The German armed forces are conducting their biggest operation yet in Afghanistan. The Bundeswehr is
supporting the Afghan Army with around 300 members of the Quick Reaction Force
(QRF) in operation "Eagle" against insurgents near Kundus. For the first time, infantry
fighting vehicles with heavy firepower have been deployed.
German Army Inspector General Wolfgang Schneiderhan stated in a press conferences that "now is the time to carry out this escalation" because of the upcoming Afghan elections and the increase in attacks against the Bundeswehr. He also announced that the rules of engagement are currently being revised, reports the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German).
These changes in policy and language are quite remarkable considering Germany's history and previous Afghanistan engagement. Spiegel Online International explains:
For Germans, having their military on the offensive for the first time since World War II involves passing over a major psychological threshold. And it takes place in the context of a war that has grown more unpopular over the years, after having initially received widespread support. It's also a war that Jung -- to the consternation of many -- has refused to call a war.
In Thursday's newspapers, German commentators have mixed reactions to the news. Some are angry, while others seem almost fatalistic. But they all agree that a psychological threshold has been crossed and that Germany's "special status" in NATO is over.
Dear members of atlantic-community.org,
Has indeed a "psychological threshold" been crossed in Germany?
Do you think the Bundeswehr's more assertive approach in Afghanistan marks a permanent change in German defense policy?
Will this assuage criticism of a perceived lack of burden-sharing within NATO?
Do you think the German-Afghan offensive will be successful and lead to more stability at the Hindu Kush?
Is public support in Germany strong enough to accept a temporary increase in German and Afghan casualties, which is likely to happen during an offensive?
The United States started an offensive in Helmand province in early July and suffered 31 US casualties this month, a sad new record for the US in Afghanistan. Will the NATO allies' tough policy provide stability during the Afghan presidential elections in August?
Endnote: Newsy' press review discusses the prospects of Obama's new counter-insurgency policy in this video: