NATO may join the Trump administration in sending thousands of troops to Afghanistan to bolster the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), Secretary General Jans Stoltenberg told reporters Wednesday.
Stoltenberg elaborated that the request for more troops came from NATO military advisors in Afghanistan. “We have received a request from our military authorities to increase our military presence in Afghanistan with a few thousand troops,” he explained. He added that NATO would decide “on the scale and the scope of the mission within weeks,” likely ahead of the NATO head of state meeting on May 25.
NATO’s considerations come as the Trump administration is reportedly considering a plan to escalate the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. The current U.S. effort of training, advising, and assisting ANSF against the Taliban is not going well. The Taliban control nearly one-third of the Afghan population and more territory than at any time since the war began in 2001.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Congress Thursday “the overall situation in Afghanistan will very likely to continue to deteriorate, even if international support is sustained.” He continued, “endemic state weaknesses, the government’s political fragility, deficiencies of the Afghan National Security Forces, Taliban persistence, and regional interference will remain key impediments to improvement.”
Coats’ testimony echoes the Apr 30 concerns of U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction that Afghan forces face “many problems: unsustainable casualties, temporary losses of provincial and district centers, weakness in logistics and other functions, illiteracy in the ranks, often corrupt or ineffective leadership, and over-reliance on highly trained special forces for routine missions.”
The U.S. and NATO increase in troops would likely attempt to train, advise, and assist ANSF at lower unit levels. The proposal also includes changing the U.S. military’s rules of engagement while supporting ANSF. The goal is to curb the Taliban’s battlefield gains and push them into entering a peace process with the Afghan government.
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