Tags: eu | nato | afghanistan

NATO to Pledge Forces for Afghan War

Monday, 07 Dec 2009 05:21 AM

 

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BRUSSELS -- Military representatives of NATO's 28 member nations met Monday to pledge additional troops to serve alongside the 30,000 reinforcements committed to Afghanistan by President Barack Obama, a spokesman said.

The conference at NATO's military headquarters in Mons, Belgium, is expected to confirm last week's pledges made by allied nations for an additional 7,000 troops. Results will be announced Tuesday after the meeting ends, NATO deputy spokeswoman Carmen Romero said.

On Friday, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he expects member states to commit several thousand more troops by the time of an international conference in London in January, where the allies will discuss the war effort and an eventual exit strategy with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai.

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The Obama administration expects its allies in the International Security Assistance Force, known as ISAF, to provide up to 10,000 additional troops. Together with the 30,000 new U.S. troops and ISAF's current 106,000 members, the international force would number over 140,000 by the middle of next year.

A large percentage of the European reinforcements are expected to be trainers for the expanding Afghan security forces. Others will likely be sent to southern Afghanistan, including its volatile Helmand province, one of the key centers of the Taliban-led insurgency.

Monday's meeting in Mons is part of an annual effort during which member nations commit forces for all the alliance's military missions. The national military representatives earlier committed forces to NATO's naval anti-piracy and anti-terrorism patrols, and for the alliance's mission in Kosovo.

At a meeting of NATO's foreign ministers in Brussels on Friday, Rasmussen said at least 25 nations have committed to send more troops or provide other assistance to ISAF in support of Obama's surge.

The move to significantly expand the allied and Afghan security forces comes at a time when NATO's European members are tightening defense budgets in response to the economic downturn. Many governments also face overwhelming public opposition to the war, which many voters see as unwinnable.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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