May 10, 2017
NATO says its military authorities want more troops deployed to war-ravaged Afghanistan in the form of a “train, assist and advise operation.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters following talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May at her Downing Street office in London on Wednesday that the troops were needed to train local Afghan forces.
“We have received a request from our military authorities to increase our military presence in Afghanistan with a few thousand troops,” media outlets quoted the NATO chief as saying.
“It will be a train, assist and advise operation, because I strongly believe that the best answer we have against terrorism, the best weapon we have against terrorism, is to train local forces against terrorism and to stave off” threats by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group, Stoltenberg said.
“I strongly believe that the best thing you can do to fight against terrorism is to train local forces, enabling them to stabilise their own country and to fight terrorism themselves.”
American authorities have written to NATO partners about the future of the 28-country coalition’s military presence in Afghanistan.
“We are now assessing that request. We will make decisions on the scale and the scope of the mission within weeks,” Stoltenberg said.
In early May, US military officials and the State Department recommended sending 3,000 to 5,000 additional troops, including hundreds of Special Operations forces, to Afghanistan.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the NATO secretary general said the issue would be high on the agenda at an upcoming annual NATO summit in Brussels on May 25. “We will address our presence in Afghanistan at the leaders’ meeting but we will also address what NATO can do to step up its efforts to fight terrorism, including providing support to the counter-ISIL coalition,” he said, referring to an alternative name for Daesh.
The request for the deployment of more troops to Afghanistan could signal how NATO is increasingly being drawn back into fighting in Afghanistan. US-led forces formally ended the combat mission in the country in 2014.
The United States has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan with about another 5,000 from NATO allies.
Afghanistan is still suffering from insecurity and violence nearly 16 years after the United States and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The invasion removed Taliban from power, but militancy continues to this day.
In addition, Daesh has also gained ground and recruited militants across several provinces of Afghanistan over the past few years.
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