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Germany to beef up military presence in Afghanistan

Germany decided to beef up its military presence in Afghan by sending heavy artillery and other weapons to support its forces,which are facing increasing insurgency from the Taliban.

Written by Agencies | Berlin |
April 15, 2010 2:37:18 pm

Germany has decided to beef up its military presence in Afghanistan by sending heavy artillery and other weapons to support its forces,which are facing increasing insurgency from the Taliban in the country.

The decision to send two armoured howitzers of type 2000,’TOW’ anti-tank missiles and additional ‘Marder’ armoured personnel carriers was conveyed to the German soldiers by Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg,who made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan yesterday.

Guttenberg,who met the soldiers at the German base in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan told them that the weapons would be send as soon as possible and the government would implement other measures to support their mission.

The howitzer 2000 is reported to be the most modern artillery in its category and its 155 mm canon has the capability to lob shells up to 40 kilometres.

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These weapons are basic requirements for German soldiers to fulfil their mission in Afghanistan,the defence minister said.

Guttenberg’s third visit to Afghanistan within six months comes amidst dwindling support for the country’s military engagement among the German public and mounting criticism that the soldiers stationed there are ill equipped and not sufficiently trained to combat the Taliban insurgents.

Such criticisms have intensified following the death of three German soldiers in an ambush on a convoy by the Taliban near Kundus early this month.

But in a TV interview Guttenberg rejected charges that the three soldiers died because Germany’s contingent to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is ill-equipped and the soldiers lacked sufficient training.

He said he heard from soldiers involved in the fighting that even with heavy weapons that attack could not have been prevented. He also said the decision to strengthen the military capability of soldiers in Afghanistan does not change the nature of Germany’s involvement in that country.

These efforts are intended to protect German soldiers and to strengthen their capabilities to fight the insurgents more effectively,he said.

Guttenberg expressed optimism that the conditions for withdrawing the German forces from Afghanistan could be created by promoting the training of the Afghan security forces,in which Germany is actively involved.

“In the present situation,it looks possible that in some regions the security responsibilities could be handed over to the Afghan authorities next year,” he said.

Such a step could create the perspectives for withdrawing the German forces from Afghanistan.

However,opposition politicians have expressed concern that the induction of heavy German military hardware into Afghan conflict would make the German forces more vulnerable to insurgent attacks.

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