Defense Chiefs Of NATO And Other Allies To Press For More Trainers For Afghan Forces

Defense Chiefs Of NATO And Other Allies To Press For More Trainers For Afghan Forces
April 13th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Defense Chiefs Of NATO And Other Allies To Press For More Trainers For Afghan Forces

Defense Chiefs Of NATO And Other Allies To Press For More Trainers For Afghan Forces
New York Times
April 13, 2007
By Thom Shanker
WASHINGTON, April 12 — Defense ministers from NATO nations and other allies meeting Thursday in Quebec agreed to press for a new deployment of 3,400 trainers for the Afghan police and armed forces, increasing by almost one-tenth the international military commitment there.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said his discussions with counterparts whose nations contribute forces to southern Afghanistan, which has taken the brunt of the fighting with Taliban insurgents, focused on “enhancing the capability of the Afghan Army and police.”
He said the assembled defense ministers had discussed whether European nations that had not committed combat troops to Afghanistan might pick up the bulk of the expanded training mission. As an example, he suggested mounting an effort similar to a European Union training unit that had been proposed for service in Kosovo.
“One of the things we talked about was approaching other Europeans about filling some of those positions, because it’s a training job, and they have some real expertise in that area,” Mr. Gates said aboard his plane on the way back to Washington.
“Where you have nations that are not willing to put combat troops in, it is an area where those who are not willing to do that or able to do that may be able to pick up the slack in this area,” Mr. Gates added. “Those of us who are contributing most of the combat forces don’t have additional forces available.”
Mr. Gates did pledge that American forces would fill some of the new training jobs, about 60 percent of which will be dedicated to improving the Afghan police and the rest to training the Afghan Army.
The Quebec session, which brought together defense ministers from Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United States, with lower-level officials invited from Estonia and Romania, was requested by Canada, which lost eight soldiers in southern Afghanistan just this week, its highest rate of combat deaths since the Korean War.
The NATO-led security and development effort in Afghanistan today consists of 35,000 troops from 26 NATO nations and 11 other allies. Of those, 15,000 are from the United States. The American military has another 11,000 troops in Afghanistan carrying out separate counterterrorism and training missions.
But some of the allies contributing troops to Afghanistan have said their forces may only be deployed to parts of the country where the violence is lower than in the south or in the east. And some of those foreign units operate under restrictions concerning the types of missions they are allowed to undertake.
After the talks in Quebec, the Canadian defense minister, Gordon O’Connor, told reporters that he and his counterparts “talked about how we could coordinate our efforts better in the south, how we could better train the Afghan Army and the police, how we could coordinate our efforts in reconstruction.”
Mr. Gates said that despite the complexity, and violence, encountered while securing and rebuilding southern Afghanistan, the spiritual home of the Taliban, he sensed no lessening of commitment from the allied ministers.
“I think all of us anticipate that this is a years-long process, and I didn’t hear any flagging on the part of anybody,” Mr. Gates said. “We realize that creating these Afghan capabilities is going to take time.”
Likewise, Mr. Gates said, there is agreement among the allies on the broad strategy for the mission in Afghanistan.
“I think even those that prefer to focus their forces and their efforts more on the development and reconstruction side acknowledge that there has to be a secure environment in which they can do that,” Mr. Gates said. “They just don’t want to do it. But I think there is a general understanding that it has to be both.”