WASHINGTON: A Nato-led training mission in Afghanistan next year is likely to total about 12,000 soldiers, including about 8,000 Americans, while some 1,800 Americans will conduct counter-terrorism missions, a senior US military official said yesterday.
The United States would also be keen to see participation in the counter-terrorism effort by nations with well-trained special forces, such as Britain or Australia, the official said. The 12,000 figure for the Nato training mission given by the official on the sidelines of a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels was at the high end of planning assumptions previously spoken of in Nato corridors.
US President Barack Obama said last week that the United States will cut its force in Afghanistan to 9,800 from the start of next year, split between soldiers who will form part of the Nato training mission and others who will be part of a US mission to combat Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.
The United States had not said how many soldiers would be in each mission, “but my assessment is that somewhere on the order of 8,000 will be part of the Nato mission ... and the overall number of 12,000 did include as a planning figure 8,000 US and 4,000 Nato,” he said. Lack of clarity about the counter-terrorism mission until now had hindered detailed discussions on what Britain or Australia might want to contribute, the US official said. Reuters