While Afghan leaders gather in Bonn on Monday for talks on establishing a new government, German troops will be preparing for their first stage of deployment in the war against terrorism.
Starting Monday German troops will be deployed for the war on terrorism
On Tuesday at the Social Democrats' Party Congress, Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping announced that it was time for Germany to start fulfilling its military promise to the US. "Beginning Monday we will add our support to the US," Scharping said, referring to the government's cry of "unlimited solidarity" with the US following the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Initially, the scope of German involvement will be limited. German troops will only be responsible for airlifting military equipment and humanitarian supplies from Ramstein Air Base in Germany to an American air base in Incirlic, Turkey. From there the Americans will continue with the transport to Afghanistan.
The airlift operation is restricted to two months and will not require German troops to leave NATO territory, Scharping said.
In his statement on Tuesday, Scharping did not say how many German soldiers would actually be involved in the mission, nor did he mention plans for further deployment of troops.
The German government's announcement on Tuesday comes just a few days after the "Bundestag" or Parliament approved sending up to 3,900 troops, the largest combat contingent to serve overseas since the end of World War Two.