http://www.worldmeets.us/images/Bundeswehr-Faizabad-hanfover_pic.png

A German soldier carries the flag at a turnover ceremony on

Germany's former base in Faizabad, Afghanistan. The symbolic

key to the camp was handed over to Afghan police who will

have a training center on the site. The Aga Khan Foundation

will use one of the building complexes for university purposes.

 

 

The Beginning of the End for the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan (Financial Times Deutschland, Germany)

 

"With 52 deaths so far, it has been the bloodiest deployment of German troops since the end of World War II. But it is over. ... Until Tuesday, the date of that last day was the best kept secret in Faizabad. The soldiers spoke reverently of 'D-Day,' a reference to the day Allied forces landed in Normandy. Except that D-Day in 1944 marked the end of the war. Hardly anyone believes that to be the case in Afghanistan. ... skepticism is growing about what progress will remain once foreign troops have left."

 

By Joachim Zepelin

 

Translated By Ulf Behncke

 

October 18, 2012

 

Germany - Financial Times Deutschland - Original Article (German)

German troops on patrol in Kunduz, Afghanistan, in 2010: The largest German military deployment since World War II - not long ago a taboo idea - is nearing its end. German troops feel an emptiness, having a sense that the mission - and the war - are far from over.

 

DEUTSCHE WELLE NEWS, GERMANY: Lt. Gen. Rainer Glatz, Commander of Bundeswehr Operations, discusses and attack on allied forces in Kabul, Apr. 22, 00:12:05 RealVideo

The withdrawal from Afghanistan has begun: the Bundeswehr is pulling out of the first of their larger bases. What remains is a feeling of not having completed the mission - and fear of a new war.

 

In the middle of the cargo hold, the luggage is piling up. Backpacks, boxes and two large dog kennels. Sixteen Passengers with body armor are pressed into the upholstered seats of the Bundeswehr helicopter, in which they sweat more than they would in the heat outside. A soldier looks into the colorful box in his hands, making sure the three turtles he wants to take home are still moving. Another lures two dogs through the narrow space into the kennels and locks them in. A pastor is on board - his mission, too, has ended. They're homeward bound. To Germany. The pilot switches on the engine.

 

Another squad of German troops is also set to leave the Bundeswehr base in Faizabad  this September day. Eight years ago, the Germans built this base in the far north of Afghanistan for up to 500 troops. Now it is the first major base to be vacated. On Tuesday, they handed the camp over to Afghan police. It's the beginning of the end of one of the Bundeswehr's most controversial deployments ever. The withdrawal from Afghanistan has begun.

 

In December 2001, the federal government sent the first troops to the Hindu Kush to fight the radical Islamic Taliban. With 52 deaths so far, it has been the bloodiest deployment of German troops since the end of World War II. But it is over. Due to public pressure, politicians have decided that by 2014 the Bundeswehr will be out of Afghanistan - even if the mission hasn't been completed and the country still isn't stabilized.

 

The pull-out is the greatest logistical operation in its history: over the next two years, 8,650 containers will have to be shipped back to Germany, 250 filled with ammunition. Add to that 1,900 vehicles, 1,200 of which are armored. Thousands of computers, printers, phones, dishes, tents, cots and generators are being counted, packaged and shipped. There has never been anything on this scale.

 

Lieutenant-Colonel Gunnar Steinseifer sits in his sparsely furnished office with a stack of colorful PowerPoint print outs on the table before him. They show how goods will flow and personnel moved. The officer is the chief of the Logistics and Support Battalion in Mazar-i-Sharif, the "supreme storekeeper" of German troops in the Hindu Kush. Ask this numbers man how to plan such a mission and he'll tell you: "To begin with, you need five liters of bottled water and another five bulk liters a man per day." Whenever somebody somewhere in the German area of operations needed a pair of pliers, a mattress or a weapon, Steinseifer had them. When he looks at the flow of material today, he sees a different picture: "The arrows are reversed."

 

The rate at which his stock is dwindling gives a sense of what's happening just outside. For weeks, more fuel has flowed out of the tanks than usual - on average 84,000 liters a day [22,190 gallons]. "We require a lot more transport capacity now" says Steinseifer, who also provides fuel for America's huge cargo aircraft. Over 30,000 U.S. troops have already been pulled out, and more than 70 bases given up.

 

Now it's the Germans' turn to pull out. Faizabad is to be the model. In his head, the chief logistics officer has it all worked out: he knows to the exact day when something will arrive at his door, where it will be stored and where it will need to be forwarded. Only a broken crane can stop the flow. A scouting party collected and tagged every single item and associated them with one of the 3,714 inventory codes. It was then decided what will remain in Faizabad or sold in the country. The rest is bound for Germany - 450 containers and 112 vehicles.

