Germans in Afghanistan

Leading From the Front

Today's Taliban attack on Afghanistan's parliament building is a reminder that General Kay Brinkmann has his work cut out.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany has for many years shied away from involvement in international peace-keeping but last year changed its policy and now wants to play a much larger role.

  • Facts


    • The United Nations Assistance Mission Afghanistan aims to bring peace and stability to the country.
    • Its unarmed military advisory unit plays a bridging role between international forces and civilians.
    • General Kay Brinkmann and Lieutenant Colonel Karl-Rüdiger Tillmann have headed the unit since July 2014.
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Dust lies everywhere over the Afghan capital. It irritates the eyes, settles in the lungs. No one escapes the dirt of Kabul.

Every gust of wind blows it in through the doors, including the one belonging to General Kay Brinkmann, a senior military adviser and head of the military advisory unit for the United Nations Assistance Mission Afghanistan.

As the U.N.’s largest special political mission, it aims to lay the foundations for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. Gen. Brinkmann acts as a bridge between the international military presence in the country and the civilian government and people it represents. He is the first German general to hold the posts.

If the dust is a constant, the potential enemies — radical Taliban fighters, extremists, suicide bombers and criminals — are generally an abstraction, even though they remain a constant in countless conversations and reports.

But frequent violent attacks in Kabul, such as the one on the Afghan Parliament building today, are a reminder of the constant threat in the city.

It’s Gen. Brinkmann’s job to analyze the security situation. He’s part of a 1,500 contingent of UNAMA workers, which includes 350 international advisers, and has been in Afghanistan since July 2014.

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