2nd Feb 2023

Nato chief presses for more police trainers in Afghanistan

  • Mr Rasmussen says Afghanistan needs at least 500 more police trainers (Photo: EUobserver)

Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday (1 February) said that roughly 500 more police trainers are needed in Afghanistan, echoing similar calls from the EU's own mission on the ground.

"Training is an investment in the transition of Afghanistan and I will press hard for this," Mr Rasmussen said during a press conference in Brussels detailing the agenda of an informal meeting of Nato defence ministers due to take place in Istanbul on 4-5 February.

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He said some 100 police and 21 army training units – each comprising four to five trainers – are still needed.

"I will make a demand from all Nato members and partners to eliminate the deficiencies of training mission in Afghanistan," he said.

At the same time, a demand by general Stanley McChrystal, in charge of the multinational force in Afghanistan (ISAF) for 40,000 extra troops was roughly met. "From that point of view, the process has been a huge success," Mr Rasmussen argued.

The US is currently deploying 30,000 extra soldiers, while other allied countries have committed themselves to send over 7,000 troops. By the end of the year, the international military presence will exceed 100,000.

Mr Rasmussen's calls for extra trainers echoed similar requests made last week by the chiefs of the EU's own police training mission in Afghanistan, Eupol. European countries committed themselves in 2007 to sending 400 trainers, but the mission is still short of about 100 staff.

Asked if his calls for more police trainers will not compete with those of Eupol, as 22 out of Nato's 28 member states are also EU countries, Mr Rasmussen said the two were "complementary." "We appreciate all the contributions," he added.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic, both a Nato and EU member, on Monday announced it would send an extra 15 trainers of Afghan police and some 40 soldiers to protect a Polish-run military base in the violent south-east of the country. So far, Prague has deployed around 500 soldiers in Afghanistan.

Another contribution to the training mission – 60 staff to train both police and army - will come from Turkey. Despite being Nato's second largest military power after the US, Ankara has refused to send combat troops to Afghanistan, also a Muslim country. Its contribution to the ISAF mission is primarily in the field of reconstruction and peace-keeping.

An international conference on the way forward in Afghanistan took place in London last week, with world leaders agreeing to start handing over security duties to Afghan forces in early 2011 and finish the process within five years.

The conference was called to help Nato allies chart a roadmap out of Afghanistan amid rising casualties and falling public support in what is now the alliance's flagship mission. The military intervention in Afghanistan started in 2002, in response to the attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001.

It succeeded in ousting the Taliban from power, but not the insurgency, which has now spilled over to Pakistan and has seen growing attacks on Kabul and in areas which had been secure in the past.

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