(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – A third of people in Germany want their country’s troops serving in Afghanistan to be withdrawn immediately, according to a poll by Forsa released by Stern and RTL. 32 per cent of respondents share this view.

On the other hand, 24 per cent of respondents want German soldiers in Afghanistan to return by the end of 2011, 14 per cent would leave them stationed there until 2015, and 25 per cent say they should stay as long as it is necessary.

Afghanistan has been the main battleground in the war on terrorism. The conflict began in October 2001, after the Taliban regime refused to hand over Osama bin Laden without evidence of his participation in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Al-Qaeda operatives hijacked and crashed four airplanes on Sept. 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people.

At least 1,592 soldiers—including 31 Germans—have died in the conflict, either in support of the United States-led Operation Enduring Freedom or as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

On Nov. 26, Wolfgang Schneiderhan, the German army’s chief of staff, tendered his resignation after it became known that more than 30 Afghan civilians died in a botched air strike involving German soldiers. German defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said that Schneiderhan had "released himself from his duties at his own request."

On Dec. 3, German lawmakers approved the extension of the military mission in Afghanistan for one more year.

On Jan. 26, the German government announced it will send an additional 500 troops to Afghanistan and increase its civilian aid as a way to prepare for the eventual withdrawal. German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle declared: "We want to start a gradual handover in the course of this year, and in 2011 we want to start reducing our own contingent. We aim to achieve the handover to Afghan forces in 2014."

Polling Data

When do you think Germany’s military deployment in Afghanistan should end?



By the end of 2011


In 2015


It should continue as long as necessary


Source: Forsa / Stern / RTL
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,002 German adults, conducted on Jan. 20 and Jan. 21, 2010. Margin of error is 2.5 per cent.