Ecumenical News International

Military bishop sees no end to mission in Afghanistan

April 29, 2016

Mainz (epd). Protestant military bishop Sigurd Rink considers the stabilization of Afghanistan to be a "project for generations". If all western soldiers had withdrawn after the expiry of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission the central government would have collapsed, he told members of the German Atlantic Society in Mainz. "Two or three years later the regional warlords would have taken over the country again." When the military mission began over 14 years ago, no one thought that the troops would stay in Afghanistan so long, he commented.

Rink also reported that his planned visit to the federal armed forces in Afghanistan had been cancelled because of the precarious security situation. Providing protection for visitors was such an enormous effort that at present only the most necessary business trips to Afghanistan were taking place.

No missions without an overall plan

Rink, who is the first full-time military bishop of the Evangelical Church in Germany, referred to the enormous strain to which German soldiers were exposed when engaged in missions abroad. Policy-makers should constantly ask whether it was responsible to send them on missions for which there was no support in society.

Rink came out against any involvement in armed conflict without an overall plan for resolving a conflict, as was shown by the example of Libya. "Intervening in a country from outside is completely pointless if you then leave the country to itself." But waiting too long could also have fatal consequences, he warned. Regarding the civil war in Syria, in the bishop's view, early military intervention against the government of President Bashar al-Assad would have been the right course of action.
Even after the end of the ISAF mission, just under 1000 German soldiers are still in Afghanistan as part of the follow-up mission "Resolute Support". In this country with its ongoing civil war, the Germans are responsible for advising, training and supporting Afghani security forces and military personnel. 55 German soldiers have lost their lives since 2002, with 35 of them having been killed in fighting or terror attacks.

29 April 2016




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