NATO Members Waiting for Obama’s Troop Decision Before Sending More of Their Own to Afghanistan

October 23, 2009 - 5:01 AM
Two NATO members said Friday they will not send more troops to Afghanistan unless its Nov. 7 presidential runoff creates a legitimate government and until President Barack Obama decides on a new strategy there.
NATO, Gates, McChrystal

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, speaks with U.S. Military commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal, right, during a round table meeting of NATO defense ministers in Slovakia on Friday Oct. 23, 2009. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Bratislava, Slovakia (AP) - Two NATO members said Friday they will not send more troops to Afghanistan unless its Nov. 7 presidential runoff creates a legitimate government and until President Barack Obama decides on a new strategy there.
 
Dutch Defense Minister Eimert Van Middelkoop said his country, with 2,160 troops in Afghanistan, is awaiting the final election results "because the legitimacy of the Afghan government is key," as well as a decision by the Obama administration.
 
"I think most countries are waiting for the American decisions," van Middelkoop said at a meeting in Bratislava of the defense ministers of the 28 NATO countries.
 
The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrytal, was briefing NATO ministers -- including U.S. Defense Minister Robert Gates -- on his view of the war in Afghanistan at the meeting.
 
Danish Defense Minister Soeren Gade said allies won't increase troop levels until they're assured the new government in Kabul is committed to the NATO goals.
 
"I think whoever is going to send more troops to Afghanistan will put up some conditions," said Gade, whose country has 690 soldiers in Afghanistan.
 
"They need to see the new Afghan president and say: 'If we send more troops to your country, you have to deal with this, this and this.' We have to make sure the new government in Afghanistan are committed to their job before we send any more troops to Afghanistan."
 
Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung of Germany said he also doesn't expect his country to increase its troop numbers in Afghanistan when the soldiers' mandate from the German parliament comes up for renewal in December. The existing mandate allows the deployment of a maximum 4,500 soldiers, and Germany currently has just over 4,200 troops in Afghanistan.
 
Gates said he will prod NATO for more economic and security aid to Afghanistan while trying to sidestep the simmering international debate over sending more troops to the fight.