NATO countries pledge 7,000 more troops for Afghanistan
The NATO secretary-general announced the increase in troops Friday. The forces will come from 25 NATO countries.
NATO countries are responding positively to President Obama's plan to ramp up the international counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan, committing to sending 7,000 more troops to complement the 30,000 additional US forces that Mr. Obama announced Tuesday.
The 7,000 NATO forces announced at a meeting of the alliance's foreign ministers in Brussels Friday does not yet match the 10,000 additional international forces that the Obama administration is said to be seeking. That number, when joined with the new US forces set to begin arriving in January, would add up to the 40,000 additional troops that the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has called for.
But NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen suggested at the meeting that the 7,000 forces from 25 countries was not the limit of what NATO countries would contribute, predicting there were "more to come."
The NATO contribution topped a figure of 5,000 additional forces that Mr. Rasmussen had cited just before Obama's Tuesday evening speech. The higher number announced Friday appeared designed to underscore both alliance unity over the Afghanistan mission and support for Obama's strategy of weakening the Taliban while training more Afghan security forces.
"The strongest message in the room today was solidarity," Rasmussen said following the foreign ministers' meeting. "Nations are backing up their words with deeds."
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton praised countries such as Britain and Italy that have already announced more troops, while reminding her colleagues that "this is our fight together, and we must finish it together."