German and Norwegian Perspectives on Euro-Atlantic Security
Edited By Robin Allers, Carlo Masala and Rolf Tamnes
Chapter 11: The Bundeswehr in the Post-Cold War International Environment
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The Bundeswehr in the Post-Cold WarInternational Environment
Sven Bernhard Gareis
In October 2013 the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) abandoned its outpost in Kunduz/North Afghanistan in the course of NATO’s drawdown in the country. The Bundeswehr left a place that more than any other has become a symbol of the fundamental changes the Bundeswehr had to undergo after the end of the Cold War from a force strictly limited to national and alliance defence into an expeditionary army. In Kunduz it became clear that German soldiers were deployed to theatres of war, where they had to fight, where they fell and where they killed. Here, on 4 September 2009, a German colonel commanded an air attack against two tank trucks hijacked by the Taliban in North Afghanistan, killing more than one hundred people – insurgent fighters as well as civilians. By this point at the latest, the legend long told by German governments about the nature of the Bundeswehr’s out-of-area deployments could no longer conceal the harsh realities in the Afghan theatre. For two decades they had tried to communicate to the public that Bundeswehr participation in international peace missions was primarily for reasons of humanitarian relief or political/technical assistance whilst combat missions or even war-fighting were ostensibly the task of war-proofed allies like the United States, France or the United Kingdom. Since 2009 German troops increasingly have been involved in intensive fighting – and German polity and the public can no longer overlook that harsh reality.
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