Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Germany; cuckolded in AFG

Let me quote myself from 17 JAN 2008 about our NATO allies in AFG:
The hints are getting stronger - Daddy is thinking about taking back the keys.
An older country - the German translation for this is,
'The US Is Taking the Reins out of Our Hands"
Well Der Spiegle - if you're just now figuring it out, then you need to read more CDR Salamander.
On Sunday, Afghan President Karzai and US chief commander McChyrstal met with tribal leaders in Kunduz. The spontaneous visit came as a surprise to the Germans forces in command of the northern area. Diplomats now believe it will become the site of a major new offensive.
The visit also indicated to Germany that larger joint missions between the US Army and Afghan units against the Taliban in Kunduz are imminent. Diplomats even expect major offensives to take place around the area where Germany's armed forces, the Bundeswehr, are stationed this summer that are similar in scale to the one launched a few weeks ago in Marja in southern Afghanistan. Karzai didn't officially announce any such plans in Kunduz this time, but he organized similar meetings in Helmand, the province where Marja is located, prior to the operation there in a bid to garner support from tribal leaders.
...General McChrystal has identified Kunduz as a second crisis zone -- following the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar -- and wants to fight far more aggressively in the region.
Meanwhile, US troops have found a fervent supporter in the governor of Kunduz Province. At the meeting with Karzai, Mohammad Omar called again for a tougher NATO crackdown. "Not only is the situation going to get worse here, but other provinces in the region will also be destabilized," Omar said. He spoke concretely about Germany's strict rules of engagement, which prevent its troops from carrying out an offensive strike against the Taliban. In the past, Omar consistently praised the US Army's rigid actions. Now he's calling on all NATO countries to relocate combat troops to the north.

It's still largely unclear what role Germany's Bundeswehr would play in an offensive against the Taliban. German troops have observed US special units accessing areas located very close to their base almost every night in recent weeks. German forces were generally kept informed about recent deployments of these tough, elite troops, but the Germans don't learn who the troops arrest or kill, or what the US's overall strategy in Kunduz may be. "The US is taking the reins out of our hands," one high-ranking officer says.
My readers have been hearing this for years - but I'll review again.

The minority report at Christmas '06 was: the USA made a mistake giving control of AFG to NATO. We should ignore the
promises and overly optiminstic plans coming out of Mons.

By the summer of '07 when NATO couldn't even scrap together some cargo helicopters and would not find the needed caveat free maneuver battalions - the understanding took root that NATO had culminated and Uncle Sam needed to find a way take back the keys without losing AFG and/or break NATO.

Through '08 the plan was made and execution began. We watched it adjust and fill out through '09. We will see through this year the tipping point when we split Regional Command South into
Southeast and Southwest as the British are moved north and east, CAN and NLD start packing their bags, and the USMC reinforces their stamp in the hardest part of AFG.

Europe has to face the fact that they have been measured and found wanting. We would not have the problems we are having now if DEU, FRA, TUR, GRC, BEL, ESP, ITA and others in NATO had from '05/'06 had the same attitude as USA, GBR, CAN, NLD, EST, DNK and the Baltic nations.

Don't complain when others have to clean up your mess. Sad. The German military could have done great things.


UltimaRatioRegis said...

Makes one have every confidence in Article V of the NATO charter, doesn't it? 

With all respect to Marlene Dietrich, perhaps some new lyrics?

Sag, wo die soldaten sind?
Alles das sitzen, sie geschwind...

Anonymous said...

AFG now is not anymore an Article V case, it is just perfectly screwed up.

The original German contribution to OEF in Autumn 2001 was in accordance with Article V. It had almost non of the current caveats and contributed the troops the Pentagon asked for. You can read the decision of the German parliamant for taking part in OEF at (in German):


(i) There is hardly any regional caveat (section 7 mission area). Under ENDURING FREEDOM command, German troops can be send to the Arabian peninsula, middle and central asia, north-east Africa and their neighbouring seas, if the governments of those nations agree. The clause does not apply to the government of Afghanistan, where they may be send to anyway. Furthermore, there is NO limitation within Afghanistan.

(ii) There are no special caveats or rules of engagements given, but overall compliance to international law. German troops may be used in full capability (section 3 objective) to take out command and leadership centres of terrorists, fight terrorists, capture and bring them to court. This is however not a police job, as sections 2 (constituonal basis) and 5 (employed forces) make clear: German troops may be used for mission and mission support, leadrship, and reconaissance in a case of mutual self-defense of souvereign nations.

(iii) Section 5 describes the employed forces in detail. For the following I have no proof but only my recollection from one of the most known German books on the Afghanistan war (Koelbl and Ihlau): the German government was already prepared to contribute to brigades but then reacted with a sigh, when Rumsfeld's Pentagon only askes for special forces, reconnaissance, naval forves and some support staff. It more or less exactly wrote down the Pentagon request in the law. So the US got, what it asked for. 

The caveats started during early 2002 then the US decried common interpretations of international law (in particular Gitmo and targeted killings) and (according to the source above) in response to some specifics of the Afghanistan campaign, which are however not disclosed in detail. If you read Koelbl and Ihlaus between the lines it seems that the German government was afraid of charges against breach of humanitarian law against its troops.

Conveniently the US government declared the Afghanistan mission to be successful a few month later. The law for the German mission was traditionally limited to a year.

From then on, it went south.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Guest below is hajo-hi.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

So it is the fault of the US and GWB that the Germans have proven worthless in AFG?  Right. 

CDR Salamander said...

You simply do not know what you are talking about WRT caveats.  

Try again.

Quartermaster said...

Spiegel, 'mander. Your keyboard is as dyslexic as mine :)

It really is a shame. The Bundeswher has some of the best troops in the world, and one of the world's worst governments over it. Sounds a bit like the US Military these days, nicht wahr?

Casey Tompkins said...

One particular sentance jumped out at me, which referenced the "civilian leader" of the German mission. Is this a German thing, a European thing, or does everyone do it? I don't recall ever hearing about a civilian leader with respect to the US armed forces in Afghanistan, unless I missed something.

Anonymous said...

Not necessarily.

I was about Article 5 that is response to 911 and intial Enduring Freedom. Somewhen in 2002 US claimed Afghanistan campaign was successful and left AFG formally to UN/ISAF.

From then to now there are almost ten years in between. Some are entirely German blame, some not.

hajo-hi said...

In what respect exactly?

Reason for existence of caveats?

Content and fromal level of caveats? The caveat US and GB find most obnoxious - no German troops in southern AFG - was not in existence in 2001/OEF, it emerged from UN/ISAF agreements. It now is existent on law level, that is no German commander my ignore it. AFAIK no there were initally no caveats for German troops in 2001/OEF on rules of engagement level, even (expecially) for the special forces. They were added later. Please correct me if I am wrong. 

ewok40k said...

well, civilian government is a projection (via voting) of the civilian society...
army can't elect itself a better government, and certainly not a better society
BTW this affects US too, though to lesser degree army: at war, society at the mall...

SubIconoclast said...

The US military operates entirely under civilian leadership, responsive to all three branches of federal government.  This is a construct we take quite seriously as professionals.  I wouldn't say that everyone does business that way, but the US certainly does.  

I think the difference in execution is that the relationship between uniformed military and civilian leadership allows for more dialogue and give-and-take in policy development in the US than it does in Germany.  Each nation has very good reasons for the balance it has chosen in its civ-mil relationship, but friction in the current German relationship doesn't seem to be helping Germany's standing within NATO.

Democracy doesn't always produce effective government... one more thing we seem to share with the Germans.