Germany will withdraw 100 soldiers from Afghanistan by the end of the month, German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière told the DAPD press agency in an interview. This is part of a step-by-step reduction in German troops in the war-torn country over the next two years.
Thomas de Maizière on a recent visit to Afghanistan (photo: Bundeswehr/Schmidt)
On 26 January, the Bundestag, the German parliament, will vote on a new mandate for the Bundeswehr's participation in the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. For the first time since they were deployed to Afghanistan 10 years ago, the ceiling on German troops in the country will be reduced from 5,350 to 4,900 as a first step and in further steps to 4,400 by the end of January 2013 as long as the situation allows this and without endangering their safety or the sustainability of the handover process to the Afghan national security forces, according to the German Ministry of Defense.
De Maizière said the withdrawal must be coordinated with NATO allies and take into account the shift of ISAF's lines of communication, which are used not only for supplies but also for withdrawing troops, from Pakistan to northern Afghanistan due to Islamabad's continued blocking of the supply route through Pakistan.