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WASHINGTON – While members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have pledged future training of Afghan security forces once U.S. and NATO combat concludes at the end of 2014, there are growing indications that such a commitment may not be ironclad, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
This less than firm commitment grew out of a two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers in which NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen had to admit that the Western security alliance hasn’t come up with a firm training mission.
“We are in the process of planning and I would expect final decisions on the size and scope of the future NATO-led training mission to be taken within the coming months,” he said.
The lack of a firm decision on what that training mission would encompass reflects differences in outlook by NATO members. The idea was for each member to continue providing a small force for training, but the concern is that it could grow into a costly experience as the current commitment has become.
For one thing, there is no consensus on what shape operational plans will take. As it is, what commitment NATO members have made to date has been very limited. However, there is concern among them as to the very limited number of troops the United States intends to provide.
With the U.S. stating that it will provide no more than 10,000 troops, this puts increased pressure on the NATO allies to cough up more troops of their own to fill the gap to meet their commitment.
The 10,000 troops the U.S. has in mind would be divided between training and counter-terrorism operations. Douglas Lute, special assistant to President Barack Obama on Pakistan and Afghanistan, had given a confidential briefing in Brussels last month in which he said that the U.S. no longer would back the international mission with Medevac helicopters, among other things.
This has created more of challenge, especially to Germany and the other NATO allies, who will have to provide more troops for training at a time when Berlin especially has promised for some time to withdraw forces from Afghanistan due to internal political pressures.
In his briefing, Lute reportedly had made clear that each quadrant of the country would have its own independent training center, although their coordination would come from Kabul.
For that reason, the U.S. expects the NATO allies to commit troops for each quadrant. For example, Germany has been in the northern regional command with some 4,400 troops.
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