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July 31, 2014
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Current Concerns  >  2007  >  No 16, 2007  >  Swiss Army Withdraws From Afghanistan [printversion]

Swiss Army Withdraws From Afghanistan

The head of the Swiss Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sport (VBS), Federal Counselor Samuel Schmid, informed the Federal Council today that Switzerland will terminate its military commitment in Afghanistan on 1 March 2008.
This decision is based on situational changes and the nature of the deployment of the International Security and Assistance Force in Afghanistan (Isaf) since the decision was taken four years ago. The peacekeeping support operation in the southern part of Afghanistan has gradually transformed into an operation fighting the insurgents. Even in areas where only a few isolated insurgents are active, necessary self-protective measures of the troops make it nearly impossible to carry out the order. In areas, where the Taliban regain strength, reconstruction work has become largely impossible. In general, the emphasis of the Isaf is increasingly with the build-up of the Afghan army.
The use of maximally four staff officers in the Isaf was approved by the parliament in the summer session 2003. The UN resolution 1386 from 20 December 2001 established the legal basis, later it was supplemented by the UN resolution 1510 from 13 October 2003, in which the mandate was expanded onto areas outside Kabul. The Isaf’s essential assignment was to secure the reconstruction of the country. The UN resolution 1776 from 19 September 2007 extended the Isaf mandate by 13 October 2008.
Since February 2004, two to four Swiss staff officers are in the Isaf. Currently two Swiss staff officers are in Kunduz deployed to support the German Provincial Reconstruction Team. The work of the Swiss officers and the Swiss reconnaissance troops are appreciated very much by all participants, above all by their German partners. In addition, Switzerland profits from the exchange of experience and information within NATO, which is reserved to member states only.

Source: VBS Press Release of 21 November 2007
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thk. The decision taken by the Swiss Government to call back the two officers on service in Afghanistan is only too welcome and meets with wide support by professionals and the Swiss population. It was justified by the explanation that the peace keeping mission has been turned into a peace enforcing mission, which is reflected in the actual development in Afghanistan. Since 2001 there is a war raging in the country and only very few people know how it came about.
On 2 October 2001, three weeks after the attack on the World Trade Center the NATO, based on article 5 declared  the case of the alliance for the first time in its history. After that the war against Afghanistan was a done deal. The USA accused Afghanistan to host Usama Bin Laden. The USA though failing to produce any evidence declared Bin Laden to be the string puller behind the 11 September attacks and requested his extradition. When the Afghan government did not comply but suggested his extradition to Den Haag the USA together with Great Britain began their military Operation Enduring Freedon (OEF) without being mandated by the UN. Since evidence is increasing – and serious examinations are bringing more and more facts to light pointing to the implausibility of the US government explanations about the 9/11 attacks towards the public –, there is no justification for a military intervention left whatsoever. Even former Italian President Francesco Cossiga was recently cited in “Corriere de la Sera” with a statement that all the world’s intelligence agencies knew and know today that the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center had been staged by American and Middle East secret services.
On 20 December 2001 the Security Council passed the Resolution 1386 in which the ISAF mission led by the NATO was mandated. This was no blue helmet mission but a robust mandate including combat operations from the very beginning. When ISAF began its mission the USA and Great Britain would have had to end the Operation Enduring Freedom. Since they did not, both operations still exist side by side today and there is no difference between them neither with respect to military equipment nor to personnel. The largest allocations to ISAF were deployed by Great Britain and the USA, and it is commanded by the NATO, so there is no difference between the peace keeping and peace enforcing deployment. Of course it can be doubted whether there has ever been any difference, since a robust mandate always includes combat operations. Every day civilians are killed and there is hardly any reconstruction to be found. So withdrawing the officers, as Bundesrat Schmidt decided, was the right thing to do. This decision was not an easy one which is reflected by the reactions of NATO member states and the media. The former are afraid that more states might follow this example, which would be received with cheers.
In this awful situation there is only one thing to do: all troops have to leave the country as fast as possible and have to make way for a genuine civil commitment. That is the only way to have peace in this country.