Germany has changed its ROE (Rules of Engagement) for its troops in Afghanistan. While the 3,400 German troops in Afghanistan have not been allowed to go looking for a fight, they were increasingly getting attacked by the Taliban, or whoever the bad guy is where the German troops are. That was because the Afghans were becoming aware of the German ROE, and taking advantage of it. But with five German soldiers killed in Afghanistan so far this year, compared to three for all of last year, the ROE was changed. German soldiers may now attack hostile forces, without waiting to be fired on first. The previous ROE also stipulated that German troops had to let the enemy go if the German troops were no longer being fired on.
While many Germans oppose the presence of their troops in Afghanistan, the restrictive ROEs had become a growing embarrassment. The thousands of German soldiers who had served in Afghanistan continued to complain about that when they returned home. And then there the growing number of soldiers coming back suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Last year, 245 German soldiers, who had served in war zones (including Afghanistan), were classified as PTSD casualties. The year before, there were only 83 PTSD casualties. This causes stress. Just the thought of it can be stressful. In the last three years, some 62,000 German troops have been stationed in combat (or peacekeeping) zones, where they can be exposed to traumatic events.
The actual wording of the new ROE isn't that different, in order to make the changes more politically palatable at home. But the commanders in Afghanistan have been told that they can do whatever they need to do to accomplish their peacekeeping mission, and safeguard their own troops. That no longer includes trying to avoid contact with the enemy.