“Desires of the soldiers” – Minister defends absence on return to Afghanistan
The defense minister justified the absence of the federal government when the last soldiers returned from Afghanistan. The decision was made at the request of the soldiers and agreed with the military leadership.
VDefense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer takes a stand against criticism after she did not personally meet the last Bundeswehr soldiers returning home from Afghanistan in Germany last week. The decision to arrive in silence was made at the express request of the soldiers, the minister said in a letter to the CDU member of the Bundestag Kerstin Vieregge, which the Reuters news agency received on Monday.
“The attitude was clear: the soldiers wanted to go home to their families as quickly as possible. The request of the contingent is absolutely understandable, as many of them were separated from their families longer than usual, ”said Kramp-Karrenbauer. The absence of Chancellor Angela Merkel was justified by a government spokeswoman. Kramp-Karrenbauer also referred to the 14-day isolation required due to the corona pandemic and the extended deployment time with a view to the withdrawal.
The Defense Minister was on a visit to the USA when the last German soldiers arrived in Germany on Wednesday after almost 20 years of service with the Bundeswehr in the Hindu Kush. The minister wrote that the wishes of the troops had been sounded out in advance in talks with the German commander in Afghanistan, General Ansgar Meyer, the battalion commanders and the operational command. Together with General Inspector Eberhard Zorn, she decided to respect the soldiers’ wishes. The procedure was also agreed with the Defense Committee of the Bundestag.
Soldiers are to be honored at the end of August
It was agreed to honor the soldiers and civilian employees of all contingents of the past two decades in Afghanistan with a central closing roll call in the presence of the Federal President, the Federal Chancellor and the President of the Bundestag in the Ministry of Defense.
“On this day, the brave commitment and special thanks to our men and women will be the center of attention, solemnly and on a grand scale,” wrote the minister. “I very much regret that this jointly agreed procedure also led to critical voices. In the foreground, however, was the desire of the troops to return home quickly. “
The withdrawal of international NATO troops from Afghanistan began at the beginning of May. The US troop withdrawal should be completed by the end of August. The last remaining German soldiers of the NATO mission “Resolute Support” returned to Germany last week.
The Bundeswehr has thus ended its mission in Afghanistan, which began almost 20 years ago. The fact that the soldiers were not received by the Federal President, the Chancellor or the Defense Minister on their arrival had triggered criticism.