An Extra 1,000 Soldiers: Germany Plans to Raise Troop Level for Afghanistan
German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung confirmed on Tuesday that Germany is planning on increasing the number of troops stationed in Afghanistan by 1,000.
A German jeep with the ISAF force in Afghanistan patrols the Marmal foothills in Mazar-i-Sharif.
"The increase is necessary to give us more flexibility to respond to challenges," Jung told reporters at a news conference in Berlin. "But the upper limit of 4,500 does not mean that they will all be deployed at once."
Any increase in troop numbers will have to be approved by the Bundestag. But, Germany's grand coalition government -- which pairs Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats with the Social Democrats -- should have no trouble securing enough votes for the increase. Many in the opposition are also in favor of the increase, with only the Left Party coming out against it.
Jung said one of the main reasons for the raising of troop levels was that the German army was planning to triple the amount of training it offered to Afghan troops. On top of that, Jung added, it was necessary to have reserves in northern Afghanistan to replace troops from other partner nations. In February, Germany also agreed to send a 200-strong quick reaction force to replace a departing unit from Norway.
However, the latest troop increase proposal does not foresee such a move. Defense Minister Jung told reporters German troops would remain focused on the north and only 40 communications specialists would be deployed to the south for a German-Danish mission.
Even as it plans to increase ISAF troops, Germany plans to cut the upper troop limit of its separate anti-terror mission, which is part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Instead of the current limit of 1,400 the maximum number would be cut to 800. This would not, however, affect the number of troops on the ground, Jung said, as they were well below the limit.
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