NATO may station up to 12,000 troops in post-2014 Afghanistan

NATO may station up to 12,000 troops in Afghanistan to train and assist Kabul's forces after its combat mission against the Taliban ends there in 2014, US officials said Friday.

US Pentagon spokesman George Little said NATO was considering deployment of between 8,000 and 12,000 troops, including any US contribution, but no final decision has yet been made.

Reports of a US presence of 8,000 to 12,000 troops "are not correct," he said.

President Barack Obama "is still reviewing options and has not made a decision about the size of a possible US presence after 2014," he said, adding that discussions will now continue with NATO allies and Afghanistan.

US press reports suggest Washington wants a US troop figure well below 10,000.

The issue of NATO's post-2014 mission in Afghanistan is sensitive, with the allies anxious to ensure that the efforts in blood and money of more than 12 difficult years are maintained by a strong Afghan army.

However, the war has grown increasingly unpopular and some countries are reluctant to make a large commitment given the risks still posed by the Taliban.

Additionally, there has been uncertainty over the US role as Washington and Kabul negotiate an accord on the legal status of US troops after 2014.

The US government has taken a hard line, insisting on a watertight accord before any deployment is made. Officials say no agreement is likely until much later this year.

Earlier, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had declined to give precise figures for the post-2014 mission and stressed that NATO was looking at a variety of options and seeking to maintain the most flexibility.

Panetta, who also rejected the report of 8,000 to 12,000 US troops being involved, said the training and advisory mission would have a presence throughout Afghanistan.

There "will be a presence in Kabul and in the North, South, West and East," he told a press conference at the end of a two-day NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels.

He also detailed the US troop withdrawal programme after Obama last month announced that 34,000 soldiers -- just over half the current number -- would be brought home this year.

US forces will be largely maintained for the upcoming Afghan fighting season and then reduced to about 50,000 by November and 32,000 by February, staying at that level during elections, after which the remainder will go home, he said.

The meeting also discussed a proposal to keep the Afghan army at around 350,000 through to 2018, rather than reduce it steadily to some 230,000 once foreign troops leave, officials said.

They gave no precise reason for this possible change of tack beyond the need to reassure Afghans that NATO was not going to abandon them.

Ministers spent a lot of time too on how the 28-member alliance could make tight budgets go further as governments cut spending to balance their books.

The United States, NATO's dominant power, has increasingly complained that European defence cuts mean it shoulders more of the burden and Panetta warned again Friday over the dangers.

Deep spending cuts and what he described as "US political gridlock" were a risk to military capability, he said.

"I do fear, if it is not already so, that the alliance will be stretched too thin," he said.

Panetta, 74, had not expected to come to Brussels but the Senate delayed a vote on President Obama's nominee to replace him, Chuck Hagel, until next week.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Honda Launches the New Generation BeAT Fi
    Honda Launches the New Generation BeAT Fi

    Honda Philippines Inc. (HPI) recently unveiled its latest offering, the New Generation BeAT-FI eSP Series at the Music Hall of the SM Mall of Asia. Daiki Mihara, President of Honda Philippines, Inc., is confident of the potentials of the New Generation BeAT-FI eSP Series in the local scooter market. “The New Generation BeAT-FI eSP Series is a reflection of Honda Philippines’ continued commitment to provide powerful, safe, fun, and worthwhile driving experience to the growing market of …

  • 15 wounded in 2 explosions in restive southern Philippines

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — At least 15 people have been wounded in two separate blasts that hit a police camp in a restive southern Philippine province where Muslim militants operate, police said Saturday. …

  • 15 wounded in mosque attack at Philippine police camp
    15 wounded in mosque attack at Philippine police camp

    Fifteen people including 10 police officers were wounded in an attack on a mosque at police camp on a remote Philippine island long plagued by Islamic militancy, officials said on Saturday. Successive blasts targeted the mosque inside Camp Kasim on the island of Jolo early evening Friday -- an initial grenade attack followed by a bomb explosion less than 10 minutes later that was intended to target police who rushed to the scene, local authorities said. "It seems the (first) explosion was set …

  • US missile cruiser docks at Subic
    US missile cruiser docks at Subic

    A US Navy missile cruiser has dropped anchor in Subic Bay as part of “routine port call,” amid rising tension in the West Philippine Sea stirred by China’s island building activities and other threatening moves by its forces. The arrival of the Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) at the Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City yesterday was “just a routine port visit for ship replenishment and routine maintenance of shipboard system,” said Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office …

  • Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño
    Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño

    The agriculture and power sectors, as well as the general public should brace for a prolonged El Niño phenomenon that could further reduce water supply for electricity and irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. Flaviana Hilario, acting deputy administrator for research and development of PAGASA, said the El Niño condition is expected to intensify from weak to moderate by August this year. Anthony Lucero, …

  • China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row
    China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row

    The US should help “cool down” the Philippines and realize that its meddling in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute would only stir tensions, a Chinese newspaper reported. “Washington should know its meddling in the South China Sea has been destabilizing the region. The US has vowed not to take sides in the territorial dispute, which involves China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. …

  • No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests
    No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests

    K to 12 is the fruit of years of comprehensive consultations involving different sectors in education,” Aquino said during the launching of the program at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. Organized by the Department of Education (DepEd), the launch was attended by teachers, students and representatives from different stakeholders supportive of the K to 12 program. It was held two years after the signing of Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education …

  • MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t
    MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t

    The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) maintained its bid for completion of the tripartite review of the implementation of the peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996. The MNLF’s desire to put consensual closure to the tripartite effort was relayed by its leaders to Sayed El-Masry, the special envoy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during the annual foreign ministers conference in Kuwait last Thursday. The MNLF peace agreement with the government in Sept. 2, …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options