EThe Bundeswehr has not yet received such an honor. At the Bendlerblock and in front of the Reichstag, the highest representatives of the German state paid respect and recognition to the veterans of the Afghanistan mission for their difficult and dangerous service. They remembered the 59 soldiers who fell or had an accident in the Hindu Kush. Up until the Great Zapfenstreich, the republic offered everything it had at its disposal in terms of military ceremonies.
Less would have been too little. German politics had some catching up to do when it comes to honoring the men and women who were sent to an operation for which neither the army nor its employers in parliament and government were adequately prepared.
The most important lesson is obvious
The speeches of the Defense Minister and the Federal President did not evade appropriate self-criticism. The in-depth discussion of the Afghanistan mission will not begin until the new Bundestag has been constituted. The central conclusion that can be drawn from the mixed balance of the engagement in Afghanistan has been obvious for years: the “parliamentary army” must never again be sent on a mission in which they use their blood for the vagueness of the mandate and inconsistency, if not to say: the cowardice of the political decision-makers has to atone for it. Because nobody in Berlin wanted to talk about a war, the troops have not been adequately equipped for a long time for the war into which they were increasingly drawn.
In the future, too, it cannot be ruled out that the government and parliament will have to resort to military means to protect German interests. However, the goals must be defined more clearly and realistically than before. The troops need clear mandates and equipment with which the assignment can be carried out. These lessons must always be taken to heart in future when Germany sends soldiers on a mission. We owe it to those who lost their lives in the Hindu Kush.