NATO’s military operation in Afghanistan is history – but not its support for the country’s armed forces. Special forces are now trained in the closest alliance state.
Ankara (AP) – Shortly after the end of its training mission in Afghanistan, NATO launched the first training program for soldiers from abroad.
According to information from the German news agency from Ankara, members of the Afghan special forces have flown to Turkey for a course. It is intended as the beginning of regular training opportunities outside Afghanistan.
A NATO spokesman in Brussels confirmed the start of the training program to the dpa, but declined to comment on the location and details for security reasons. “In addition to continued funding and diplomatic presence, NATO’s continued support to Afghanistan includes training Afghan special forces outside the country,” he said. The training has already started.
Assistance also insured after a military mission
The basis of continued NATO support for Afghan government forces is a decision by Chancellor Angela Merkel and the heads of state and government of the other 29 alliance states. At their summit in June, they promised the country that they would continue to provide aid after the military operation. “We reaffirm our determination to stand with Afghanistan, its people and its institutions to promote security and maintain the hard-won progress of the past two decades,” the closing statement said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized this line again on Tuesday after a meeting with Afghan President Aschraf Ghani. “The security situation in Afghanistan remains a major challenge,” he said.
US withdraws troops
The end of NATO’s military operation in Afghanistan was decided in April after the US, as the largest supplier of troops, decided to no longer stay in the country. How things will continue in the country, even after the complete withdrawal of Western troops, is unclear. The security situation has deteriorated significantly since the beginning of May. The militant Islamist Taliban have conquered numerous districts during several offensives and have infiltrated several provincial capitals. It is feared that they may take full power in the country in the medium term. For the fledgling democracy in Afghanistan, with its advancements in women’s rights and media freedom, such a development could be the fatal blow.
NATO’s operation in the Hindu Kush began after the September 11, 2001 attacks at the request of the US to end terrorism emanating from Afghanistan. From August 2003 to December 2014, the alliance led the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the country. It consisted of more than 130,000 soldiers at peak times and was often involved in fighting by the Afghan government forces against the Taliban. In 2015, “Resolute Support” was deployed to train, advise and support the national security services. Germany was one of the main troop contributors to the very end. The last German soldiers returned home on June 30 as a result of the withdrawal decision.