Responding to President Barack Obama’s renewed commitment to the war in Afghanistan, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen of NATO pledged 5,000 additional Western troops to support the 42,000 NATO soldiers already on the ground.
His promise seems a bit uncertain. France and Germany announced they will wait until the Afghanistan conference in London in January before making a decision. Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland, the only other NATO members, besides the United Kingdom, with more than a thousand troops in Afghanistan, are troubled by rising opposition to the war at home. In fact, Canada and the Netherlands had both planned to withdraw next year.
Poland has pledged an additional 600 troops while of the remaining NATO partners only Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom appear willing to answer Obama’s call.
The first have promised 250 forces each while the United Kingdom will add 500 soldiers to the 9,000-strong force it has in Afghanistan. A figure that apparently does not include Special Forces.
I am highly skeptical to Rasmussen’s claims. The fact is that most European nations lack not only the political will but also the resources for massive reinforcements. So while there might be a small trickle, like Sweden’s increase from 400 to 500 troops, no major reinforcements will be found.
Given the differences of power, anything approaching an equal deployment footing between the US and any one or small number of EU states would be fairly impossible. It seems to be an ‘each according to his needs’ by which political will is shown. Admittedly, there’s not much of that going about on this side of the ocean.
It seems we can count on the Italians to deliver another 1,000 troops.
Ah, men of that great stalwart military tradition. They’ll probably revert to default setting and change sides.
You know you’re in trouble when it’s the Italians you have to count on.
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