Patrolling in Afghanistan is perilous at the best of times but even more so when your army equipment is not up to scratch. But German troops have no worries: they buy their own quality kit from high street store Tchibo.
Tchibo goods are in the front line in the war on terror
It is not unknown for armed forces to use non-standard equipment when the necessity arises. Some British troops admitted during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to dumping their standard issue SA80 assault rifles in favor of discarded AK-47s due to the former's deadly habit of jamming in sandy conditions.
However, it is slightly more unusual for soldiers to buy their own equipment for use during missions -- and even more so for them to purchase it from coffee specialist-turned consumer goods retailer Tchibo.
Bargain telescope the eyeglass of choice
The German chain which combines coffee beans and steaming lattes with hiking boots and lingerie recently had an offer that German Bundeswehr troops heading to Afghanistan found very hard to resist. The "Spekulativ" long-distance field telescope, retailing on the high street for 89.90 euros ($114.92), was found to be far more powerful than the army issue binoculars provided for troops patrolling the badlands around Masar-i-Sharif.
One patrol leader was so impressed, he organized for Tchibo surveillance equipment to be shipped over and distributed to his men.
Special Forces shop at outdoor retailer
And it doesn't end there. Members of the German army's Special Forces camped outside the troublesome city were so concerned that their camouflage uniforms may be used to identify them to Taliban and al Qaeda operatives that they organized for new and unidentifiable suits to be ordered from a German outdoor equipment store, again paying for the equipment with their own money.
Rumors that Bundeswehr personnel were preparing to camp out all night outside branches of Aldi in a bid to be the first to snap up the discount store's new range of surface-to-air missiles were unsubstantiated at the time of publication.