NATO to increase troop levels in Afghanistan


BRUSSELS, June 29 (TNS): NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday confirmed that the organization will increase its presence in Afghanistan.

Addressing a press conference ahead of the Defense Ministers meeting in Brussels, he said, “Our military authorities have requested a few thousand more troops for the Mission in Afghanistan and today, I can confirm that we will increase our presence in Afghanistan.”

He said, “Fifteen nations have already pledged additional contributions to Resolute Support Mission and I look forward to further announcements from other nations.”

Asked whether he thought sending in more troops to Afghanistan would improve security, he said, “The organization sees a need to increase its support to Afghanistan in three areas namely strengthening the special operations forces; supporting the development of the Afghan air force and stepping up efforts to train the leadership and educate officers.”

“We have seen that the Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan have been very professional and very important in the fight against the Taliban and we are now working on how we can further strengthen the Special Operations Forces of the Afghan Army,” he said.

He said, “The air force was important in the fight against terrorist groups and the Taliban; and for medical evacuations and providing support to the armed forces on the ground.”

“Again, this is not about turning back into a combat mission, but this is about adjusting, strengthening the train, assist and advice mission we have in Afghanistan, supporting and helping the Afghans,” he said.

He said, “We all agree that in the long run what we need, the only sustainable and lasting solution in Afghanistan is a political and negotiated solution.”

“Of course, we look forward to the final decisions by the U.S when it comes to the U.S troop contributions to our mission in Afghanistan,” he added.