Security in Afghanistan German States Grow Skeptical of Sending Police Trainers
German states are increasingly reluctant to send police to Afghanistan to help train local forces. Brandenburg has become the first state to refuse to send more officers. Rising insecurity and personnel shortages mean that other states may soon follow suit.
It has become the key to NATO's strategy in Afghanistan. Before the US and its NATO allies can begin withdrawing forces from the war-torn country, Afghan military and police personnel must be adequately trained. Indeed, a series of training benchmarks has been established to measure progress.
Germany's contribution, however, may be on the wane, SPIEGEL has learned. Brandenburg, the state surrounding Berlin, has said that it will not send anymore police trainers to Afghanistan, despite Germany's long-standing pledge to take a leading role in training locals on the ground.
Additionally, other states, including North Rhine-Westphalia, are having difficulty finding enough police officers who are prepared to take part in the training programs.
This mounting skepticism could slow down progress in the region. While US President Barack Obama has been reluctant to pinpoint a date for the beginning of withdrawal, the transfer of security responsibility could begin in some regions of the country as early as next spring, some US officials have said.
But the deteriorating situation on the ground, especially in the run up to parliamentary elections later this month, has heightened the German debate about the risk of sending more officers.
Bavaria, which has sent police to the country since 2009, said it is closely monitoring the security situation. The recent killing of two Spanish policemen and a translator working on training schemes in the country fanned existing fears.
Ehrhart Körting, the interior minister of the city-state of Berlin, said he backed sending more police officers to Afghanistan even though he feared such operations could increase the radicalization of Islamists living in Germany.
Germany has been contributing to the program to train the Afghan police since 2002 and hopes to have 260 police trainers in the country by the end of this year. With more than 4,500 soldiers posted in Afghanistan, the Bundeswehr is the third largest military contingent in the country after the US and Britain.
Reflecting the enormity of the task of improving patchy local security, the US expects to spend about $6 billion (4.7 billion) a year on training and supporting troops and police in Afghanistan after it begins to withdraw combat troops next year, the Associated Press reported on Monday.
jas -- SPIEGEL/wire reports