by WorldTribune Staff, November 8, 2017
NATO said it will add 3,000 troops at the start of 2018 to its mission to train Afghanistan’s army.
According to a Nov. 7 report by Reuters, the new personnel will not have a combat role but NATO hopes the troops can train the Afghan army and its newly-formed air force to complement U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy to send more American counter-terrorism troops to the country.
“We have decided to increase the number of troops … to help the Afghans break the stalemate, to send a message to the Taliban, to the insurgents that they will not win on the battleground,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference on Nov. 7.
The new NATO contribution would boost the training mission, called Resolute Support, to around 16,000 troops, Stoltenberg said. About half the additional troops would come from the United States and the rest from NATO allies and partner countries.
U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of the Resolute Support mission and of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in February that a few thousand more troops would make a difference.
About 11,000 U.S. troops are serving in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said in August, including almost 7,000 in Resolute Support, according to NATO data.
Under Trump’s new strategy, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in September that more than 3,000 additional U.S. troops would be deployed to Afghanistan.
Trump’s strategy in Afghanistan, unveiled in August, calls for additional troops, continued training for the Afghan army and support from regional allies such as India and Pakistan.
“We’d like to see Pakistan come in, in a positive effort to help stabilize Afghanistan,” said Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Trump’s envoy to NATO.
U.S. officials say Pakistan provides refuge and support to the Taliban and other extremist groups, which Pakistan denies.