In response to U.S. requests and the U.S.’s committment to the Afghan surge, NATO commits to 7,000 more troops, less than a third of the American committment and, in total, 3,000 less than what Gen. McCrystal wanted:
Responding to American entreaties for more soldiers in Afghanistan, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO secretary general, announced Friday that the alliance had agreed to contribute a further 7,000 “new forces” to the coalition there following Washington’s decision to commit some 30,000 American reinforcements.
At a news conference, Mr. Rasmussen said the injection of a total of 37,000 American and allied forces into the fight against the Taliban next year would have a “powerful effect” and he pledged that Afghanistan would not be allowed to “fall back into the hands” of what he called terrorists and extremists. “That is not going to happen,” he said.
Mr. Rasmussen was speaking after President Obama sent his top diplomat, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, to Europe to press sometimes balky NATO allies to contribute thousands of additional troops to his new strategy for turning the tide in the Afghanistan war.
Some countries were confused by Obama’s speech, but SecState Clinton helped to clarify Obama’s message:
Mrs. Clinton acknowledged that some countries were confused by Mr. Obama’s plan to begin bringing home American troops in July 2011. But she said that, over all, “The response has been positive,” and that she would work to clear up doubts over the American timetable.
“I think there have been sort of misunderstandings about what that date meant,” Mrs. Clinton said Thursday to reporters during the flight to a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels. “Now, that doesn’t mean we’re going to get to 2011 and jump off a cliff; it means that we’re going to be as careful and deliberative as necessary.”
Current NATO forces stand at 40,000. It is not known when — or where — the 7,000 will come from:
NATO foreign ministers had gathered here to discuss the new American strategy and its impact on the alliance. There are now about 40,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, not counting the American forces, currently numbering 68,000 troops. President Obama said Tuesday he planned to send 30,000 more American military personnel.
Britain has already pledged 500 more soldiers, while Italy, Poland, Georgia and Slovakia are sending new deployments, from a few dozen to 1,000 — bringing the total NATO commitment of additional forces to as many as 8,000 troops, according to a senior diplomat at NATO headquarters here.
As he announced an additional 7,000 more NATO troops, Mr. Rasmussen said there would be “more to come” but did not say when or which nations would contribute.