NATO foreign ministers agree to extend Afghan mission beyond 2016 as the country continues to face “serious security challenges”
BRUSSELS (Belgium) – NATO foreign ministers and alliance partners have agreed to extend its mission in Afghanistan beyond 2016 as the country continues to face “serious security challenges.”
The Resolute Support mission is alliance’s key mission that trains, advises and assists Afghanistan’s security forces and institutions.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Afghan forces were doing well against Taliban rebels, benefiting from the current military training programmes launched in 2015 after the alliance ended its direct combat role.
“But Afghanistan continues to face serious security challenges. That is why today, ministers agreed to sustain the Resolute Support mission beyond 2016,” Stoltenberg said, without saying how much longer it would continue.
Stoltenberg said total contributions to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund now totalled $1.4 billion.
Afghan Foreign Minister, Salahuddin Rabbani, who participated in the meeting, expressed his appreciation for NATO Allies and Partners’ continued support to Afghanistan. Rabbani also briefed the Ministers on the Afghan National Unity Government’s continuing reforms to fight corruption, protect human rights and advance peace process.
The United Nations Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, the Secretary General of the European Union External Action Service and high level officials from Japan and South Korea also attended the meeting
Foreign Ministers, at the meeting, made clear that the Allies and Partners’ political, military and financial support for Afghanistan will endure.
US to maintain 9800 troops in Afghanistan through most of 2016
US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Washington had 9,800 soldiers in Afghanistan, accounting for the bulk of foreign troops in the Resolute Support Mission, and the number would fall to 5,500 in 2017.
“I will reiterate that America’s commitment to maintain 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through most of this year and 5,500 thereafter remains, with 3,400 assigned to NATO responsibilities” Kerry said.
After discussing the Resolute Support mission during the NATO’s Military Committee/Chiefs of Defense session in Brussels this week, Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said he detects among allied nations “a strong commitment to finish what they started” in Afghanistan.
“I think most NATO nations have invested quite a bit, and everybody is interested in landing this in a good place,” he said.
Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of the Resolute Support Mission, briefed the chiefs on the strategy in Afghanistan in 2016 and talked about the strategy for 2017, Dunford told reporters traveling with him.
UK announces support for Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces
The UK will continue to support the Afghanistan forces, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond announced at the NATO meeting of Foreign Ministers.
“The UK will provide £210 million to sustain its commitment of £70 million per year towards the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces – a strong signal of our enduring commitment to Afghanistan”, Philip Hammond said.
NATO Foreign Ministers and participants of the meeting also shared their resolute on Twitter:
— Kristian Jensen (@Kristian_Jensen) May 20, 2016
— Philip Hammond (@PHammondMP) May 20, 2016