Afghanistan war: Why US disappointed by Germany troop levels

Germany announced it would to send up to 850 troops, to Afghanistan, one day after French President Sarkozy said he would send no more troops. The US had hoped for a much larger commitment.

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The United States may be preparing for an Afghan surge, but not all NATO allies are on board.

US President Barack Obama's surge of 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan counts on NATO sending as many as 10,000 additional troops. But on Monday, France told the US – as it has several times before – that it will not send additional troops. The announcement was seen as a snub to both the US and to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is hosting an international conference in London this week on Afghanistan's future.

As violence reaches record levels in Afghanistan, the war has become increasingly hard for European capitals to support. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was mindful of that when she announced Tuesday that Germany would send only 500 troops, with another 350 on "flexible reserve." They will complement the 4,300 German troops already in Afghanistan. Hoping to reach a compromise that will placate her American counterparts, Chancellor Merkel also announced an additional $500 million in development funds, according to the German magazine Der Spiegel.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, was even less forthcoming, saying “France will not send another single soldier," reports Britain’s Sky News. But Mr. Sarkozy reaffirmed France’s commitment to keeping its 3,300 troops in Afghanistan. He also suggested that France might send non-combat personnel to help with the training of Afghan security forces, adds Agence France-Presse (AFP)

NATO's underwhelming commitment is likely to complicate Obama’s Afghanistan surge, experts warn, and expose a fissure over how to proceed in the war-torn country. The 113,000 coalition troops in Afghanistan, roughly half of whom are American, are not enough, a NATO commander warned last October: “To really complete the shape, clear, hold, build, we need at least two additional brigades of coalition forces, somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 troops," said Maj. Gen. Mart de Kruif.

But two other important allies, the Netherlands and Canada, are also grappling with their future in Afghanistan. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said that Canada, which has 2,800 troops in Afghanistan, will withdraw in 2011. And the Dutch, who have 2,000 troops deployed, may decide in just weeks to bring their operations to a close by the year’s end, reports Canada’s CTV News.

Disappointed US officials have warned that NATO's failure to pony up could undermine overall efforts to stabilize Afghanistan, reports the Washington Post. The US says it needs – and was counting on – more NATO troops to train the Afghanistan police and the Army.


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