Friday, June 30, 2017

Europe to meet U.S. plea for more troops to Afghanistan - Reuters

European allies pledged more troops to support Afghanistan's hard-pressed military on Thursday but left details on numbers vague until the United States clarifies its new strategy to break a stalemate with the Taliban.

Despite public fatigue, Europe's latest offer for reinforcements underscores the West's determination to defeat Taliban fighters who harbored al Qaeda militants behind the September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

It also reflects a growing realization that the United States and its allies were too hasty in pulling down their large troop presence in 2011, which allowed militants to regain ground and weaken efforts to build Afghanistan's democracy.

"Looking back on it, it's pretty much a consensus that we may have ...reduced the numbers a little too rapidly," U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told a news conference following a meeting of NATO defense ministers.

Since drastically drawing down from a peak of more than 130,000 NATO troops in 2011, allies have scrapped an earlier plan to pull out of the country despite the high costs of the United States' longest-running war.

n a closed-door meeting, Mattis pressed NATO allies and non-member partners to provide more personnel to help train the Afghan armed forces. That would add to the 13,450 U.S. and multinational troops involved in training in the country.

NATO commanders are working on the basis of around 1,200 additional troops for next year, diplomats said, but Mattis declined to go into numbers. He said so far he filled 70 percent of the gaps identified by NATO and voiced confidence following his talks in Brussels that "we'll be filling the rest."

"We still have a few gaps and nations are stepping up," Mattis said.

The United States is considering sending up to 5,000 more troops beyond what NATO allies offer, officials say. - Read More

Europe to meet U.S. plea for more troops to Afghanistan


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