I.Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) has ended the involvement of the German police in Afghanistan. It was “not a patrol trip”, but “brave service (…) far from home”, he said in a statement of just a few lines in a press release last week. Hundreds of German officials have tried in Afghanistan over the past 19 years to set up a police force that feels bound by the law. Seehofer himself never visited the German contingent during his tenure. The departure took place immediately. Almost two decades of police building ended with the German instructors fleeing home.
Service in Kabul and the northern provinces has long been an extremely difficult mission. Men and women who took part in the mission out of a sense of duty and solidarity for the country marked by decades of war, came from all over Germany. In addition to many federal police officers, there were individual helpers from all federal states who interrupted their normal service for months in order to build a new state in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban.
Looking away while growing drugs
Unlike most soldiers, the police did not initially live in high-security camps, but in Kabul, next door to their Afghan neighbors. The plans initially envisaged the establishment of a traffic and criminal police based on the western model. When the first Germans arrived in 2002, the Kabul police consisted only of a few older sergeants and trained fighters from the Northern Alliance. In a report from the former Green Party MP Winfried Nachtwei, there was talk of 10,000 police officers who had ten cars, no radios, hardly any uniforms and, as a rule, no weapons. If one of the 44 city districts wanted to contact another, a bicycle courier was sent out, according to Nachtwei.
The establishment of the security authorities was part of the peace process. Germany took over the development of the Afghan police. In 2003, the then Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) personally handed over patrol cars, police motorcycles and luminous vests to his Afghan colleague. The Federal Criminal Police Office put together so-called “crime scene suitcases” with which traces should be professionally secured. The red-green government absolutely wanted to contribute to the Americans’ fight against terrorism. And it should lead to a better, ideally democratic society in which men and women also have equal rights. Photos from that period often show uniformed women who made up 0.17 percent of the Afghan police force in 2006. It only grew slowly.
The German involvement ranged from the training of patrol officers to the “Sunshine day care center” in order to improve the compatibility of family and police work. In 2014 a television series was financed, “Commissioner Amanullah”, which was supposed to show the domestic audience the “change of the Afghan police towards a civil organization”, as stated in a brochure by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (FDP) and Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) was called. The successor governments of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) stuck to this concept, even if the Americans thought little of it. In these days, at the end of the engagement, the minister’s preliminary résumé is just under a printed page.
#Afghanistan #abrupt #German #police #mission