NATO takes over entire Afghanistan misson

NATO today took over full responsibility for the troops of all Alliance member states currently in Afghanistan:

Officials say the move will make the force more efficient, as it seeks to secure Afghanistan for reconstruction.

Some 10,000 US troops have come under the command of Gen David Richards from the UK.

The addition of US troops brings the total number of troops under Nato command in Afghanistan to about 31,000.

This is good news, and represents a major step forward for NATO.  A successful mission in Afghanistan (which is still not guaranteed) will boost the organisation’s credibility.

The cynic in me does wonder, though, just how effectively a British general will be able to ‘command’ US troops in practice.  I’m sure many of NATO’s member states will be watching with interest to see how well the US adapts to putting such a large number of its troops – who are currently engaged in combat missions – under the command of a foreign general.

2 thoughts on “NATO takes over entire Afghanistan misson”

  1. This is good news, and represents a major step forward for NATO.

    Actually, in one sense, I think it represents a major step backwards. As Westhawk put it:

    So, problem solved! The Taliban knocked NATO back on its heels this summer. The Canadian and British soldiers should be proud of their bravery and their professionalism. However, NATO’s ministers and politicians should be ashamed that the European continent was not able to find one infantry battalion, ten helicopters and three tactical transport aircraft during the battles in August and September.

    Why bother when there are 10,000 Yanks and their gear nearby?

    And as he also says immediately afterwards:

    Not to worry, though, the Americans will protect their interests. Today, the NATO command in Kabul announced that the U.S. is sending a four-star general to take command of both NATO and U.S. operations in Afghanistan. General Dan McNeil, USA commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2002-2003. The general will soon command a combined NATO-U.S. force numbering over 42,500 soldiers.

    Which resolves the issue in your last paragraph.

  2. Interesting. I’m not sure I agree about it being a step backwards as such – after all, the US troops aren’t going to be there to bolster the NATO mission (as it was last week). They’re going to be carrying on with much the same mission as before, just under NATO command, thus expanding the NATO mission.

    A little digging has revealed that General McNeil isn’t due to take command in Afghanistan until February next year, which sounds roughly consistent with standard personnel rotations. So, it will not only be interesting to see how General Richards commands until then – it’ll be interesting to see who replaces General McNeil after his tour of duty. Another US general, or someone else from NATO.

    Utter speculation I know but given the Polish presence in Afghanistan, and the enthusiasm with which they’ve supported America and Britain — I wonder if NATO is ready for a Polish general to command the force?

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