Paramilitary

KABUL/BERLIN | | afghanistan

KABUL/BERLIN (Own report) - Berlin is supplementing the deployment of additional combat troops to Afghanistan with measures to reinforce the development of paramilitary units. The number of police officers that are supposed to train Afghan repressive forces in the name of the EU is to be doubled, as demanded by the German government. Afghan police are increasingly being used in combat situations and are sustaining proportionally higher fatal casualties during counter-insurgency operations than the Afghan army. Berlin also wants to deploy technical relief units (Federal Agency for Technical Relief - THW) at the Hindu Kush to take on tasks that had previously been carried out by the military. The extension of occupation activities in North Afghanistan will include so-called development aid organizations, among them the German government's Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (Association for Technical Cooperation - GTZ). The preparation of the troops and units for the suppression of the escalating insurgency includes training programs for Afghan troops. According to its own admission, the Bundeswehr (German military) is training children soldiers.

Offensive

The enhancement of the paramilitary units proceeds parallel to the deployment of new combat troops ("Quick Reaction Force," QRF) to Afghanistan. This summer the QRF will be placed under the authority of the German ISAF "Regional Command North" and stand ready for combat missions. The German Defense Ministry still claims that the unit's task spectrum only ranges "from patrols to being a military 'fire department' in emergencies."[1] But in fact, it is referring to offensive warfare. This is evident through last fall's QRF operation, where insurgent positions were attacked (Harekate Yolo II) under German command.[2] The QRF is being put together from the 21st Armored Brigade in Augustdorf (near Bielefeld in North Rhine Westphalia), a brigade exemplary of the Bundeswehr's newly emerging interventionist tradition. This brigade participated in the operation in Somalia (1993), Bosnia Herzegovina (various tours beginning in 1996), Macedonia (1999) and Yugoslavia/Serbia ("Kosovo" several tours beginning 1999). The deployment in Afghanistan will be its most offensive mission.

Civilian Military

If the situation demands, the QRF has additional military and civilian personnel at its disposal to carry out its mission in the occupation, according to the Bundeswehr. "Depending on the situation (...) additional specialists" could be called in "for example intelligence forces, engineer corps, forces of the Civilian Military Cooperation (CIMIC) or the military police" (MPs). In addition the QRF can rely on "the infrastructure as well as interpreters and translators of other German units."[3] A future lack of personnel is not to be excluded. Securing the exterior perimeter of the Bundeswehr's Kunduz Camp against persistent rocket attacks has already led to a significant reduction in the normal patrols and "Provincial Reconstruction Teams" (PRT). According to reports, the "normal PRT work outside the perimeter of the camp (...) has nearly come to a halt."[4] The reason behind the projected troop reinforcements in Afghanistan - and Berlin's intensified efforts to prepare paramilitary units - is the growing difficulty in combating the insurgents.

Police

This has also an effect on the Afghan police. Germany began directing the formation of the non-military repression forces in Kabul in early 2002, which it turned over to EU authority on June 15, 2007 because of complaints from its rivals in the occupation that it was not investing enough. Forty police officers and a maximum budget of twelve-million Euros per year were insufficient in comparison to the billions coming out of Washington. Berlin has embarked on a new course and demands that the EU double its efforts to develop the Afghan police. The intention is to recruit more non-military repressive forces to reinforce the personnel necessary for the counter-insurgency.

Canon Fodder

This is already to a large extent taking place. Last summer, the German press reported that one out of six US-American police instructors in Afghanistan was military. Police officers can be "trained quicker and cheaper than soldiers" it is said. This is why Washington has put through a reinforcement of 20,000 Afghan police. In Brussels, the "increased blending of military and police tasks" is viewed critically, even though behind the scenes it can be heard that "we also need to engage in paramilitary training."[5] NATO had already made experience with the deployment of Afghan policemen in several military operations.[6] The press reported that "in this kind of combat, according to police instructors, twenty times more policemen are killed than soldiers". "This is why some speak in terms of 'canon fodder'."

