NATO to Increase Support for Afghanistan

NATO member countries have pledged to increase support to Afghanistan in 2017 and beyond, including placing troops in a “constellation” of sites around the country, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said. Speaking at the end of a ministerial meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, Carter said NATO will finalize plans at its summit next month in Warsaw to keep a stronger presence in the country to help the Afghan government. The alliance also has agreed to fully fund the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces through 2020. The US still plans to keep the previously announced troop level of 5,500 next year, down from 9,800 at the end of this year. “The United States will of course continue to lead the NATO effort in southern and eastern Afghanistan, and we will continue to provide coalition partners with sufficient enabling capabilities needed for their own presence, particularly in northern and western Afghanistan,” Carter said. NATO has shown there is “no doubt” about its commitment to help the country, he said. (See also: Keeping US Troops in Afghanistan.)