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“Dreesch, darr rait on fair mekunam!”

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Sichten und Vernichten – sort of the equivalent to search and destroy – was a slogan in our training at the antitank squad, more than twenty years ago. It has since been replaced by some nicer wording.

Wolfgang Schneiderhan, the German Bundeswehr (i. e. military forces) top-ranking soldier, is quoted by German paper Die Tageszeitung (taz) that he can’t relieve the soldiers from the grey area where they have to do their own calculations. In either case, the loss of civil casualties had to be strictly avoided.

The Tageszeitung sharpens the statement:

A group of turban-headed people with Kalashnikovs may constitute an attack – or some typical Afghans on their way to herd some goats.

The debate is about what many see as a ban for German soldiers to aggressively protect themselves or their fellow soldiers. Every German soldier wears a pocket card of six pages stating this. Now, this line has been scrapped: “Use of lethal force is forbidden as long as no attack has happened or is immanent.” Some more edits are planned to simplify the soldiers’ lives. The federal parliament’s defence committee wasn’t informed about these changes.

If I was more than twenty years younger and faced the choice between military and the popular alternative civilian service once again, I’d obviously choose to walk a parson’s dog or to deliver meals on wheels for elderly ladies. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to test over a combat distance of 500 metres if the lads on the motorbikes are goatherds with big dildos strapped on their backs, or some friendly Taliban who want to blast me and my fellow soldiers to hell. And no, I wouldn’t care either if there’s a tank on its way, or a shooter on a motorcycle.

All in all, our trainers’ instructions twenty years back looks more realistic to me – and more decent. It is the command which is responsible for the soldiers – and it doesn’t matter that the political leadership still wants to sell the war in Afghanistan as an Oxfam campaign.

By the way: before you fire on an Afghan, no matter if he’s next to you or a mortar-shelling distance away, don’t forget to give the following notice: “Dreesch, darr rait on fair mekunam!” This – probably – means that you will soon open fire.

Very soon, but not necessarily in time.

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Written by taide

July 5, 2009 at 9:09 pm

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