The Afghanistan Protocol: Explosive Leaks Provide Image of War from Those Fighting It
German Naivity: Growing Trouble in the North
The newly emerged documents do not contain any information suggesting that German troops were involved in any excesses of violence against the civilian population or in any illegal clandestine operations. Nevertheless, they convey an image of Germany's armed forces, the Bundeswehr, that is still devastating because they depict a German military that stumbled into the conflict with great naiveté.
The Germans thought that the northern provinces where their soldiers are stationed would be more peaceful compared to other provinces and that the situation would remain that way.
They were wrong. As far back as the end of 2005, resistance against the international troop presence began to grow -- locals were either threatened by the Taliban and powerful warlords or their support was bought. Warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, for example, spurred the fighting by offering 100,000 to 500,000 afghanis ($2,000 to $10,000) to the leader of any insurgency group. Hekmatyar's appeals and cash donations are carefully documented in the reports.
At the start of the deployment, some Bundeswehr soldiers jokingly called the small city of Kunduz "Bad Kunduz," the word "Bad" being the German word officially bestowed on spa towns. But peaceful days in Kunduz, where a large number of German troops are stationed, have long been a thing of the past. At the very latest, the quiet ended on May 19, 2007. That day, three German soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber as they tried to buy refrigerators at a local market. Eight Afghan civilians also died in the first deadly attack deliberately targeted at Germans in the region.
In a "threat report" dated May 31, 2007, German troops based in Kunduz reported on the general situation following another suicide attack. "Contrary to all expectations of the Regional Command North, the attacks of the insurgents in Kunduz are going on as foreseen by the Provincial Reconstruction Team Kunduz and mentioned before several times," the German document states, adding that more attacks, particularly against ISAF troops, "are strongly expected."
The soldiers appear to have been correct to have felt they were under a state of siege. The documents that have been obtained are comprised primarily of so-called "threat reports," thousands of danger scenarios and concrete warnings about planned attacks. These reports provide a clearer picture of the deterioration of the security situation in northern Afghanistan than the information provided by the German government or the federal parliament, the Bundestag, which must provide a legal mandate for the Bundeswehr's deployments abroad. Police checkpoints are constantly attacked or come under fire, patrols are targeted in deadly ambushes and roadside bombs explode.
They also show how close northern Afghanistan has slid toward a new civil war and how little the Germans have achieved during their deployment in the Hindu Kush.
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