NATO Troop Increase – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has decided to send more troops to Afghanistan. In 2014 the mission of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) ended with the hope that the Afghan security forces would be able to degrade the Taliban to such an extent that all troops (U.S. and NATO) could depart Afghanistan except for a small advisory and assistance package in Kabul. Not so much.
Afghan Security Situation – A ‘Stalemate’. The security situation in Afghanistan has gotten worse since the downsizing of NATO and U.S. troops in the 2013-2014 period. The Taliban have threatened provincial capitals over the past two years (Lashagar, Kunduz, Tarin Kowt) and control or contest many of the rural districts. The Afghan security forces are firmly in control of all the provincial capitals and major urban areas. General Nicholson, commander of the Resolute Support mission, says that the situation is basically a stalemate. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis says we are not winning.
Current Troop Levels. Currently there are about 8,400 U.S. troops and about 4,000 NATO (and other partner nations) troops in Afghanistan. They are primarily there as ‘advisors’ working with the Afghan Ministry of Defence (MoD), Ministry of Interior (MoI), selected national-level training and education institutions, and at the regional level with the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP). The advisors at the regional level are conducting the ‘train, advise, and assist’ mission with the ANA corps and ANP police zones.
Strategic Plan in Works. The U.S. is doing a review of its strategic plan for Afghanistan and that should be finalized and released within the month. There are indications that the U.S. will increase its troop levels by 4,000 personnel. The NATO troop increase (rumored to be about 3,000) has been coordinated in a series of meetings with the United States over the past several months. There are 39 nations contributing to the stabilization of Afghanistan – many of these nations have been involved since the early days of the conflict (starting in 2001). NATO has already decided to fund the Afghan security forces through 2020 with the hope that the Afghan government can eventually generate enough revenue to fund the majority of its security expenses.
Where Will Additional Advisors Work? The increased advisors will likely be put to work at the ANA corps and ANP police zones. Many will be assigned to work in an Expeditionary Advisory Package (EAP) while some will work at the ministerial level in the Kabul area.
NATO Pledges Continued Support for Afghanistan Mission, Department of Defense, June 29, 2017.
“US, NATO allies wrangle over troop levels in Afghanistan”, Military Times, June 29, 2017.