Germany votes in October will determine whether to continue to extend two of three operations in Afghanistan serving in NATO's International Security Assistance Force. Germany, supposedly a "lead nation" in the NATO mission, has taken a "leisurely" approach to efforts in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, involvement in the war is losing popularity in Germany, troops are under siege rather than in control of the country, the mission's goals are being rethought, and German attempts at police training for Afghanis have not gone well.
Italian Brigadier General Fausto Macor is the ideal star witness to make the situation in Afghanistan dramatically clear to German politicians. The wiry general from the northern Italian city of Turin has been in charge of the Regional Command West of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan since July. He and his men are deployed in what is considered the quietest and safest part of the country.
Macor and his men are barricaded into an area near the airport in Herat, an old trading city of 250,000 inhabitants that has long served as a gateway to nearby Iran. Heavily armed Albanian soldiers guard the entrance to the camp, which is protected against enemy fire by a 1-meter-thick wall of boulders.
On Tuesday of last week, the general met with Eckart von Klaeden, the foreign policy spokesman of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Von Klaeden had traveled to the city with the German ambassador to Afghanistan, Hans-Ulrich Seidt.
The general is slightly delayed, having attended a memorial service for two Spanish soldiers who were killed the day before in a bomb attack 80 kilometers (50 miles) to the south. The service was broadcast live on Italian television to a distressed nation. NATO troops have just liberated two kidnapped Italian intelligence officers from Macor's contingent. One of the Italians suffered serious injuries during the raid.