Until recently the Germans called Kunduz in the northeast of Afghanistan a spa (“Bad Kunduz”). The war was not called a war and partying in the camp common. Much has changed after two petrol road tankers had been hijacked by Taliban insurgents in Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. It was Thursday September 3, a weekend, and German Colonel Georg Klein and his staff sergeant (code name “Red Baron”) had ordered American F15 Strike Eagles to bombard the fuel tankers which had got stuck in a sand bank of the Kunduz River. They dropped two 500 lb bombs and up to 142 people, including some 30 civilians, died in an inferno.
What has been always very disturbing was that the Sergeant had actually been asked by the pilots (code names “Dudes 15 and 16”) whether a “show of force” would be sufficient and whether the individuals seen in the vicinity of the fuel tanks comprised an “imminent threat.” The negative responses given by the “Red Baron”, however, led to the release of the two bombs at 1.50 am local time, Friday morning. A pretty graphic, so far classified, movie made by the pilots and showing the situation on the sand bank with numerous people around the fuel tanks and the subsequent blast had been published today by German leading tabloid BILD. It was also reported that severely injured minors had been transported to local hospitals.
Despite having immediately known about civilian casualties, former German Secretary of Defense Franz Josef Jung had insisted for several days months after the disaster that only Taliban had been killed and the call for the bombers justified. His successor in office, Baron Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has fired today German Army’s Chief of Staff General Wolfgang Schneiderhan and Under-Secretary of State Peter Wichert.
Thus, pawns are being sacrificed, but Jung, who is presently Secretary of Labor in Angela Merkel’s new Cabinet, will certainly be dismissed soon as well, while his Colonel Klein is probably facing a lawsuit.
See also on this blog: Mobile Phone? about communication skills of ISAF troops when educating locals in Afghanistan.