Defense Minister de Maizière Visits Kandahar and Kabul
Enlarge image Defense Minister de Maizière in Kandahar, where he met with American and German military deployed there as part of a multi-national NATO unit. (© picture alliance / dpa) German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière made a previously unannounced visit to Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, where he met with American and German military deployed there as part of a multi-national NATO unit. It was his second visit to Afghanistan this month and served for information exchange and expressing thanks to allies.
After a stopover in Mazar-e Sharif, de Maizière traveled on to Kandahar, landing there on Wednesday morning. He met with the commander of the Regional Command South, Major General James L. Huggins of the United States. He then met with German troops serving in the integrated NATO unit there. Germany as a NATO member is participating in the multi-national, integrated unit known as NATO Signal Battalion, which is deployed in Bagram as well as in the Regional Command South (Kandahar) and Regional Command Southwest (Helmand). The region is considered a Taliban stronghold.
We are doing a good job in northern Afghanistan,” de Maizière said. “But Afghanistan is more than the north. I wanted to also gather an impression of this part of the country.”
The Bundeswehr is responsible for the northern region of the country, but as part of the current mandate, German soldiers can be deployed within the entire area of responsibility of the NATO-led ISAF mission. Every deployment of German soldiers outside the German Area of Operation in northern Afghanistan must be individually approved by the defense minister.
Defense Minister de Maizière said that the reputation of German military personnel has changed in recent years. “The German soldiers have proven that they can fight. And, conversely, our alliance partners have also realized that a networked approach, sustainability through political means, is just as important as fighting. German soldiers have a good reputation everywhere, and that makes me a little proud.”
After intense discussions and a joint lunch, de Maizière continued his trip, arriving in Kabul in the afternoon. There he met with German generals at ISAF headquarters. He then met with Afghan National Army Chief of Staff Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi at the Afghan defense ministry to learn about the situation of the Afghan troops.
Back at ISAF headquarters, he had talks with German troops. His visit was to officially conclude with a dinner on the invitation of ISAF Commander General John R. Allen.