Friday, December 9, 2011

DTN News - AFGHAN WAR NEWS: U.S. Looks To NATO For Afghan Funding

Defense War News Updates: DTN News - AFGHAN WAR NEWS: U.S. Looks To NATO For Afghan Funding
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada / BRUSSELS, Belgium - December 9, 2011: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday pressed coalition allies to make concrete commitments to funding Afghan security forces over the next decade.

Speaking after a meeting in Brussels of foreign ministers from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and other coalition members, Mrs. Clinton said she was hopeful that the allies will come to NATO's summit in Chicago in May "prepared to pledge long-term funding" for the Afghan military and police.

"I encouraged our allies to better define NATO's enduring partnership with Afghanistan," Mrs. Clinton said, "including its post-2014 mission to support the Afghan national-security forces, and to provide a strong base on which Afghanistan can build a stable, peaceful future."

Afghan and allied officials in Kabul estimate the cost of maintaining the Afghan security forces—slated to reach 352,000 men by fall of 2012—at between $4 billion and $6 billion a year.

That is far beyond the means of the Afghan government. Without foreign assistance stretching over a decade, many Western and Afghan officials say, the Afghans won't be able to fill the security vacuum left by the planned pullout of most U.S.-led combat troops in 2014.

Many NATO allies have been perplexed by the U.S. drive over the past two years to bulk up the size of the Afghan military and police, voicing concerns that such a large force would be unsustainable—and complaining that they hadn't been consulted. Some of these nations now resent being asked to cough up hundreds of millions of dollars a year to pay for it, especially as European economies are reeling from the euro-zone debt crisis.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday that nations outside the Atlantic alliance, and outside the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, should help foot the bill. In addition to troops from NATO countries, the coalition in Afghanistan includes sizable forces from countries such as Australia, Georgia, Sweden, South Korea and New Zealand.

"We will finish the job to help create a secure Afghanistan—for our shared security," Mr. Rasmussen said. "But the whole international community has a stake in a stable and secure Afghanistan. And the whole international community must help achieve it."

An international conference uniting the NATO allies with countries including Russia, China, Iran and India, held Monday in the German city of Bonn, has already promised to provide financial aid to Afghanistan in the decade after 2014. Concrete commitments are slated to be made at a pledging conference in Tokyo in July.

In Brussels, at the two-day NATO conference that was attended Thursday by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Moscow and the alliance sparred over NATO's missile-defense plans, as well as NATO's role in toppling the Libyan regime.

NATO says its planned missile shield, which includes a new radar system to be deployed in Turkey, aims to protect Europe from Iran and other Middle Eastern threats. Russia, however, is seeking binding guarantees that the planned system wouldn't be used against it.

The two sides agreed to continue negotiations on the matter, even as NATO officials said the deployment of the missile-defense project will go ahead. Russia didn't repeat Thursday an earlier suggestion by its ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, that the missile dispute may be linked to Moscow's cooperation with the U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.

In his only comments on Afghanistan at the Brussels conference, Mr. Lavrov described the conflict there as "a challenge to our common security."

NATO's so-called Northern Distribution Network, which has greatly expanded over the past year and which runs through Russia and the Central Asian states, provides the coalition with an increasingly important alternative to Pakistani supply routes.

The NDN, which accounts for at least half of coalition supplies, turned into a vital lifeline after Pakistan closed its border to NATO convoys last month, in protest over the killing of 24 Pakistani troops in an errant U.S. airstrike near the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Mrs. Clinton on Thursday hailed the NDN as "a very good example of Russia-U.S. and Russia-NATO cooperation" that is "mutually beneficial to all of us."

Write to Yaroslav Trofimov at

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