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February 9, 2010

The German cabinet has cleared the way for additional soldiers to be deployed to Afghanistan. The increase is Germany's contribution to implementing the strategy agreed upon at a recent Afghanistan conference.

Afghan security forces stand guard near a burnt fuel tanker
Afghan security forces are meant to profit from the increase in German troopsImage: AP

Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet approved the plan at a meeting in Berlin on Tuesday. Once the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, gives its approval, an additional 850 German soldiers could be sent to Afghanistan, raising the total number of Bundeswehr servicemen in the country to 5,350.

Of the fresh troops, 350 have been earmarked as a flexible reserve for special situations like securing parliamentary elections planned for later this year.

Germany also plans to reinforce the troops training Afghan security personnel. In addition to police trainers and other experts, 1,400 German soldiers will be responsible for training the Afghans, up from the current 280.

In the framework of plans to offer Taliban fighters a financial incentive to put down their weapons, the government pledged to pay 50 million euros ($ 68.6 million) into an international re-integration fund over the next five years.

The new mandate runs until February 28, 2011; beginning in mid-2011, Germany plans to begin a step-by-step reduction of its troops in Afghanistan.

Editor: Chuck Penfold