Friday, December 4, 2009
NATO says more than 20 countries plan to increase troop levels in Afghanistan, following US President Obama's increased commitment to the war.
NATO says at least 20 countries plan to increase their troop levels in Afghanistan, following U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement of a 30,000-troop boost to the war-torn nation.
NATO spokesman James Appathurai told reporters NATO members had shown a clear determination to support President Barack Obama's strategy in Afghanistan - not just through rhetoric, but by dispatching more troops.
"I can confirm we have now well over 20 countries that are indicating or have already indicated they intend to increase the amounts of forces they have in the country - in Afghanistan. This is on top of the 38,000 (troops from other NATO members and allies) that are already there, taking into account a doubling over the past two years," he said.
Apparthurai said that based on discussions over the past two days, non-U.S. troop contributions to Afghanistan would easily surpass the 5,000 soldiers NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen had predicted.
The reinforcements could bring total troop numbers to 140,00 or more.
Apparthurai's spoke at the start of a two-day NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.
While many European countries have hailed Mr. Obama's planned troop increase, Germany and France in particular have not come forward with any new troop pledges of their own.
But several other NATO members, notably Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have reportedly agreed to boost their troop commitments.
The NATO meeting will also focus on another key issue - sending trainers to Afghanistan to increase the numbers and capacity of the Afghan military and police force.
"What you will hear out of this ministerial is a very strong endorsement of the transition [ie to Afghan security forces] - of the need to transition and the need to resource transition," he explained. "So I expect that this ministerial will give new impetus to precisely to this area that you mentioned - which is training. Because that is the way to make transition a reality," he said.
The foreign ministers discussed progress by Georgia and Ukraine toward eventual NATO membership.
Afganistan is expected to dominate Friday's agenda, and Mrs. Clinton will brief ministers on the administration's strategy. The ministers will also hold talks on new areas of cooperation with Russia, and the new U.S. approach to missile defense.