NAfter the Bundeswehr’s largest rescue operation in Afghanistan, the paratroopers of Airborne Brigade 1 and several hundred other soldiers are expected back in Germany on Friday. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) and General Inspector Eberhard Zorn flew to Uzbekistan on Thursday evening immediately after the end of the risky mission to thank the soldiers. They had “brought as many people as possible to safety under the most difficult conditions on site”.
The danger of the operation was shown on Thursday evening in a terrorist attack at the airport, in which, according to the British Ministry of Health, more than 90 people were killed and over 150 injured. Among the dead are at least 13 United States soldiers who tried to save people at the access. In total, the United States and its allies have flown more than 100,000 people out of Afghanistan since August 14 and the Taliban came to power.
Two paramedics stayed behind for the time being
The German soldiers, like other nations, were supposed to withdraw on Thursday as planned. This meant that the airfield should be evacuated step by step by next Tuesday under American direction. While the last military transporters were being loaded, the bombs of the suicide bombers exploded in front of the airport. Thereupon the German commander on site, Brigadier General Jens Arlt, ordered the emergency withdrawal. Two paramedics initially stayed behind, but were picked up a little later by an Air Force plane. All soldiers of the German contingent landed safely in Tashkent by evening.
With the German planes, which have brought more than 5,300 people to safety from the Taliban from Kabul in the past eleven days, the soldiers are supposed to land around 4 p.m. in Wunstorf, Lower Saxony, where Air Transport Wing 62 is based. The airlift between Kabul and Tashkent had been in operation with the squadron’s A400M military transporters since Monday the week before last.
More than a thousand German citizens and nationals of other countries were flown out through them, as well as over 4,000 Afghans. Above all, people who had worked as local helpers for the Bundeswehr, German police and development aid organizations were brought to safety. But politicians, human rights activists and journalists were also flown out.
Most of the around 200 men and women deployed by the Bundeswehr come from the 31 parachute regiment in Seedorf, Lower Saxony. It belongs to Airborne Brigade 1, in which all paratrooper units of the army are bundled. Like the Special Forces Command (KSK), which is also deployed in Kabul, it belongs to the Rapid Forces Division (DSK). The soldiers deployed were reinforced by medical personnel, military police, paramedics and logistical helpers who made the deployment possible in Kabul and Tashkent.
In addition to the Minister and General Inspector, MPs from the German Bundestag and the Armed Forces Commissioner Eva Högl are expected to greet them in Wunstorf in the evening. A few weeks ago, when the last regular contingent of the twenty-year Afghanistan mission returned, none of the above had been, which aroused strong criticism.
In the meantime, nine federal police officers have arrived in Germany, who were part of the evacuation mission to the last and together with the soldiers in Kabul at the airport. As the Federal Ministry of the Interior announced, they landed in Berlin at 9:15 am, where they were greeted “by the management of the Ministry” with thanks and expressions of respect.