KABUL, Afghanistan—In a surprise move in mid-April, Germany announced it is ready to provide between 600 and 800 troops to the as yet undefined NATO training contingent that will replace the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan after it comes to an end in 2014. It was the first such announcement by any country, including the United States. Washington is in the process of negotiating with Kabul the bilateral strategic agreement that should lay out the framework for a reduced but continued presence of American troops starting in 2015.
Germany’s attempt to pull ahead of the pack is even more notable given Europe’s current climate of budgetary austerity. Voters across the euro zone, albeit less in Germany than elsewhere, are suffering from the economic crisis and are generally disinclined toward overseas military missions and foreign aid. After being elected in 2012, French President Francois Hollande immediately proceeded to withdraw all of his country’s combat troops from Afghanistan, more than two years ahead of schedule. ...
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