Bonn, 13 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - The lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag, gave the final go-ahead today for German soldiers to join a new NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia.
This marks the first time in the post-World War II era that German combat troops will take full part in a ground mission alongside the Western allies.
With a large part of the parliamentary opposition also in favor, the Bundestag voted by 499 votes to 93, with 21 abstentions, to send some 3,000 German troops to join the Stabilization Force (SFOR), as it is called. The deployment is for 18 months.
Previously, Bonn had about 4,000 troops assigned to the NATO-led IFOR mission in Bosnia, whose mandate is now expiring. But the German troops were limited to logistical support tasks and they were based in Croatia, not in Bosnia itself.
The new German contingent will for the first time include
infantry and armoured-vehicle-based reconnaissance forces, ready
and equipped to face combat situations.