According to the Bundeswehr, a total of 264 men and women were on board the three aircraft. This ends one of the longest and most dangerous missions for the German armed forces. The last German machine left Afghan airspace at 9.24 p.m. on Tuesday evening. Camp Marmal, once the largest Bundeswehr base outside Germany, had previously been cleared and handed over to the Afghan security forces. The soldiers were flown out of the field camp in Mazar-i-Sharif in the north of the country using military machines.
Commander praises soldiers on return
After an overnight stopover in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, the planes flew on towards Germany on Wednesday. In Wunstorf there was no major military ceremony after landing due to the corona pandemic. The order had been fulfilled in an outstanding way, said the commander of the operational command of the Bundeswehr, Lieutenant General Erich Pfeffer, at a return roll call. “They did not allow themselves to be put off by unclear situations, frequent changes in the framework conditions and frictions that occurred.”
Defense Commissioner calls for a critical balance sheet
The defense commissioner of the German Bundestag, Eva Högl (SPD), also thanked the soldiers and spoke of a “moving moment”. The deployment shaped the Bundeswehr. At the same time, she asked the Bundestag to take a critical and honest balance sheet. Germany should continue to get involved in Afghanistan, for example in the area of economic cooperation and development, in educational work or in the training of the security forces.
Defense Minister: “Historical Chapter”
Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had already paid tribute to the operation in Afghanistan on Tuesday. “After almost 20 years of service, the last soldiers in our Bundeswehr left Afghanistan tonight,” said the CDU politician. A historical chapter was coming to an end, an intensive mission that challenged and shaped the Bundeswehr and in which it had proven itself in combat.
Operation cost the lives of 59 soldiers
The Afghanistan mission, which began in January 2002, was one of the Bundeswehr’s most dangerous foreign missions to date. 59 German soldiers lost their lives in Afghanistan, 35 in attacks or in combat. The operation, which was originally intended to safeguard peace and then became a combat mission against the rebellious Taliban, cost more than twelve billion euros. Most recently, the core mission of the NATO force was the training of Afghan armed forces. Over the years, a total of around 150,000 German soldiers were temporarily stationed in the Hindu Kush.
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