War in Afghanistan

Nato planning to send more troops to Afghanistan

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 November, 2017, 8:38pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 November, 2017, 8:41pm

More than 16 years after the invasion, US-led forces are set to send more soldiers to Afghanistan, a move Nato hopes will “break the stalemate”.

Nato allies are expected to agree on Thursday to increase troop levels by about 3,000. Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the personnel will be there to train Afghan security forces.

About half the additional troops will come from the United States and the other half from non-US Nato allies and partner countries, Stoltenberg said.

“We have decided to increase the number of troops … to help the Afghans break the stalemate,” Stoltenberg told a news conference on Tuesday before a meeting of the alliance’s defence ministers later this week.

Stoltenberg insisted the soldiers would not have combat roles but would be part of Nato’s train, advise and assist mission.

US Army General John Nicholson, the commander of the training mission and of US forces in Afghanistan, called for more troops in February, saying that a few thousand extra would make a difference in weakening the Taliban and other Islamist militants.

The Nato contribution would take the mission, which is said to be building up Afghanistan’s army and air force, to around 16,000 troops, up from around 13,000, Stoltenberg said.

Under a new strategy announced by US President Donald Trump, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said in September that more than 3,000 additional US troops will be deployed to Afghanistan.

While Nato officials declined to discuss troop numbers in detail, the expected announcement on Thursday by Nato defence ministers is likely to mean the US troops will be split between the training mission and the US-led counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan.