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NATO Hails Afghanistan Commitment

  • April 11th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

nato-james-appathura-150.jpgThe NATO alliance which leads the allied campaign in Afghanistan against Taliban militias, on Tuesday (10.4.07) strongly welcomed the commitment of additional Australian armed forces personnel to serve in the country.

That Australian commitment will start with a 300-strong special operations task group, plus an additional 75 RAAF personnel; the present overall contingent of 500 is expected to double in a year.

NATO SHARES AUSTRALIAN APPROACH

The official spokesperson for NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), James Appathurai (pictured), said the new input was “absolutely welcome”; the Australian approach indicated “backbone” in supporting a commitment with adequate strength; it was “very positive”, he told EU Australia Online.

“It was exactly the kind of thing that we believe in here at NATO.

“We believe that this is a job that needs doing, and with the appropriate resources.”

DEFLECTS CRITICISM OF SOME POWERS

He did not join in criticism of some of the European powers, like France, Germany, Italy or Spain, which had imposed caveats on their commitments, restricting the use of forces.

“This is a bit of a broad-brush and unfair accusation.

“Caveats on the use of forces are a problem; we would like to see them reduced, eliminated if possible.

“That’s not 100% realistic, but I can tell you all of the NATO countries have recently committed to a basic principle: in emergency situations their troops can go anywhere they need to in the country, and that has already been used.

“So in this critical demonstration of solidarity, we’ve made progress.”

In recent actions French aircraft have supported Canadian ground forces in the field, and Germany has sent additional Tornado reconnaissance aircraft.

REINFORCEMENTS

The allied operation has been reinforcing itself since its military commanders asked for more troops, at the time of the NATO heads of government meeting at Riga last November (See EUAustralia 27 and 30.11.06).

“The call for more is being met,” Mr Appathurai said.

“Since late November we have added over 7000 troops to the operation; it will total over 38 000 by the Summer, that’s not taking this Australian announcement into account, which will add to the total.”

This was being backed by the extension of reconstruction and development work, the United States alone making a recent commitment of $US 8-billion (A$9.68; dcerates.com).

“Overall we have stepped up our game; there’ll be more money for aid, more money for reconstruction, and many more boots on the ground.”

A TOUGH SUMMER COMING

What about intensified resistance last year, as allied forces, including Australians, penetrated more of the Taliban occupied areas in Southern Afghanistan?

With the Northern Summer approaching, more of that is expected.

“We can expect a tough summer,” he said.

“There will be bad days, but we are taking the initiative all over the country; the initiative is ours and we will keep pressing forward.”

OUTLINE OF ADDITIONAL FORCES

An outline of additional force commitments since November:

Australia. Initially the 375 commandos, other infantry and RAAF personnel, moving towards doubling the present commitment.

Bulgaria. Troop strength will be increased from 80 to 400 before the Northern Summer, to operate around Kandahar.

Czech Republic. Increasing from 120 to 225 with a field hospital being set up at Kabul.

Denmark. Increases under active consideration.

Germany. Recent despatch of an additional six Tornado aircraft, which have started operations.

Hungary. Present commitments will be extended, beyond 2008.

Latvia. An increase from 30 to over 150 set for 2008.

Lithuania, with 130 troops, is to deploy an extra 55 special forces.

New Zealand. Extension of the commitment to September 2008.

Norway. 150 ground forces now despatched.

Poland. 1200 troops have completed the process of deployment.

Turkey. Additional numbers as Turkey assumes regional command of the capital city area.

United Kingdom. 1400 troops announced in February.

United States. An additional light brigade of 3200.

Picture: NATO Spokesman James Appathurai; NATO AV

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