 

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SEE ALSO ON THIS:
The Nation, Pakistan: U.S.-Afghan-Taliban Talks Must Benefit Pakistan, Not India
Guardian, U.K.: U.S. Suspends Joint Military Operations with Afghan Forces

Telegraph, U.K.: Taliban Hit U.S.- U.K. Afghan Base; 'Miss' Prince Harry

The Independent, U.K.: Obama's Foreign Policy of Reconciliation in 'Tatters'

Frontier Post, Pakistan: Obama's Drone War a PR Disaster for America

Der Spiegel, Germany: President of Dissapointment: How Obama Failed to Deliver

Frontier Post, Pakistan: Panetta Spills Beans: U.S. Handing Afghanistan to India
Thawra Al-Wada, Syria: Middle East Borders to Be Drawn in Arab Blood
Tunis Hebdo, Tunisia: A Method to Bush's Madness?
The Frontier Post: Co-opted U.S. Media Will Always Blame Pakistan
The Frontier Post: Just Say 'Thank You' to Cut in American Aid
The Frontier Post: Letter to A.Q. Khan Resembles CIA Iraq War Forgery
Guardian, U.K.: Pakistani Generals 'Helped Sell Nuclear Secrets'
Guardian, U.K.: Pakistan Hits Back at Mullen Over Journalist's Murder Claim
Dawn, Pakistan: Even if U.S. Nuclear Accusations are True, Pakistan Broke No Law
Asia Times, Hong Kong: America Homes in on al-Qaeda's New Chief
The Nation, Pakistan: CIA Chief Panetta Says Zawahiri Living in Pakistan
The Frontier Post, Pakistan: Obama Withdrawal Plans 'Spell Doom' for Pakistan
The Frontier Post, Pakistan: Karzai Finally Awakens to American Treachery
The Daily Jang, Pakistan: The Beginning of the End of U.S. in Afghanistan?

 

Life's little luxuries were the first to go. Everything that made life in this war-ravaged country a little more tolerable was flown out almost immediately: stainless steel kitchen containers are gone, as are deli meats, cheeses - sandwiches haven't been available for weeks. The field kitchen now prepares "just add water" group lunches. Near the end, the chef hands out EPAs - one-man ration packs containing a small cardboard box with non-perishables. The last beer is served in the small, brightly lit "Talibar." The memorial for the four dead German and one Czech soldier has already been taken down: four and a half tons of stone, numbered and crated. It will be re-built in a German barracks. Even the Maypole, which stood in the middle of the camp, is headed home before beginning its second life as an exhibit in the Bundeswehr Military History Museum - which even sent a curator. The transmitter shack of the Bundeswehr radio station, the baptismal font and the flag of the military chaplaincy are museum-bound, too.

 

The final prayer resonates with nostalgia. Military Chaplain Jörg Reglinski speaks of the starry sky and mountain peaks around them, then sings with his 40-strong uniformed congregation Great Lord, We Praise You. For communion, the men form a circle around the concrete altar and Chaplain Reglinski deconsecrates the cross, the candleholder and the chalice. Some soldiers had a hard time saying their goodbyes, he says later. For them, their tour of duty also brought positive experiences, such as making it possible for girls to attend school. "The men are wondering what they have achieved and how the situation here will change now."

Posted by Worldmeets.US

 

With chains dangling, a crane lifts a corrugated tin roof off of a generator. A soldier pushes and pulls until the roughly 10-square-meter roof lifts up. "We fought for this to protect it from the sun back in 2008," he recalls. At the time, no one back home could imagine just how unbearable the summer heat could be for this power source. It was a small victory, now erased. "It's a strange feeling, having to demolish something like this," says Captain Rainer Barth, who's on his fourth tour. "This is final. No one else will follow."

 

"For the soldiers who have been repeatedly deployed here, this is an emotional thing," says base commander Ralf Blasajewsky. Not for him, though. "For me, it's a job," says the lanky lieutenant colonel. "This is by far the biggest challenge of my life. I will be judged by whether I can make it work." He is aware that quite literally - he is writing military history. He is recording every step of the withdrawal, all the way up to the last day. "Perhaps, others will be able to avoid our mistakes."

 

Until Tuesday, the date of that last day was the best kept secret in Faizabad. The soldiers spoke reverently of "D-Day," a reference to the day Allied forces landed in Normandy. Except that D-Day in 1944 marked the beginning of the end of the war. Hardly anyone believes that to be the case in Afghanistan. Drug traffickers, Islamists, Tajiks and Uzbeks, some with private armies, are jostling for position for after the withdrawal of foreign troops. The Taliban, which are barely established in the region, could try to exploit the power vacuum. For over a year they have controlled an important road to Pakistan, about 50 kilometers southeast of Faizabad. Now, with the Germans gone, they'll likely want more.

 

Afghan police have little to counter this with. They lack ammunition and fuel. The first relief agencies have already withdrawn. Without German troops, this area is too dangerous for them. "We no longer have a hospital or a decent dispensary." says Gerhard Olde, the Foreign Aid Ministry's representative in the province. There are still more than a dozen German civilians in the region, but not for much longer, Olde believes. He considers the transfer of security responsibilities to the Afghans, something celebrated by Western politicians, to be a farce, something "invented to save face while exiting the country." He draws his own conclusions and leaves.

 

Even in the city of Faizabad, where a dozen years ago there was hardly a car on the road, skepticism is growing about what progress will remain once foreign troops have left. Ahmad Reshar sits on a plastic chair outside of his "office." For months, the security situation has been deteriorating, says the 27-year-old doctor. "Without the German troops, there will again be war."

 

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[Posted by Worldmeets.US Oct. 18, 7:31am]