NATO AWACS for Afghan Duty?

At the request of its commanders in Afghanistan, NATO is considering sending E-3 AWACS aircraft to assist with escalating combat operations. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer paid a three-day visit to the country last week, where he met with Afghan and International Security Assistance Force officials. However, the AWACS issue has been percolating at least since earlier this month. German media, including Der Spiegel, have reported on the controversy the request has engendered in that country, which houses 18 NATO E-3s and provides many of the crew members, and already is debating whether to send additional ground troops as combat operations have escalated. According to a July 31 report in Stars and Stripes, the German parliament plans to address the AWACS request in September.