NATO members not honoring alliance commitments

U.S. Army advisors train Afghan national policemen at Forward Operating Base Ramrod, March 18, 2010.

From Tom Bowman, NPR:  A few weeks ago, hundreds of artillery troops and air defense artillery soldiers from Fort Sill in Oklahoma and Fort Campbell in Kentucky started heading over to Afghanistan. They weren’t part of the so-called surge in combat troops. Instead, Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed orders for them to work as trainers because European nations were too slow in helping out.

"We’re still not getting NATO able to force-generate and deploy forces in the numbers that we need," says Army Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who leads the training effort in Afghanistan. "So Gates said, ‘OK then, I’m going to give you another unit.’ "

It was the second time this year Gates said OK to more American trainers because NATO wasn’t picking up the slack. …

That’s annoying some members of Congress.

"NATO members who for whatever reason do not send additional combat troops or who intend to reduce their combat troop presence in the near future should at least be willing to provide trainers who operate away from the heavy fighting," Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who heads the Armed Services Committee, said at a recent hearing. …

The reason for the delay, says Caldwell, is that NATO is not as agile at deploying forces as the United States is. "Some nations are taking six to nine [months] to a year to be able to tell me before they can get their forces up and moving and coming here to be trainers," he says. …

But Caldwell says the need for trainers will continue to increase by the hundreds, right through March 2012. That’s because he’s now looking to open more specialized schools for the Afghan troops that will one day turn them into a truly independent force.  (photo: Getty)

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