NATO seeks to strengten Afghanistan mission

NATO partner countries seek ways to strengthen their mission in Afghanistan as Taliban insurgency escalates

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

NATO soldiers in Kabul, Afghanistan

NATO’s Brussels and Kabul offices said they were looking for new ways of strengthening their Afghanistan mission to train and assist government forces, as Taliban insurgents gain more power in the country.

Local Afghan forces have been fighting the Taliban yet have been unable to provide security on their own. In September, the Taliban seized the northern city of Kunduz after NATO members invested billions of dollars to build a strong security force in the country. The city was regained in a few days with a joint effort by Afghan and NATO forces. 

Germany's second-most senior general in the NATO alliance, General Hans-Lothar Domroese, said the situation in Afghanistan was “not stable” in the way they hoped it would be.

NATO ministers scheduled a meeting in December to decide the future of their non-combat mission, Resolute Support, designed to advise and assist the Afghan Government and its security forces.

NATO’s presence in the country, which was not determined in its agreement with the government, could be extended if member countries commit their troops and resources.

Washington announced that it would extend its mission in Afghanistan at least until 2016 after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani asked US President Barack Obama to keep troops in the country due to worsening security.

Afghan Government stated its contentment with Resolute Support.

According to the National Security Council the Afghan government was hoping that NATO, especially the RS mission, will continue supporting government forces until the situation becomes stable in the country, spokesperson Tawab Ghorzang said in a statement.

Afghan security forces keep watch in front of a vehicle which was set on fire on the Kabul-Kandahar highway after fighting between government forces and Taliban militants in Ghazni, Afghanistan October 14, 2015

In October, Germany’s Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen also signaled the possibility of NATO troops staying in Afghanistan longer than one year depending on the situation on the ground, when she attended the NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels.

However, officials from member countries have expressed concern about the strategy, saying that nobody was pleased with the level of progress.

A NATO diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity in Brussels said his country was helping the Afghan government more than it would like to and added;

"The alliance's forces can't keep helping forever.” 

Another Western official commented on the situation by saying that the strategy was flawed.

"After 14 years, do you really think that 12 more months is going to make a difference?" he said.

On the other hand, Reuters reported that no official they spoke with was expecting a major change in the mission.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recently reiterated NATO would “not go into a new combat operation."

The number of troops provided by NATO in Afghanistan was reduced to around 14,000 from 140,000 in the last couple of years. As of 2015 NATO countries are funding around 90 percent of the operational costs of the Afghan security forces.


TRTWorld and agencies