Armed Forces Commissioner calls for honors for Airlift soldiers from Kabul

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Mon 6th Sep, 2021

The Bundestag's defense commissioner, Eva Högl, has called for the Bundeswehr soldiers involved in the evacuation mission in Kabul to be honored. "The soldiers must definitely be honored," the SPD politician told the newspapers of the Editorial Network Company. She said she had lobbied Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) to honor the soldiers personally - "for example, with a cross of honor or a deployment medal."

"We can be very proud of what was accomplished," Högl said, referring to the dramatic rescue mission in which foreigners and local Afghan forces were flown out of Kabul after the radical Islamic Taliban took power in mid-August. He said the Bundeswehr aircraft rescued more than 5,000 people. "That is a top performance." In general, he said, the servicemen and women have "given their all" in Afghanistan over the past nearly 20 years. They bear no blame for what didn't work."

With its A400M transport aircraft, the Bundeswehr had flown 37 flights to bring more than 5,300 people to safety over the course of the nearly two-week mission, according to the Defense Ministry. Among them were about 500 German citizens, about 4000 Afghans and other people from a total of 45 nations. Paratroopers, soldiers from the Special Forces Command (KSK), military police, crisis support teams, medics, military police and members of the air force were involved in the operation.

Högl stressed that the deployment underscored the need for the KSK, which has recently fallen into disrepute because of right-wing extremist incidents. "I am very glad that we have the KSK," she said. During the evacuation mission, she said, many realized how important the unit was. "The skills these men and women have, we need them," she said. It's good that everyone has seen that now, she said. "It has given the unit a moral boost," she continued.

Finally, she also praised the Afghan Local Forces Sponsorship Network and its chairman Marcus Grotian. "The commitment of Marcus Grotian and the others in the sponsorship network is outstanding," Högl told the newspapers. In the future, local forces at other Bundeswehr deployment locations could also benefit from their work on behalf of the Bundeswehr's Afghan supporters: Högl suggested that other deployments should also examine "which local forces need our support if the situation changes."

Meanwhile, German Development Minister Gerd Müller (CSU) said future aid deliveries by the German government to Afghanistan should be handled by a World Health Organization (WHO) airlift. "We have not forgotten the people of Afghanistan. And that is why I have discussed with WHO President Tedros that we support the WHO's planned airlift to supply hospitals with medicines and vaccines," Müller told the newspaper Rheinische Post.

Likewise, he said, the German government is increasing its support for the United Nations World Food Program, UNICEF and experienced non-governmental organizations such as German Agro Action and Doctors Without Borders to prevent a famine catastrophe. These funds would be implemented directly via the aid organizations and would thus directly benefit the suffering population.

Photo by Diego Gonzalez


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