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German forces now ordering airstrikes

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Der Spiegel Online has a very interesting piece on the German army's new found enthusiasm for air strikes and armed drones:

It was a summer's day in June 2009 when the German army in Afghanistan first used U.S. Army drones in combat. With hindsight, some observers say that was the day the German military lost its innocence in Afghanistan. The firing of deadly rockets from drones on the orders of a German commander was part of the new reality of war in northern Afghanistan.

Before that the Germans had only used U.S. drones, lent out to them by the U.S. military as part of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, to observe Taliban movements. They didn't take advantage of the drones' deadly Hellfire rockets. But on June 15 last year, Colonel Georg Klein pushed the red button for the first time. Seconds later, a booby trap that had been detected on the side of a road was destroyed.

Klein went on to order a deeply controversial air strike on two hijacked fuel tankers on Sept. 4, 2009...

Since last June, the use of the unmanned aircraft has become routine to the Germans, in a similar fashion to their use of air support... (link)

The report indicates a pretty high degree of escalation of German involvement in the war -- a very touchy issue in that country where a strong majority disapprove of the war. I don't know of any reports at all of Canadian troops actually calling in an air strike and neither have I seen anyone asserting the the CF use armed drones. This might be due to rules for journalists which forbid reporting on such things, or it could be that Canadian forces don't call in air strikes or use armed drones.

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