Germany offers troops for Afghanistan training mission


During a surprise visit to northern Afghanistan Monday, Angela Merkel said the point had not yet been reached where Germany could say, “we can pull out today.”



Germany has proposed to send as many as 800 troops to Afghanistan after combat forces pull out, offering to station the non-combat forces in both Kabul and in Mazar-i-Sharif for two years, starting in 2015.

The soldiers will form a NATO training mission and won't engage in combat, though they'll provide support and training to local forces, German defense minister Thomas de Maiziere told the Associated Press.

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Before the German troops head to Afghanistan, de Maiziere reiterated, they'd need a formal invitation from Afghanistan - because "we want to be welcome" — as well as a UN Security Council declaration authorizing their presence, wrote AFP.

"This offer is a declaration of intent by the federal government. Germany is taking an early and timely position on this important question," de Maiziere said to AFP.

There would also be conditions for the Afghan side, including a matching NATO commitment from other allies, and a "reasonable" security situation, AFP added.

Germany currently has about 4,200 soldiers in Afghanistan, a draw-down from a peak of 5,000, the third biggest commitment after the US and Great Britain.

Before any soldiers head for Central Asia, the measure will have to pass the German parliament — although the Associated Press notes that Angela Merkel looks likely to win re-election, and the military supporting center-left opposition party supports German efforts in Afghanistan.