BRUSSELS -- European and other U.S. allies will contribute more than 5,000 new troops to the international force in Afghanistan, NATO's chief said Wednesday, declaring that the war is not America's alone.
Still, aside from Poland, the pledges came in small numbers from
small nations. European powers like France and Germany praised
President Barack Obama's speech on his new strategy for Afghanistan
but were silent on the offer of new troops.
Reacting to Obama's call for more help, a Polish official said
the government will likely send 600 combat-ready reinforcements,
mainly for patrolling and training, to beef up its existing
Albania pledged to increase its 250-member unit by 85 troops,
army trainers and medical workers, Prime Minister Sali Berisha
Spain's El Pais daily said the defense ministry was considering
adding 200 soldiers to its 1,000 contingent. Italy declared it
would do its part and Finland confirmed that it had been asked to
consider sending more troops and would do so next week.
The largest contributors - Britain, France and Germany - held
off on pledges of new troops, waiting for an Afghanistan conference
in London planned for late January.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown welcomed Obama's pledge of 30,000
extra U.S. troops, saying it would speed the job of training Afghan
security forces - which he said was a key to an eventual exit for
"It is absolutely crucial for our strategy that the Afghans
start to take control of security as soon as possible," Brown
Britain announced before Obama's speech it is sending 500 more
troops to Afghanistan, bringing its numbers there to 10,000.
French presidential spokesman Luc Chatel said President Nicolas
Sarkozy wanted to "give himself some time."
Earlier, Sarkozy commended Obama's speech as "courageous,
determined and lucid."
In Germany, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle praised Obama's
speech as supporting Germany's position that a political solution
backed by military support was the only way forward.
Speaking hours after Obama announced the deployment of 30,000
fresh U.S. troops to Afghanistan, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen
issued the strongest words of support.
"In 2010, the non-U.S. members of this mission will send at
least 5,000 more soldiers to this operation, and probably a few
thousand more," Fogh Rasmussen told reporters. "This is not just
America's war, what is happening in Afghanistan poses a clear and
present danger to the citizens of all our countries."
This will be in addition to the 38,000 troops allied nations
have there now, he said. Rasmussen did not specify where the troops
would come from and how many would be from Europe.
Westerwelle praised Obama for making clear that there must be an
end to the mission.
"We agree with the U.S. president, that there cannot be only a
military solution, but what we need is a political solution that is
supported by the military," Westerwelle said.
He and his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, said their
countries remained committed to building up and training the Afghan
The U.S. now has 71,000 troops in Afghanistan, while other NATO
members and allies collectively have 38,000 there. With the
reinforcements, the international forces will grow to more than
NATO To Provide 5,000 More Troops in Afghanistan