German Officials Call for Rethink of EU Afghanistan Policy | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 19.10.2007

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German Officials Call for Rethink of EU Afghanistan Policy

Germany's defense minister has called on the EU to strengthen its police training efforts in Afghanistan. The head of the army association went further in his critique, saying EU's Afghan plan had "failed pathetically."

Afghan army

The EU needs to do more to train Afghan soldiers and police, some German officials say

German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said the EU plan to send 195 trainers to the conflict-riven region should be reconsidered since the number is likely not high enough. He named the US as a model the EU could follow.

"They go at the situation in a completely different dimension," he told the daily Die Welt.

The head of the German Federal Armed Forces Association, Bernhard Gertz, also called for more training personnel to be sent to the region, accusing the EU and the German government of having "failed pathetically" in its Afghanistan policy.

He told the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung daily that if a country is to be rebuilt with a self-supporting security apparatus, 40 police training personnel from Germany is not near enough. He said in order to train enough police for all of Afghanistan regions, some 5,000 trainers would be needed from the EU instead of the promised 165.

Gertz also had harsh words for western efforts to create a new Afghan army. He said at best 16,000 soldiers are available to the Karsai government when it needed at least 70,000.

Deployment: Five years

Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung in front of a Tornado reconnaissance jet

Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung

Defense Minister Jung said he believed German troops could be deployed in Afghanistan for at least five more years.

"I'm not saying that we will have achieved everything in five years, but this time span could be a guideline," he told Die Welt.

Last week, Germany's lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved extending the army's mission in Afghanistan, despite growing public misgivings. The vote allows for up to 3,500 soldiers to operate in the country as part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force for another year.

But he again resisted NATO calls for German soldiers to be deployed in the southern part of the country to train Afghan security forces. German peacekeepers are currently stationed in the relatively quiet north.

But on Wednesday night, Bundeswehr soldiers were the target of a rocket attack about 30 kilometers southwest of Feisabad. It was the third attack this month. Three rockets exploded near the soldiers, but no one was hurt.

Taliban negotiations

Taliban soldiers

No negotiations with the Taliban, Jung said

The defense minister also told the paper he was against calls to negotiate with Taliban rebels because previous attempts to do so had failed.

"As long as the Taliban have not clearly sworn off violence, I believe negotiations may not be conducted," he said.

He said British troops had had negative experiences in past attempts at talks with the Taliban in the volative south of the country, which had led to more violence.

"You cannot negotiate with those who conducted a reign of terror and today are doing everything to bring about this utterly blind vision of a fundamentalist world."

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