Machineguns

Germany is helping to promote the paramilitarization of counter-insurgency. Bundeswehr soldiers are participating in EU training programs for Afghan policemen. The training encompasses not only "how to carry out identity and vehicle checks in the context of checkpoint operations" and "the recognition of booby-traps and explosives."[7] The training also includes the use of submachineguns (AK-47). Machineguns are legally recognized weapons of warfare and their use presupposes combatant status. Every unit equipped with these weapons takes on a military nature. According to reports, the Conference of Interior Ministers of the German Federal States recommended in a secret resolution that German policemen deployed in Afghanistan also be equipped with machineguns ("G36").[8]

Replace Soldiers

Berlin is also planning restructuring inside the Bundeswehr. For example tasks that can be accomplished without combat weapons should increasingly be taken over by civilians. A Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) advance unit will soon seek out possibilities of relieving German soldiers in Afghanistan. According to reports, "military officers envisage for example that THW assistants could replace soldiers in fire prevention units."[9] The THW has always been cooperating with the Bundeswehr in the so called disaster management. It is revealing its true nature as a military aid organization through its deployment in military interventions.

Integrated

So called development aid organizations are increasingly drawn into the maelstrom of the militarization of German foreign policy. Last Saturday, the PRT in Kunduz opened a field office ("Provincial Advisory Team", PAT) in Taloqan in northern Afghanistan. Engaged in the context of the Bundeswehr's so called civilian military network, PAT will be extending the control over new sectors of Afghan territory and therefore, according to the Bundeswehr, "involve locally-based staff of the German Association for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) in its activities."[10] Officially an implementation organization of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the GTZ is affirming its role as a component of the military occupation strategy.

Children Soldiers

To build a broad base for its counter insurgency, the Bundeswehr is training Afghan military personnel. According to its own admissions, the Bundeswehr is also instructing minors in the art of warfare. In a report on the German training program in "Camp Shaheen" of the 209th Corps of the Afghan National Army (ANA), one reads that the age range of recruits is rather "wide". According to the Bundeswehr mission command "the youngest is just 16". The children soldiers are being trained in the German controlled sector of Afghanistan, approximately 20 kilometres south west of Mazar-e-Sharif. "The older soldiers are more calm and more restrained than their younger comrades," a German military instructor notices according to the Bundeswehr mission command report: "They do have concrete ideas of what to expect."[11] The training in "Camp Shaheen" includes the instruction in "common Afghan small arms (...) such as rifles, light and heavy machine guns" as well as "some basics of combat missions."[12]

Asking Too Much

Even though Germany is cooperating with the USA in the counter insurgency in Afghanistan, it does maintain a relative independence from Washington. Berlin is still refusing to participate in combat missions in southern Afghanistan - where its troops would be under US command. According to a German diplomat formerly stationed in Kabul, "participation in a mission - and therefore taking risks - without participation in determining its political condition or structure," is simply "asking too much".[13]

Please read also: On the Ruins of War, The Greens' local in Kabul, The Retreat Option, Hopeless, To Accomplish a Mission and Perspective of Withdrawal.

[1] Brigade 21 übernimmt Auftrag als Quick Reaction Force; www.bundeswehr.de 13.02.2008
[2] Damals wurde die QRF von den norwegischen Streitkräften gestellt, die im Sommer nach Südafghanistan verlegt werden. See also Mandatsbruch and Koloniales Modell
[3] Quick Reaction Force - eine verantwortungsvolle Aufgabe; www.bundeswehr.de 06.02.2008
[4] Bundeswehrlager beschossen; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 21.02.2008
[5] Polizisten mit paramilitärischen Kenntnissen; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 03.08.2007
[6] Genannt werden die Operationen Riverdance, Mountain Lion, Mountain Fury, Medusa und Mountain Eagle. Polizisten mit paramilitärischen Kenntnissen; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 03.08.2007
[7] Für mehr Sicherheit; www.einsatz.bundeswehr.de 01.02.2008
[8], [9] Bundeswehr will Soldaten durch THW-Helfer ersetzen; Spiegel Online 16.02.2008
[10] Regionales Beraterteam in der afghanischen Nordprovinz Takhar; www.bundeswehr.de 23.02.2008
[11] Militärische Grundausbildung in Afghanistan; www.einsatz.bundeswehr.de 08.02.2008
[12] Militärische Grundausbildung in Afghanistan Teil 2; www.einsatz.bundeswehr.de 12.02.2008
[13] Reinhard Schlagintweit über seine Liebe zu Afghanistan, Fehler gegenüber den Taliban und den Einsatz deutscher Soldaten; Asiapolis 16.04.2007