition. Germany’s main center-left opposition party, which took the country into Afghanistan when it was in government, has continued to support the mission there.

De Maiziere said Germany’s offer is dependent on a formal invitation from the Afghan government, because “we want to be welcome.” Germany also insists on a U.N. resolution, a troop status agreement with Afghanistan, and an “appropriate contribution” to the mission by Germany’s allies.

Germany now has about 4,170 troops in Afghanistan, mostly in the north, which has been a relatively calm region. 

From Deutsche Welle:  The Bundeswehr personnel would provide advice, support and training to Afghan troops, but would not engage in combat missions.

"This offer is a declaration of intent by the federal government," said de Maiziere. "Germany is taking an early and timely position on this important question. . . ."

Also present at the press conference was German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who declared the planned handover of combat operations to be a "historic milestone."

After the United States and Britain, Germany provides the third-biggest military contingent in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).  (photo: AP)

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