US, NATO allies wrangle over troop levels in Afghanistan | Nation – Alabama News

US, NATO allies wrangle over troop levels in Afghanistan | Nation – Alabama News

BRUSSELS (AP) — More than 16 years into the Afghanistan war, the United States and its NATO allies wrangled anew on Thursday over how to meet the need for more troops to counter a resurgent Taliban and help Afghan forces break a stalemate in the fight.

At a meeting in Brussels, NATO agreed to send more forces in response to commanders’ requests for as many as 3,000 troops to train and work alongside Afghan security forces. That number does not include an expected contribution of almost 4,000 American forces, divided between the NATO mission and America’s counterterrorism operations against Taliban, al-Qaida and Islamic State militants in Afghanistan.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said 15 countries “have already pledged additional contributions.” He expected more commitments to come, but confusion about America’s plans may have held back some countries.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said at a news conference after the meeting that he was pleased by allies’ willingness to contribute more.

“We still have a few gaps and nations are stepping up,” Mattis said. “We’ve filled 70 percent of those gaps right now and I’m very, very optimistic that based on what I heard here we’ll be filling the rest.”

Mattis added that upon returning to Washington, he will consult with U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and then will submit a recommended new Afghanistan strategy to President Donald Trump. “We will refine U.S. troop numbers at that time, within that framework,” he said.

Asked how much longer the war is likely…

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