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German Forces Launch Offensive in Northern Afghanistan

5:33 PM, Jul 23, 2009 • By ULF GARTZKE
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Several hundred Bundeswehr soldiers, backed by heavy "Marder" tanks and fighter jets, are currently helping about 1,200 Afghan National Army forces conduct major anti-terrorist operations near the Taliban stronghold of Chahar Dara, southwest of the city of Kunduz, where the bulk of Germany's roughly 4,000 troops are stationed. The fighting--which started on Sunday and involves looking for Taliban / Al Qaeda fighters "village by village and house by house"--is expected to go on until at least next week. The Bundeswehr soldiers are part of the German-led NATO Quick Reaction Force (QRF), which provides force protection and serves as emergency back-up for Alliance troops. Finally, as German media have pointed out, the current Afghanistan offensive marks the first time since the end of WW II that Germany's soldiers are again involved in major ground combat operations.

The operation, which is being fought mainly by Afghan soldiers trained by the Bundeswehr, marks a further step away from Germany's original stabilization mission and towards a more offensive military operation. Slowly and without any official announcement, German soldiers are being drawn into the fight against the Taliban, who have massively increased their attacks on the Germans in recent months.

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