Germany in talks to give jets to anti-ISIL campaign, says top German soldier

Germany in talks to give jets to anti-ISIL campaign, says top German soldier

Germany in talks to give jets to anti-ISIL campaign, says top German soldier

Picture taken on June 22, 2010 shows a "Tornado" fighter bomber of the German armed forces Bundeswehr during an exercise near Messstetten, southern Germany. AFP Photo

Germany is holding talks with Turkey and Jordan over the deployment of German Tornado reconnaissance jets in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Germany’s top soldier has said. 

German Army Chief of Staff Volker Wieker told German daily Bild am Sonntag in an interview that his country was holding talks with Turkey and Jordan on where the four to six Tornado reconnaissance jets would be deployed. 

“We are currently holding talks with Turkey and Jordan for the İncirlik and Amman airbases over the [deployment of reconnaissance jets],” said Wieker. The İncirlik Airbase is located in the southern province of Adana. Turkey agreed in July to open the air base to U.S. drones and fighter jets as part of an agreement for the two countries to work more closely together against ISIL.

Wieker said a total of around 1,200 German soldiers would be sent to the region along with the reconnaissance jets, a frigate and a refueling aircraft, which would all be without any ammunition, to be deployed to combat ISIL. 

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Nov. 27 that Germany would join the military campaign against ISIL in Syria by deploying Tornado reconnaissance jets, refueling aircraft and a frigate to the region, after a direct appeal from close partner France for Berlin to do more. 

“Today the government took difficult but important and necessary decisions,” von der Leyen told reporters after meeting with lawmakers. “We are standing with France, which was hit by these inhuman attacks from ISIL.”

The decision to commit military personnel and hardware is a shift for Germany, which has resisted such direct involvement in the conflict. It still has no plans to join France, the United States and Russia in conducting air strikes in Syria.

In accordance with this policy, Wieker said the U.S.-led coalition already had many vehicles and enough power to bomb ISIL, and therefore Germany’s reconnaissance jets would contribute very much to the effort of defining what is going on in the region. 

Wieker added that a mandate from the German parliament, the Bundestag, was needed for the deployment of these vehicles and once the mandate came out, they could “quickly” deploy them. 

The validation of the mandate will also be defined by lawmakers, Wieker said. 

If Germany deploys a total of 1,200 soldiers, the reconnaissance jets, a refueling aircraft and a frigate, it will be the country’s biggest overseas mission.