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German Bundeswehr

Germany's army union slams conditions for soldiers in Mali

The head of Germany's support organization for soldiers has criticized the poor conditions for Germans serving in Mali. They lack water, leadership and a plan, the group has said.

Germany's military union, or Bundeswehrverband (DBwV), joined several politicians on Monday in criticizing the government's approach to the army's participation in a United Nations mission in Mali, which is still reeling from an armed conflict in 2012.

Berlin risked "making the same mistakes over and over again like in Afghanistan," said DBwV head Andre Wüstner in an interview with the popular "Bild" newspaper. "In Mali, there is little to be seen of a well coordinated approach" to maintaining peace, he said.

Wüstner said the government should carry out a wide-ranging interdepartmental evaluation of the Bundeswehr's mission in Mali with relation to developments in the country. "This is what allies do when considering whether or not to extend a mission. Anything else is irresponsible, especially for the people who risk their lives every day!"

German soldiers 'lack water, coordination'

The DBeV's outrage follows similar comments from Hans-Peter Bartels of the Social Democrats (SPD), who heads the parliament's defense committee. Bartels said that the mission suffered from a lack of coordination, regulated access to water and poor communication between the military and civilian aid organizations.

Bartels described the stabilization mission in Mali as the "UN's most dangerous operation."  The lawmaker warned that the situation could easily deteriorate into chaos and mismanagement as it had in Afghanistan. He added that soldiers deserved a distinct start and end date to their tour.

"It is important have a plan, that is, a realistic and cooperative strategy with international helpers," said Bartels in an interview with the German media supplier Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen was set to visit Mali on Monday after being delayed in Nigeria by computer problems on her airplane.

es/tj (AFP, dpa, KNA)