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Sunday, December 6, 2015

NATO to keep about 12,000 troops in Afghanistan through next year

NATO has decided to maintain a steady level of about 12,000 troops in Afghanistan during 2016. It also launched a campaign to fund 350,000 Afghan forces it hopes will be able eventually to secure Afghanistan against the Taliban.

Even 14 years after the United States first sent troops to Afghanistan, many NATO members still doubt the ability of the Afghan armed forces to defend against the Taliban. Just recently, the Taliban took over the city of Kunduz in the north. The U.S. bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital using an AC-130 gunship, killing 30 people. In spite of serious questions about the military report on the incident, neither the U.S. nor the Afghans have given approval for an independent investigation. The security situation appears to be getting worse rather than better with the U.S. embassy warning U.S. citizens that there may be an attack in the capital, Kabul, in the next 24 hours. Officials claimed the attacks could include multiple assailants and car bombs throughout Kabul but no specific targets were identified.
Originally, the 28-member NATO alliance had intended to slash the number of troops in Afghanistan by the end of this year but given recent attacks by the Taliban and the apparent inability of the Afghan forces to fend off the Taliban on their own NATO has decided to leave a considerable force in the country. The rise of the Islamic State in Afghanistan also concerns NATO. Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg said: "We are in Afghanistan to prevent that Afghanistan again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists ... that is also in our security interest to make sure that that doesn't happen." The NATO operation, Resolute Support will continue with no end date given by Stoltenberg: "Today, NATO allies and Resolute Support operational partners have agreed to sustain the Resolute Support presence ... during 2016. The mission ... will continue to be kept under review and, if necessary, will be adjusted to ensure its effectiveness."The 12,000 NATO forces will consist of about 7,000 from the United States and 5,000 from other NATO members as well as Georgia. The number does not include US counter-terrorism forces. NATO wants to raise about 3 billion euros to help pay for Afghan forces after 2018. The Afghan security forces budget is funded by the US and NATO allies and is already set up to the end of 2017. In accordance with an agreement reached in 2012, NATO allies and partners give $1 billion a year to fund the Afghan security forces. The United States contributes a further $4.1 billion annually. The US has already spent about $65 billion training and preparing Afghan security forces and Afhganistan has received a further $100 billion in aid from international donors. As shown on the appended video, Russia provides some help to Afghanistan's security forces as well.


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