Afghanistan — Commander Discusses NATO Contributions in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — The NATO allies are in Afghanistan for the long haul and have made both sig­nif­i­cant progress and sig­nif­i­cant com­mit­ments to the effort there, the alliance’s supreme allied com­man­der for Europe said here today.

The NATO-led Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force will have rough­ly 98,000 U.S. troops and about 43,000 allied troops by fall, Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis told the Defense Writ­ers Group. NATO’s troop con­tri­bu­tion in Afghanistan is “sig­nif­i­cant,” he said.

Casu­al­ty fig­ures, the admi­ral said, show that NATO has stepped up. About 1,100 U.S. ser­vice­mem­bers have been killed in Afghanistan, and the oth­er coali­tion mem­bers have lost 650.

“Per capi­ta, Esto­nia has suf­fered the most,” Stavridis said, “fol­lowed by Den­mark, Great Britain, Cana­da and the Unit­ed States.”

With Mon­go­lia, Mon­tene­gro and South Korea join­ing the coali­tion, 47 nations are now work­ing togeth­er in Afghanistan, Stavridis not­ed. “The allies are in this in a sub­stan­tial way,” he said. “Could they do more? Yes.”

Though the allied con­tri­bu­tion is sub­stan­tial, he said, the coali­tion needs more peo­ple to train the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces.

Suc­cess in Afghanistan will come, Stavridis said, when the Afghan army and police can take over the secu­ri­ty mis­sion. About 5,200 more train­ers are need­ed in Afghanistan. Rough­ly 3,600 are on the ground now. NATO’s share of the over­all train­ing mis­sion is 1,600.

“Right now, I’ve got on the ground or com­mit­ted 1,150” train­ers, the admi­ral said. “So, I need 450 [more].”

The train­ing mis­sion in Afghanistan, Stavridis said, is his high­est pri­or­i­ty. As he works with NATO nations’ defense chiefs to fill the short­fall, he added, U.S. sol­diers will step in to bridge the train­ing gap. The admi­ral thanked those sol­diers for serv­ing a 90-day tour, say­ing there is no more impor­tant job in Afghanistan today.

The Afghan secu­ri­ty forces are mak­ing progress, and their con­tri­bu­tions must be fac­tored into any plan mov­ing for­ward in the coun­try, Stavridis said. Afghanistan has about 200,000 sol­diers and police today, and that num­ber will grow to around 250,000 in the fall, he said. The forces are grow­ing in size and capa­bil­i­ties, he added, while the deser­tion rate has gone down. And improve­ments in pay – both the amount and how it makes it to the sol­diers and police – have been a fac­tor in recruit­ing and reten­tion.

Stavridis said four fac­tors will be essen­tial to coali­tion suc­cess in Afghanistan. First among these, he said, is strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

“It’s effec­tive­ly explain­ing what we’re doing and why we’re doing it in the cap­i­tals of the alliance and in Afghanistan,” he explained.

The sec­ond is the civ­il-mil­i­tary bal­ance. Civil­ian aid is just as impor­tant as mil­i­tary force in this new world, he said. Mark Sed­will, the senior NATO civil­ian rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Afghanistan, is get­ting the civil­ian effort work­ing in tan­dem with the mil­i­tary effort, the admi­ral said.

Third is pro­tect­ing the peo­ple of Afghanistan. Stavridis echoed the sen­ti­ment expressed by ISAF Com­man­der Army Gen. Stan­ley A. McChrys­tal, who has said, “We will not kill our way out of this.”

“We have got to make pro­tect­ing the Afghan peo­ple the cen­ter of grav­i­ty,” Stavridis said. “We’ve made some progress in that, but every inci­dent [of civil­ian casu­al­ties] hurts us.”

Final­ly, the admi­ral said, train­ing the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces is cru­cial to suc­cess.

Stavridis said that while much remains to be done, Afghanistan has seen over­all progress, and the alliance has made a dif­fer­ence.

“Afghanistan is often called the grave­yard of empires,” he said. “But we’re not an empire, and the coali­tion has no desire to stay in the coun­try any longer than nec­es­sary.”

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →