December 3rd, 2009
07:05 PM ET

NATO allies mull resources for Afghan transition

Update: December 4, 7:32 a.m. ET: Non-U.S. nations operating under the NATO command in Afghanistan have promised to send 7,000 more troops to Afghanistan, NATO's secretary-general said Friday.

BRUSSELS, Belgium – Even as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives at NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss fresh troop contributions for Afghanistan, NATO allies are already discussing how to hand the country back to Afghanistan.

In the wake of President Obama's announcement that the U.S. will send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, NATO spokesman James Appathurai says the alliance already has commitments from other members for at least 5,000 troops. Other officials from NATO and ISAF put the figure closer to 7,000 based on promises made in private, but not yet announced.

A major concern among NATO allies is how the additional troops will create conditions where Afghanistan will be ready to protect itself.  Appathurai cited a “significant shortfall” of trainers to train Afghan army and police, a key component in stabilizing the country.   Without help from NATO allies to train those forces, he said it will be harder to make the transition to Afghan control by the July 2011 drawdown of U.S. forces announced by Obama. Supplying trainers and other resources to build the Afghan army and police force could also provide an alternative to some countries reluctant to send more combat troops.

The need for transition to Afghan-led security, and the resources needed to make that happen, will be a primary focus Friday when Clinton meets with NATO allies. Noting that every country with troops in Afghanistan wants to see an endgame, NATO say "transition keeps everyone in the boat."

Diplomats say that at meetings on Friday, NATO members will endorse the U.S. approach and expect that there will be a number of additional troop contributions that have not yet been announced. 

There will be a strong message to Afghan President Hamid Karzai  about what his government needs to do going forward, specificially to crack down on corruption.

On that front, ISAF officials say international  forces may take on a new role in Afghanistan - gathering actionable intelligence on corrupt Afghan officials, which they would pass on to the new Afghan government to act on. These officials point to polls that show the Afghan peoples’ No. 1 concern is corruption. Collecting evidence on corrupt officials and helping the goverment crack down on them, officials say, falls within ISAF's mandate to  “remove malign influences” from Afghanistan.

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