BONN — The German parliament on Dec. 14 voted to send soldiers and two Patriot air defense units that fire PAC-3 type missiles to Turkey. Operated as a purely defensive measure to strengthen the integrated air defense of the NATO alliance, the German government can now deploy up to 400 soldiers. The mission is to start at the beginning of 2013.
The Bundestag approved the proposal by a 461-86 vote, while eight abstained. The current mandate is limited until Jan. 31, 2014.
In addition to the staff of the Patriot units, the deployment will include soldiers who are assigned to airspace reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities, such as the NATO AWACS system. Like the U.S. and Dutch units, the German contingent will be under the command of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe. However, German missiles are not to violate Syrian airspace.
On the same day in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, the first two German Tiger combat helicopters arrived at Camp Marmal. They were deployed on Dec. 13 onboard an Antonov 124 cargo plane from Germany. Shortly before Christmas, two more Tigers will follow to complete the detachment of the German Army’s attack helicopter regiment to the Hindukush.
Six pilots and about 60 soldiers had already been deployed at the beginning of the month. Starting in February 2013, the German combat helicopters are supposed to be operational. They will be used for support, security and surveillance tasks.
Also in the spring of 2013, Germany plans to deploy four NH90 transport helicopters to Afghanistan, primarily for medical evacuation.
In March 2013, German forces in Afghanistan also will receive new protected four-wheel-drive logistic trucks. On Dec. 6, Mercedes-Benz handed over the Zetros 833A four-wheel-drive GTF (geschütztes Transportfahrzeug) to the Bundeswehr.
They will receive 110 vehicles by 2014. With a weight of 19.5 tons, the 8.8-meter-long trucks can carry up to 5 tons in military cargo. The cabin protects against small arms fire, artillery fragments, as well as mine and IED blasts. It has a ventilation system to protect against nuclear, biological and chemical threats, and will be equipped with a remote-controlled weapon station.