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No beer left behind: Germany to evacuate its booze from Afghanistan

It's like Dunkirk, only the Germans are the good guys this time.
Jeff Schogol Avatar
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Schuhplattlers with the Denver Kickers demonstrate a German folk dance Oct. 13, 2018, at Iron Horse Park. (Photo by Devin Fisher)

With U.S. and all other foreign troops leaving Afghanistan, the German military has to deal with a very German problem: What to do with 65,000 cans of beer at its base in Mazar-e-Sharif?

The magazine Spiegel first reported that German service members in Afghanistan have accumulated enough alcoholic beverages for a typical Tuesday at an American fraternity house now that their commander has banned booze during the final state of the withdrawal.

In addition to the beer, the German army also has about 340 bottles of wine and sparkling wine that its troops in Afghanistan are not allowed to consume before they leave the country, according to Deutsche Welle, a German news website.

The German military decided to hire a civilian contractor to haul the fermented freight back to the land of hops and grain because destroying the booze would damage the environment and local Afghans are not allowed to drink alcohol, the Associated Press reported. 

A German military spokesman told Task & Purpose that he could not say how long it will take for the civilian contractor to haul all of the alcohol back to Germany.

For U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the withdrawal is about halfway complete, Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., head of U.S. Central Command, told reporters on Monday.

“We will meet the September deadline to complete the full withdrawal from Afghanistan,” said McKenzie, who declined to provide any specific information about how many U.S. troops are currently in the country.

While German troops are allowed to drink two cans of beer a day, General Order Number 1D paragraph 2a(1) prohibits U.S. service members in Afghanistan and Iraq from drinking alcohol under most circumstances, according to CENTCOM.

Ironically, beer is believed to have originated in the Middle East, specifically from ancient Mesopotamia. The Babylonians were known to appreciate a good brew.

A bit later, beer came to Germany, where Weihenstephan Abbey in Bavaria claims to be the oldest continuously operating brewery in the world. In fact, the Bavarians refer to beer as “liquid bread.”

The Bavarians also gave the world Oktoberfest, a celebration of getting inebriated to the point of unconsciousness, which normally begins in September, not October. (It’s canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Finally, the Americans made a significant contribution to the beer culture by inventing “beer pong,” a game that may have originated on the country’s college campuses, which remain cathedrals to binge drinking to this day.

Beer is also a popular beverage among American troops, as evidenced by the fact that during a 2018 NATO exercise in Iceland, U.S. soldiers and Marines emptied local beer supplies in Reykjavík.

It is highly unlikely that there would be any beer left in Afghanistan, and therefore no need to haul it away, if American troops were simply allowed to drink.

Featured image: Schuhplattlers with the Denver Kickers demonstrate a German folk dance Oct. 13, 2018, at Fort Carson, Colorado.(Photo by Devin Fisher)