Quiet farewell: NATO has ended its mission in Afghanistan | free press

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Brussels (AP) – NATO has tacitly ended its military operation in Afghanistan after nearly two decades.

As the German News Agency in Brussels has been confirmed by several diplomats and the military, the soldiers currently stationed in the country from countries like the US and Turkey are now completely under the control of the national chain of command.

The alliance’s bloodiest military operation to date is de facto history, it said. US forces alone lost more than 2,300 soldiers in the Hindu Kush. The Bundeswehr complained of 59 casualties.

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. At peak times, this consisted of more than 130,000 soldiers. She was also often involved in fighting by the Afghan government forces against the militant Islamist Taliban.

The mission “Resolute Support” followed in 2015 for training, advising and supporting the national security services in Afghanistan.

End of use not yet officially announced

According to information from the German News Agency, the fact that the end of the military operation has not yet been officially communicated has to do with the fact that the operation plan has not yet been formally set aside.

Another reason is that the US National Mission is still ongoing. US President Joe Biden had last announced that he would retire at the end of August. The United States had always stationed numerous soldiers in the country who were not part of NATO operations. This enabled them to provide the Afghan armed forces with military support that would not have been possible under the NATO mandate.

The soldiers under alliance command had been training and advising security forces since 2015. Since then, there has been no mandate for combat missions. The last German soldiers returned home on June 30.

Besides the Americans, Turks and Norwegians are also among the few foreign armed forces in the country. Turkey currently secures Kabul airport and the Norwegians operate a field hospital. Safe operation of the airport – along with medical care – is a precondition for embassies and international representations to stay in the country.

NATO reacted to US decision

In April, NATO decided to initiate the withdrawal from Afghanistan. The US, as the largest supplier of troops, had previously decided not to stay in the country any longer. For the partners, a continuation of the mission would only have been possible with significant additional costs and risks. At the start of the year, there were still some 10,000 regular soldiers from NATO and partner states in Afghanistan, including some 1,000 from Germany.

It is unclear what will happen in Afghanistan after the complete withdrawal of Western troops. Since US and NATO forces began to withdraw in early May, the security situation has deteriorated. The militant Islamist Taliban have overrun more than a quarter of districts in several offensives since early May and have infiltrated several provincial capitals. It is feared that the Taliban could take full power in the country shortly after the end of the US mission. For the fledgling democracy in Afghanistan, with its advancements in women’s rights and media freedom, such a development could be the fatal blow.

In response to criticisms of the withdrawal decision, NATO has repeatedly replied that it will continue to provide financial support and organize training camps for Afghan special forces abroad in the future. Ideally, the first training units should start this month.