Germany sending 'its best troops'
By CNN Berlin Bureau Chief Bettina Luscher
BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- German troops are getting ready to join the war against terror. It will be their widest-ranging military action since World War II. But just how good are they -- and what can they contribute?
"The Germans have sent the best they have," says defense analyst Heinz Schulte. "These are not run-of-the-mill troops, they are very specialized with specialized equipment."
The German equipment includes an armored vehicle with sensors that detect nuclear, biological and chemical weapons or material.
"What is important is not the vehicle, but its state-of-the-art equipment inside," says Schulte.
Then there are the KSK special forces commandoes, considered Germany's toughest fighters. Their specialty is hostage rescue, and they are trained in survival in extreme conditions in mountains and deserts.
Germany will provide about 100 soldiers to the war against terror, troops that Schulte says are as good as any U.S. or British forces. They will be available to relieve those forces already in Afghanistan.
But Schulte says you can only go to war with what you have, and critics -- including former defence minister Volker Ruehe -- say the German government has not done enough to upgrade its military.
"We need to develop our own capabilities," says Ruehe. "We started to do that in the early '90s, but now the government has not spent enough money on developing these German capabilities."
Ruehe says Germany should spend at least another $2 billion every year to prepare for the new challenges.
Experts say that the German contribution is important militarily. But more important, they say, is the political message it sends -- that Germany is willing to carry its share of the burden of the new war against terror.
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