NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the new level of troops will be around 16,000 with the focus on training.
Kabul Welcomes NATO’s Decision To Send In More Troops
The Presidential Palace said the Afghan government welcomes NATO’s decision to send in more troops to the country.
“We have defined and strategic ties with US and NATO and we are jointly combating terrorism. They have announced their continued support to Afghan Defense and Security Forces,” President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman Shahussain Murtazawi said at a press conference on Wednesday.
This comes after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said that NATO and its allies will be sending in more troops to Afghanistan to tackle what he described as the threats of the Taliban and other insurgents. He said the total number of troops in the country will raise to about 16,000.
On Wednesday, Stoltenberg said ahead of the defense minister's meeting that "we’re going to stay in Afghanistan to train and help and support the Afghan forces so they can fight Taliban. So they can fight terrorist organisations. So they can stabilize their own country. And we have seen a lot of progress. There are many challenges, we see a lot of violence; there is a lot of uncertainty."
He went on to say that despite this, the Afghan forces are becoming more and more capable, more and more professional, and stronger.
"So they are able to respond every time the Taliban and the terrorists are attacking. We have seen that the Taliban has failed in reaching their main strategic goal: to control provincial capitals. And actually I think one of the reasons why we now see more high-profile attacks against civilians is that they have failed in their main goal to take control over provincial capitals."
He said: "So our message is that we will continue to support Afghan forces with training, assistance and advice, but also with funding. We are not returning to a combat mission. We strongly believe that in the long run it is a better solution that Afghan forces are responsible for security in their own country themselves, and that we provide support to them.
"But we are stepping up our support. We are increasing the number of NATO trainers in Afghanistan from roughly 13,000 to around 16,000 next year. And we will especially focus on training special operations forces, improving the air force of the Afghans, and also schools, or education - military academies and schools," he said.
Stoltenberg also said: "We are underlining again and again the importance of political reform. And building democratic institutions in Afghanistan, fighting corruption, and making sure that the democratic institutions are working as they should."
He said in line with this elections were a core element in a democratic society. "So therefore elections are important, and we think it is important that Afghanistan do whatever it can to be able to hold elections - both presidential and parliamentary elections."
"To do that, security is important, to be able to hold elections. What we are doing, NATO is doing to help, so it’s possible hold elections, or arrange elections in a secure environment, is to train the Afghan forces. We are not there in a combat operation anymore, but we are there to enable the Afghans.
"So the best thing we can do to help securing the elections is to step up our efforts to train Afghan police and security forces so they can make sure that it’s possible to hold elections in a secure environment. And that’s exactly what we’re doing when we now are increasing our presence in Afghanistan - to train more Afghan soldiers and police."
Thursday's session at the Brussels meeting is expected to focus on Afghanistan.