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No return to combat mission in Afghanistan: NATO

No return to combat mission in Afghanistan: NATO

May 25, 2017 - 14:35

BRUSSELS (Pajhwok): The NATOinfo-icon chief promised on Thursday the alliance would continue its mission to train, assist and advise Afghan security, an issue that will figure prominently at a meeting in Brussels today.

“We will also later on this year decide on the exact Troop levels. We will not return to a combat operation. Our aim is to train the Afghan forces to enable them to step up their efforts in stabilising their own country,” the secretary-general said.

In response to a question from Pajhwok Afghan News, Jens Stoltenberg told reporters ahead of heads of state meeting that NATO would help Afghan forces counter the Talibaninfo-icon and fight different terrorist groups, including ISIS.

“Afghan special operations forces have been very effective in targeting and attacking ISIS and other terrorist groups in Afghanistaninfo-icon. NATO troops are not doing that, but we help and train and advise Afghans in the fight against ISIS,” he said.

Later in the day, NATO heads of state and government will confer on ways of stepping up NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism and fairer burden-sharing.  Progress is being made on both questions, according to the secretary-general.

“Our largest military operation ever was launched in Afghanistan in a direct response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. 13,000 NATO troops continue to train Afghan forces. We will assess our level of support and the future of the mission,” he added.

Training local forces was one of the best weapons in the fight against terrorism, Stoltenberg remarked. Today’s meeting would decide on expanding support to the coalition against the ISIS.

There are many challenges in Afghanistan and no one said that the situation in Afghanistan was going to be easy when NATO ended its combat operation back at the end of 2014. But we have achieved a lot,” the alliance head said.

The Afghans were demonstrating professionalism and bravery in the way that they handled the security situation, he acknowledged.

The meeting is expected to agree on an agreement on creating a new terrorism intelligence cell at the NATO headquarters, improving intelligence-sharing and appoint a coordinator to oversee efforts in the fight against terrorism.

In 2014, all allies agreed to enhance defence spending to two percent of GDP within a decade. But a year later, cuts came to a stop. And in 2016, total spending across Europe and Canada increased by billions of dollars.

“So this is both a strong political message of unity in the fight against terrorism, but also a part of an Action Plan where we are providing more practical support to the efforts fighting global terrorism, including addressing our mission in Afghanistan.” Stoltenberg concluded.


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