NATO chief warns that if troops leave Afghanistan ‘too soon’

Brussels – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned on Tuesday that the military organization could pay a heavy price for leaving Afghanistan early.

US officials said Trump ordered the Pentagon to reduce the number of US troops in the early 2021 conflict to about 2,500.

NATO has less than 12,000 soldiers from dozens of countries in Afghanistan who help train and advise the National Security Forces. The US military often makes up about half of that number, and a coalition of 30 countries relies heavily on the United States Armed Forces for transportation, logistics, and other assistance.

“Now we face a difficult decision. We have been in Afghanistan for almost 20 years, and no NATO ally wants to live longer than necessary. But at the same time, the cost of leaving too soon or in some unknown way can be very high, ”Stoltenberg said in a statement.

He said that the country is still “once again becoming a platform for international terrorists who are ready to plan and carry out attacks in our country.” [Islamic State] Could rebuild the terrorist caliphate lost in Syria and Iraq in Afghanistan. “

Just days after the US decision, Trump installed a new slate of loyalists in the Pentagon’s top positions, who share his frustration with the continuing military presence in war zones. Expected plans will reduce the number of US forces to nearly half by 15 January, leaving 2,500 soldiers in Afghanistan.

US officials said military leaders were briefed over the weekend about the planned evacuation and that an executive order is in operation but not yet given to commanders.

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NATO undertook an international security effort in Afghanistan in 2003, two years after ousting a US-led coalition to shelter former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. In 2014, it began to train and advise Afghan security forces, but gradually the troops pulled out with the US-Brocade Peace Accord.

Stoltenberg said that “with further US cuts, NATO will continue its mission to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces.” We are also committed to funding them through 2024. “

American soldiers serving with NATO at an outpost during a patrol against Islamic State militants in the eastern province of Nangarhar.Via Vakil Kohsar / AFP Getty Image

NATO’s security operation is its largest and most ambitious venture in the country. It was launched by the military alliance after activating its mutual defense clause – known as Article 5 – for the first time, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, all allies in support of the United States To mobilize

Stoltenberg said, “Hundreds of armies in Europe and beyond are standing shoulder to shoulder with American troops in Afghanistan and over a thousand of them have paid the ultimate price.”

“We moved into Afghanistan together. And when the time is right, we should leave together in a coordinated and orderly manner. I trust this commitment to our NATO allies, for our own safety.”

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