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Friday, October 8, 1999 Published at 08:58 GMT 09:58 UK

World: Europe

Nato role boosts Germany's profile

Europe has provided most of the troops on the ground

By Defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus

The appointment of German General Klaus Reinhardt to take over command of the Nato-led K-For peacekeeping force in Kosovo once again emphasises Europe's role within K-For and marks a significant increase in Germany's overseas military profile.

[ image: General Reinhardt is the first German officer to command a Nato mission abroad]
General Reinhardt is the first German officer to command a Nato mission abroad
The United States may have contributed the lions' share of the air power to the Kosovo campaign but it is the Europeans who have come up with the bulk of the troops on the ground.

Britain commands the only rapidly deployable corps headquarters in Nato so it was the obvious choice to lead K-For into what could have been full-scale combat.

But now that the peace force is established, General Sir Mike Jackson is handing over to another European officer.

Kosovo: Special Report
There have been German troops in K-For from the outset, with their deployment marking yet another step in the normalisation of German foreign policy.

The country's reluctance to commit troops abroad, given the memories of the World War II, is slowly diminishing.

But this is the first time that a German officer has commanded a Nato mission abroad.

Alliance alarmed by cut-backs

General Reinhardt, who joined the German Army in 1960, has had a similar career to high-flyers in most other Nato armies - a succession of senior commands interspersed with staff appointments both in Germany and in Nato.

His new job marks a significant first for Germany within Nato. German aircraft flew missions against Yugoslav air defences during the Kosovo campaign, and a German officer even served as Nato's main military spokesman during the conflict.

But what worries some Nato governments is Germany's proposed defence spending cut-backs. They are delighted by the German government's higher military profile within the alliance but alarmed that its cut-backs may weaken its potential contribution to future operations.

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