- On Tuesday, Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary-General of NATO, warned that the military coalition could pay a heavy price for leaving Afghanistan "too early", after a U.S. official stated that President Trump is expected to withdraw a significant number of American troops from the country in the coming weeks.
BRUSSELS: On Tuesday, Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary-General of NATO, warned that the military coalition could pay a heavy price for leaving Afghanistan "too early", after a U.S. official stated that President Trump is expected to withdraw a significant number of American troops from the country in the coming weeks.
With a coalition of 12,000 troops from dozens of nations , NATO serves a vital purpose in Afghanistan, especially including the training and advising of the national security forces. However, nearly half of the contingent of NATO troops in the country is made up of American soldiers, as this alliance of 30 nations relies heavily upon the United States Armed Forces for logistical and intelligence support - making a complete (and premature) withdrawal a daunting prospect.
In a statement, Stoltenberg mentioned that " We now face a difficult decision. We have been in Afghanistan for almost 20 years, and no NATO ally wants to stay any longer than necessary. But at the same time, the price for leaving too soon or in an uncoordinated way could be very high". He warned that Afghanistan still "risks becoming once again a platform for international terrorists to plan and organize attacks on our homelands. And the Islamic State could rebuild in Afghanistan the terror caliphate it lost in Syria and Iraq".
The Trump Administration's sudden decision to undertake an accelerated withdrawal comes just days after the President installed Republican loyalists with limited experience in intelligence and defense strategy in top Pentagon positions; all of whom will likely parrot the President's stance on these matters. According to these expected plans, by January 2021 the United States would drastically cut troop numbers in Afghanistan by half, leaving approximately 2500 troops in the war-torn country.
Stoltenberg stated that “even with further U.S. reductions, NATO will continue its mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces. We are also committed to funding them through 2024". He added that "We went into Afghanistan together. And when the time is right, we should leave together in a coordinated and orderly way. I count on all NATO allies to live up to this commitment, for our own security".