NATO to increase number of troops in Afghanistan

BISHKEK (TCA) — NATO has announced it will increase the number of troops in Afghanistan from the current 13,000 to 16,000 to aid the Kabul government in its fight against the Taliban, RFE/RL reports.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg made the announcement on November 9 at the end of a two-day meeting of the alliance’s defense ministers in Brussels.

Stoltenberg reiterated that the extra troops would not be involved in combat missions but would be part of NATO’s Resolute Support mission, whose aims is to train, advise, and assist the Afghan government forces.

About half of the additional troops are expected to come from the United States, with other NATO allies making up for the remainder.

The NATO chief also hailed the growing war capabilities of the Afghan Security and Defense Forces and said that the conventional Afghan security forces have prevented the Taliban from taking provincial capitals this fighting season, TOLOnews reported.

“In addition NATO allies and partners will continue to provide $1 billion USD a year to the defence and security forces (of Afghanistan) until at least 2020,” he added.

U.S. President Donald Trump in August announced a new Afghan strategy. In September, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that more than 3,000 additional U.S. troops would be deployed to Afghanistan.

The United States, NATO, and other partners had more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan for a time, but the Taliban has been resurgent since NATO ended combat operations in 2014. The extremist group Islamic State (IS) has also stepped up attacks.

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Times of Central Asia