The top U.S. military officer says NATO should be prepared to move fast to deploy additional forces if President Trump and other heads of states agree to bolster the alliance’s mission in Afghanistan, where government forces are locked in a stalemate with the Taliban.
“What I asked my counterparts to do today is be prepared to act quickly,” Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday after a meeting with NATO’s military leaders. “If the political decision is to do more, let’s do more as fast as we can.”
The decision is urgent because Afghanistan is entering the so-called fighting season, when snow melts and mountains become passable, allowing the Taliban to increase attacks.
“We’d like to see if we (can) contribute to the Afghans’ success in the summer of ’17,” Dunford told a small group of reporters as he flew back to the United States after the meeting.
Wednesday’s meeting will help set the stage for next week’s gathering of NATO leaders, including Trump, in Brussels. The White House has said the president will make a decision on whether to increase U.S. forces in Afghanistan after that meeting.
Dunford and other NATO leaders did not discuss numbers, but the top commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Nicholson, has said several thousand more troops are needed to turn the tide of war there. He has described the war with the Taliban as a stalemate.
The additional troops would allow Nicholson to provide more advisers to Afghan forces. The U.S. and its allies are also providing some air support to Afghan forces.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Jim Michaels