NATO Seeks More Forces For Afghanistan Amid Talks Of A 2008 Exit


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Ahead of a NATO summit in Riga, George W Bush is pressing NATO allies for more troop commitments to bolster forces in Southern Afghanistan that are as much as 20% below the levels NATO commanders feel are appropriate to accomplish their mission.

The forces are ostensibly to aid the reconstruction effort, but a resurgent Taliban force in the area requires that the committed forces also be combat ready -- something several fledging NATO nations, like Estonia, are unwilling or unprepared to commit to.

Meanwhile, some of the largest NATO nations, the U.S., Britain, and France are facing political situations that make further troop commitments difficult to impossible. Bush faces a Democratic congress, while Blair and Chirac are almost certainly on their way out in coming months.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, offered a glimmer of hope that committed forces would not face a protracted commitment:

"I would hope that by 2008, we will have made considerable progress -- with ... effective and trusted Afghan security forces gradually taking control," he said. But he insisted that any talk of withdrawals at present in Afghanistan was premature.

Personally, I think the political climate in the U.S. would support a "redeployment" of troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. The majority of Americans still believe the invasion of Afghanistan was the right thing to do. If they understood the level to which we've abandoned that mission, I believe an increase in troop levels would be demanded.

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