NATO troop boost falls short of new Afghanistan strategy aims

NATO troop boost falls short of new Afghanistan strategy aims

By Loree Lewis   
Left to right: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with Jim Mattis (US Secretary of Defense) and Gavin Williamson (UK Minister of Defence). November 9, 2017. (Photo: NATO)

WASHINGTON – Three months after President Donald Trump announced his new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. and its allies are short the troops to execute it.

After meeting with NATO defense ministers in Brussels Thursday, alliance head Jens Stoltenberg said 28 nations including the U.S. agreed to pledge more troops over the coming months to build the Afghan security forces, but that the commitment is a work in progress.

“We haven’t finalized that so it’s not possible to provide any final figures.”

Stoltenberg said Qatar and the United Arab Emirates may also contribute troops.

On Wednesday, the top NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, told reporters in Brussels that 16,000 troops are needed for the Resolute Support mission, up from the current 13,000.

“We have made it very clear to the allies that we really need their help in filling these billets.”

Stoltenberg said the goal is for half the boost to be U.S. troops and half other allies.

In February, Nicholson requested several thousand more NATO troops to break the conflict with the Taliban from what he called a “stalemate.”

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