Key Messages on the German Engagement in AfghanistanEnlarge image Afghanistan (© Creative Commons)
1. Germany is a strong and reliable partner in the international efforts to help build an Afghanistan that will never again become a haven for terrorists. Ever since international operations began in fall 2001, Germany has been thoroughly committed to the stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan, building on historically strong bilateral German-Afghan relations and decades of German reconstruction assistance. The German engagement is fully in line with the priorities for the way ahead in Afghanistan as identified by NATO and the broader international community: to train the Afghan security forces; to protect the Afghan population; to generate employment opportunities; and to help the Afghan Government to provide education, basic services, and infrastructure. In all of these joint efforts, a responsible handover to Afghan authorities is the guiding principle. Step by step, within the framework of clearly defined stages with interim goals, the Afghans are to assume responsibility for their country.
2. Some cornerstones of the German Engagement:
- All in all, over the years more than 100,000 German soldiers and civilians have contributed to the efforts aiming at the stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan.
- With currently up to 5,350 troops, Germany is the third largest troop contributor. The German Bundestag voted on January 28 to extend the troop’s mandate with a sound majority.
- With a projected five-fold increase in troops engaged in military training and partnering activities to 1,500 and an increase in police training to 260, Germany is among the largest contributors of training for the Afghan security forces.
- With $1.6 billion spent and an additional $2.8 billion pledged through 2013, Germany is the third largest bilateral donor of foreign assistance. In addition, Germany contributes some 20 percent to the EU assistance to Afghanistan totalling over $2.5 billion.
- Germany has been NATO’s lead nation for the stabilization of Afghanistan’s northern region since 2006.
- Germany was the first country to leave Kabul to establish a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).
- Germany’s engagement is not limited to the North: German reconstruction projects, air transport, and reconnaissance and communication capabilities benefit all of Afghanistan.
Enlarge image Germany hosted the first international Afghanistan conference here in Petersberg near Bonn. (© picture-alliance/dpa) 3. So far, Germany has hosted three international Afghanistan conferences, two in Bonn (2001 and 2002) and one in Berlin (2004), which have helped to reach international agreement on a comprehensive approach in Afghanistan, combining (1) reconstruction aid, (2) capacity building for government institutions, and (3) military means. Chaired by Afghanistan and hosted, once again, by Germany, Afghan and international leaders as well as representatives of the civil society will meet in Bonn on December 5, 2011, to discuss the peaceful development of Afghanistan beyond 2014.
4. Military means alone are insufficient to build a stable Afghanistan capable of protecting its citizens and providing essential services. Only through a comprehensive approach that combines the use of military tools and reconstruction efforts, it will be possible to establish a self-reliant security situation and sustainable development.
I. Reconstruction Aid
Reconstruction and development are at the heart of the German engagement in Afghanistan. In light of the strategic decisions taken at the London and Kabul Conferences and NATO’s Lisbon Summit, the importance of civilian reconstruction and development assistance will even grow in the future. The German Government has therefore nearly doubled its funding for reconstruction and development to up to 430 million euros (about 560 million USD) annually
2010-2013, making Germany the third largest donor to Afghanistan. These funds are complemented by humanitarian aid (approx. 10 million euros annually) and development-oriented emergency and transitional aid (approx. 10 million euros annually), targeting the most vulnerable groups in the country (refugees, returnees, communities affected by natural disaster etc.). Between 2002 and 2010 Germany provided a total of 1.6 billion euros (about 2.1 billion USD) for Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development.
Despite experiencing some setbacks, much has been achieved through German contributions in Afghanistan since 2002, particularly in sectors such as
II. Capacity Building for Government Institutions and Security Forces
Enlarge image Germany supports police training in Afghanistan. (© picture-alliance/ dpa) With a view to establishing capable Afghan police forces, Germany has deployed 170 experts, advisors, and trainers (target: 260) and also funds the construction of critically needed police infrastructure such as regional headquarters and academies. The German engagement is complemented by German military police who assist in police training. German expertise also helps build capacity in the judicial sector, criminal investigation, anti-corruption, and border management. Germany contributes $19 million to the international Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan and provided $22 million in support for the Afghan national elections in 2009.
Germany is strongly involved in building a capable Afghan National Army and has increased the total number of troops involved in training and partnering activities to 1,500. In addition, Germany has contributed roughly $115 million to the international Afghan National Army Trust Fund so far.
In all these efforts to build capable Afghan security forces, German trainers follow what is known as the “partnering approach.” When Afghan National Army forces are deployed after training, German trainers deploy side by side with them to allow for a stronger presence in the field and continued training and mentoring.
Germany will contribute $50 million to the international reintegration fund over five years. The fund will create employment opportunities to convince insurgents, who are fighting more out of economic necessity than for ideological reasons, to lay down their arms and rejoin society.
III. Military Engagement
Enlarge image A Bundeswehr soldier on patrol in Kunduz in northern Afghanistan (© picture-alliance/dpa) The German Armed Forces support Afghan government institutions in establishing and maintaining security to facilitate reconstruction of the country in a secure environment. The Bundeswehr will also provide the necessary protection for the additional police trainers and support the training of police officers with German military police.
In addition, Germany runs two Provincial Reconstruction Teams under shared civilian-military command in Kunduz and Feyzabad, a Provincial Advisory Team in Taloqan, a forward support base in Mazar-e-Sharif, and a military medical treatment facility.
Eventually, security should have an “Afghan face.” The Bundeswehr presence is only a means to achieve this. Overall, Germany deploys up to 5,350 soldiers mainly in the northern region of Afghanistan. Since 2006, Germany has been NATO’s lead nation for the stabilization of Afghanistan’s North.
In light of the situation on the ground, the German government will decide about drawing down the German contingent of troops as security responsibility is gradually transferred to the Afghan side. Every option to withdraw troops as swiftly as possible is to be used, provided this does not jeopardize the security situation. Withdrawal will then take place as far as possible in the given situation and provided it does not jeopardise either German troops or the sustainability of the handover process.