Additional US troops in Afghanistan would depend on NATO allies

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The United States is looking to its NATO allies to determine how many additional troops are going to be sent to Afghanistan, Russia’s Sputnik news agency reports.

How many troops will be sent will be decided by NATO allies, judging from the words of Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“We’ve been talking Afghanistan for weeks,” Dunford said. “Now we’ve gotten to the point where the national security adviser [Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster] will facilitate a meeting with the president.”

The plan involves a joint reinforcement of some 15,000 troops needed to boost the military effectiveness of the US-NATO “expeditionary advising packages,” essentially training Afghan military forces to do the fighting.

“What I would like to be able to do when I go to NATO is say, ‘This is the US plan for 2017 and beyond, and this is the requirement identified by the commanders,” Dunford said. “And start to have conversations to try and generate the forces to meet that requirement.”

That may mean that US President Trump would start negotiations in Brussels on May 25 by letting NATO commanders decide how many troops they can send to Afghanistan, in an attempt to shift the balance towards more NATO troops and fewer US troops.

Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, stressed the importance of the 15,000-strong reinforcement to expand the “expeditionary advising packages.”

In the meantime, the Taliban is continuing its offensive in northern Afghanistan, establishing control over new territories in the Kunduz province.

The TOLOnews agency reported on May 9 that at least five military and police outposts near the city of Kunduz are besieged by the militants.

Sergey Kwan

TCA