The ISAF mission ends at the end of the year. Brigadier General Franz Weidhüner, responsible for Germany's withdrawal, talks with DW about the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the security situation in the country.
DW: How far is the German military with its withdrawal from Afghanistan?
Franz Weidhüner: The relocation started about one and a half years ago and now we have brought back some 18,000 tons of air-freight to Germany and another 4,500 tons over land. At the starting point we had a stock of 1,800 vehicles, 1,700 containers and approximately 150,000 items like tents, weapons and ammunition. The containers are brought over land to Germany and the military vehicles as air-freight to the logistic transition point in Trabzon, Turkey.
From Turkey the vehicles are transported to Germany on ships. Nearly all German troops stationed here in Afghanistan are currently involved in the relocation. The core group consists of up to 300 soldiers overseeing the relocation, the Bundeswehr's biggest logistics operation ever.
Not all of the materiel will be brought back to Germany. What is staying in Afghanistan?
The equipment for 800 soldiers will remain here in Afghanistan, which may be needed in a possible training mission called "Train Advise Assist" (TAA). In addition, military materiel, which first will be demilitarized and disabled, will be auctioned off to local bidders.
What does the withdrawal mean for the Afghan population? How can security be guaranteed when at the end of the year most of the troops are gone?
The Afghans are already responsible for security. The Afghan security forces proved their capability during the recent elections. We only support them in the already mentioned areas of Train Advice Assist, for example the optimization of logistical processes. In addition we support the basic medical care of the security forces by providing medical supplies. That also includes training medical staff.
How will you guarantee security for the German soldiers remaining in the country after the end of the ISAF mission?
There will be some security forces among the 800 soldiers. The task will be taken care of by participating nations.
How do you see the internal situation of Afghanistan?
Of course it all depends on the elections. We have experienced two rounds and now they will be recounted. We have to wait for this process to run its course.
Many Afghans have worked and are still working for the ISAF mission. What kind of protection will they have when the troops are gone?
We take special care of local staff. They are in danger and if they are threatened, they can talk to us. We check this individually and when we believe that a person is in real danger the person can leave for Germany. At the moment we have offered this option to around 300 local staff.
Brigadier General Franz Weidhüner is stationed in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif and responsible for the relocation of German army materiel to Germany.