NATO shrinks scope of future Afghan mission
KABUL (PAN): NATO is planning a modest post-war mission in Afghanistan, with fewer combat trainers and more military managers to ensure that billions of dollars in security aid are not wasted, a media report said on Monday.
The minimalist mission mirrors concerns the US Congress and European parliaments may revoke their financial pledges -- more than $4 billion a year -- unless foreign troops are positioned at Afghan military and police headquarters to oversee how the money is spent.
"The reduced scope is also a result of conflicting interests among military and political leaders that have been on display throughout the 12-year war," the New York Times reported.
A senior NATO diplomat told the newspaper any long-term NATO military presence in Afghanistan was directly linked to the $4.1 billion aid and the alliance ability to account for it. “You need enough troops to responsibly administer, oversee and account for $4 billion a year of security assistance.”
He stressed continued financing of Afghan security forces to prevent possible political chaos and factional bloodshed after an end to NATO’s combat role in December 2014. “It’s not just the shiny object, the number of troops,” he said. “Perhaps much more meaningful is, does the funding flow?”
While military commanders want the postwar effort to concentrate on training and advising Afghans with NATO troops spread across the battlefield, political leaders in Washington and NATO countries prefer fewer soldiers only at large Afghan headquarters.
NATO has suggested an enduring presence of 12,000 troops, with two-thirds contributed by the US forces, a number that is smaller than what military commanders have recommended. But alliance officials say larger numbers are unnecessary.
"The postwar plan depends on a security agreement between the United States and Afghanistan concerning the number, role and legal protection of American troops," the report said
Kabul's quest for the continued flow of billions of dollars in international assistance was cited as one reason for optimism among American and NATO officials that an agreement will be reached.
Pentagon officials want some American commandos to continue conducting counterterrorism missions, unilaterally or in coordination with Afghan forces, the report added.
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