From the New York Times: President Obama made a convincing case last December for sending an additional 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan. Most of those new forces, plus 58,000 already in country, would fight the Taliban. A smaller number would mold Afghan recruits into an indigenous Army and National Police force that could in time assume responsibility for protecting their country so the Americans and NATO allies could go home.
That handoff, so central to Mr. Obama’s strategy, has little chance of succeeding unless NATO gets more military trainers on the ground. Of the 5,200 trainers the United States and its NATO allies in January agreed were needed, about only 2,700 are there. All but 300 or so are Americans. …
General [William] Caldwell has brought a new coherence and purpose to the mission by revamping the Afghan Army leadership program and standardizing police instruction, among other innovations. And he has managed to double his number of trainers from 1,300 when he started to roughly 2,700 today. But he — more to the point, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and General McChrystal — is having a very hard time getting the rest of NATO to deliver on commitments.
NATO agreed that non-American members would provide half of the 5,200 trainers. Since December, those capitals have pledged to send only 1,000 trainers, and they have been very slow to deliver. Mr. Gates is now expected to send Americans to cover 600 of these slots for 90 days."
From Thom Shanker: An official at NATO headquarters in Brussels said late Monday that the American deployment plan was designed to not let European countries “off the hook” in fulfilling their obligations.
Another alliance diplomat predicted that the temporary additional deployment of trainers might give the Obama administration leverage in asking European countries to fulfill their commitments. Officials said that if allies accelerated the arrival of their trainers, some of the American personnel might not have to be deployed. (photo: Getty)