Sunday, July 10, 2016

Despite fatigue, NATO commits to fund Afghan forces to 2020

NATO allies agreed on Saturday to help fund Afghan security forces to the tune of around $1 billion annually over the next three years, despite public fatigue in Western countries about their involvement in the long-running conflict.

Fifteen years since the United States invaded to topple the Taliban rulers who had harbored al Qaeda militants behind attacks on the United States, the West remains entangled in a costly effort to stabilize a country facing resurgent rebels.

U.S. President Barack Obama said completely withdrawing from Afghanistan risked seeing the country collapse and then having to send American troops back in again to deal with a new threat.

"We have an option of ... pulling out and potentially then seeing a country crumble under the strains of continued terrorist activity or insurgencies," Obama told a news conference at the end of a NATO summit in Warsaw.

He defended his decision, along with other NATO allies, to reverse plans to sharply reduce troops levels, saying Afghan forces still needed training, funding and support.

"The Afghans are fighting. They are much more capable now than they were when I came into office, but they still need support because it is a really tough territory and it is a really poor country," Obama said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he had won almost $3 billion in commitments from allies to help the United States pay for the Afghan military until 2020, which now has ground forces but still needs to develop an air force.

A senior U.S. official said, on condition of anonymity, that the allies had made pledges that put them at more than 90 percent of the funding levels agreed to at a 2012 NATO summit in Chicago. - Read More

Despite fatigue, NATO commits to fund Afghan forces to 2020


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