Afghanistan war: Brown's call signals NATO ready to boost forces
Britain's Gordon Brown on Friday called on NATO countries to send 5,000 more troops for Afghanistan war. It's one sign that NATO may be willing to commit more forces to that war than expected.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, one of President Obama's strongest allies in the Afghanistan war, turned up the heat on NATO allies Friday, saying he expects them to deploy as many as 5,000 additional forces.Skip to next paragraph
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His comments come among some other indications that NATO may be willing to contribute more troops to Afghanistan than previously expected.
Mr. Brown said Friday he is sending envoys to several allied nations to persuade them to reaffirm their commitment to the eight-year war by deploying more troops. His comments on BBC Radio, coming weeks before Mr. Obama is expected to announce his plans, could help reinvigorate NATO commitment to Afghanistan.
"I believe I can persuade countries, who said only a few weeks ago they would send no more troops to Afghanistan, that if we are training Afghan forces and partnering, and if there is a way forward that allows troops to come home over time, it's right for them to contribute troops as well," Brown said, adding, "And so burden-sharing will happen."
Brown's comments came after the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, expressed strong reservations to the White House about committing more American forces amid deepening fears that the government of President Hamid Karzai was too corrupt to be a reliable partner in the war. The comments, expressed in two classified cables leaked to the Washington Post, have shaken the resolve of some American officials, in that they come from an ambassador and former military commander who knows Afghanistan well.
An uptick in NATO support?
Many European nations have been reluctant to commit to more troops to Afghanistan, given waning support for the war in their own countries and the absence of a decision from Obama. But some officials say that may be changing as Obama's decision time grows near.
"There's very definitely an expectation of a substantial contribution coming from NATO," says an American diplomat in Europe.
Some of the shift in attitude may have been influenced by US Gen. Stanley McChrystal's last-minute pitch to an informal meeting of NATO defense ministers in Bratislava, Slovakia, last month. McChrystal's counterinsurgency plan for Afghanistan envisions a need for about 40,000 additional troops. Since that meeting, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has appeared to favor greater NATO commitment.