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Gertz (Bundeswehr): We didn't come to help people

(B2)The President of the Bundeswehr Federation, Colonel Bernhard Gertz, did not pull any punches, during his last press conference, on the policy pursued by his government in Afghanistan (Nb: The soldier leaves his functions and he could perhaps express his thoughts more easily than ever). What he says in a word, according to our colleague Thomas Wigold : the federal government (German) bears “some responsibility” for the worsening security situation in Afghanistan. And when he talks about the German government, we could address – I think – the same criticism to a number of Western governments and also to the European Union.

Low civil commitment. Firstly, he cites the poor German performance in training the Afghan police. Displayed as a priority, it has not progressed, given the expenses and the low number of German police officers (and the EU does not seem in a better situation, the first objective of recruiting around 200 people for the training of the policy has not been reached, see the recruitment difficulties). Then, everyone emphasizes that the priority in Afghanistan is not only military. So – he explains – the Bundestag (assembly of deputies) should not only reflect on the number, functions and cost of the military engaged but also on the means and civilian personnel (foreign affairs, interior or development, etc.).

The initial strategic error. Gertz especially underlines this initial misunderstanding which lasts, and disrupts, the entire Western strategy in Afghanistan: “Honestly, we did not go to this country, because we wanted to help people, but above all, to control the risk of terrorism for The Western world. But I fear – he adds – that in the meantime we will realize that this dual approach was not really good”.


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).