Millennium Post

NATO boosts support to Afghanistan war; falls short of goal

Brussels: After months of lobbying NATO allies to increase their troop contributions and support to the war in Afghanistan, the alliance came up short on Thursday, meeting a bit more than 90 percent of the military requirements mapped out by commanders, according to NATO officials.

US military leaders, however, said they have been encouraged by the continuing discussions with several nations, who may eventually agree to increase their commitments.
"Coming out, it won't be at 100 percent today," said US Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO's top military officer.
"We're still in discussion with more than a few nations that are looking at an increase above the initial one given at the force generation conference. So, I'm encouraged."
The gap, said General John Nicholson, top US commander for Afghanistan, has contributed to the lowest level of capabilities and the "highest level of risk we faced" in the 16-year war.
Nicholson and Scaparrotti declined to provide details on the numbers, but other NATO officials confirmed that coming out of the meeting on Thursday there would be a shortfall approaching 10 percent. The officials weren't authorized to discuss the numbers publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity. NATO defense ministers are meeting here to provide their countries' latest decisions on troop contributions, under pressure from US and NATO leaders to beef up their commitments.
Defence Secretary Jim Mattis sent letters to some allies in recent weeks urging them to fill critical gaps.
The additional trainers are critical to reaching the stated US and NATO goal of building up the Afghan forces so that they can take control of their own country's security.
At the same time, officials want to use the increased military pressure to force Taliban leaders to the peace table.
Scaparrotti told reporters that, at the end of the day, there will still be a need for additional trainers and advisers, particularly at schools for Afghan forces.
"This is a complex world and there's a lot of demand on the military, and so all these nations have to make hard choices between Afghanistan, internal responsibilities and other missions," Scaparrotti told reporters traveling with Mattis. "We also have budget constraints that each of the nations are dealing with. It's just a fact of life today."
Nicholson told reporters that that he needs close to 16,000 troops to fill the NATO training mission in Afghanistan. That number does not include other support missions or counterterrorism operations against the Taliban, Islamic State militants and other insurgents. Nicholson said he is most concerned about getting enough trainers and advisers for the Afghan commandoes, the Air Force and the schools where the military and local police are trained.

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