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Germany

Another year of "Enduring Freedom" for German Troops

On Thursday Germany's parliament debates whether to prolong the deployment of German troops under the aegis of "Enduring Freedom" for another year. The vote next week may help thaw US-German relations.

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Prolonging the year abroad for German soldiers?

Just two weeks ago Germany's defense minister said that the government would call for a six-month extension of its missions in Afghanistan, Kuwait and the Horn of Africa in the "fight against terrorism." On Wednesday, however, the cabinet called for a one year prolongation of the country's mandate as part of the U.S.-led mission "Enduring Freedom."

Fearful of creating further stress in already tense relations between Germany and the U.S., the government's change of mind came after American protests rained down on Berlin.

Approval expected

It's now expected that parliament will endorse the mission. Next week members of Germany's Bundestag will cast their vote on the mandate, which runs out on November 15.

According to the government, the extension will cost 184 million euro ($184 million), which will be funded by the defense budget.

Germany's contribution to the U.S.-led mission "Enduring Freedom" consists of around 100 special forces soldiers in Afghanistan, 50 soldiers and six tanks equipped to detect chemical and biological attacks in Kuwait, and 830 naval personnel patrolling the waters around the Horn of Africa. Currently 1,250 Germans are involved in the mission; the mandate allows for up to 3,900 soldiers.

Germany the peace-monger?

The German participation in "Enduring Freedom" is largely seen as a symbolic show of support for the U.S. An extension of the mandate may help to thaw U.S.-German relations.

Berlin is still working on mending its relationship with the U.S. after Chancellor Schröder antagonized the transatlantic partner by vowing not to take part in a U.S.-led war against Iraq during the recent election campaign.

Defense Minister Peter Struck further soured Washington's mood by adding that war tanks and personnel would be removed from Kuwait in the event of war. Since the election Struck has avoided commenting on the topic in public, but has made comments since then showing that he would be open to leaving the tanks in their current location on Iraq’s borders.

Co-policing in Afghanistan

In a further move which may appease the U.S., Germany has agreed, together with the Netherlands, to take charge of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan starting in mid-February. ISAF is responsible for guaranteeing security in and around Kabul.

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