Mens den nye Stoltenberg-regjeringen vurderer om den skal trekke spesialsoldatene ut av Enduring Freedom og kun delta i den NATO-ledete ISAF-styrken, har Donald Rumsfeld foreslått det stikk motsatte: At ISAF og Enduring Freedom skal slås sammen.
Forslaget ble fremsatt på et forsvarsministermøte i uken som gikk. Det kommer neppe beleilig på den nye regjeringen. Stoltenberg kan trøste seg med at det heller ikke var populært hos andre europeiske forsvarsministre. Men det er ikke lett for europeerne å avslå det uten videre.
Engasjementet i Afghanistan er godkjent av NATO. Det var første gang artikkel 5 om alle for en, en for alle, ble brukt. Amerikanerne har tatt alle tapene, og står i første rekke. De andre NATO-landene har vært uhyre trege med å oppfylle selv beskjedne troppekvoter.
Germany, France, Britain and other European countries said Tuesday that they strongly opposed an American plan for NATO to become involved in counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan.
Meeting with NATO defense ministers here at the start of a two-day conference, the U.S. defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said he would urge the military alliance to expand its role beyond security and peacekeeping and consider joining combat operations against the Taliban-led insurgency.
Although Rumsfeld emphasized that the 20,000 American troops would continue to handle the counterinsurgency mission «for a time,» he said NATO should consider deploying troops to Afghanistan’s eastern border region, where much of the fighting is occurring.
He added, «Over time, it would be nice if NATO developed counterterrorism capabilities, which don’t exist at the present time.»
The Pentagon would like to draw down the presence of American troops, who have come under increasing attack from insurgents since the spring.
Germany’s defense minister, Peter Struck, said on German radio and television that merging NATO’s peacekeeping mission with the American combat operation would fundamentally change NATO’s role in Afghanistan and «would make the situation for our soldiers doubly dangerous and worsen the current climate in Afghanistan.»
Hvordan det kan forverre situasjonen er vanskelig å fatte, men at tyskerne er ekstremt sensitive for tap av soldater, er velkjent.
NATOs mandat utløper til våren. USA ønsker at NATO skal overta ansvaret for hele Afghanistan-operasjonen. USA har hendene fulle i Irak. Europeisk vrangvilje i Afghanistan kan føre til at USA nedgraderer betydningen av NATO. Hvor tjent er Europa og Norge med det?
NATO took command of the International Security Assistance Force in August 2003, the first time that the U.S.-led military alliance took on a mission away from its traditional base of Europe. Its primary role has been to 2_kommentartain security, expand the authority of President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan outside the capital of Kabul and assist in the reconstruction of the country.
Meanwhile, American troops have 2_kommentartained a separate operation with 20,000 troops aimed 2_kommentarly at defeating Al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents, chiefly in the south and east of the country.
With NATO’s mandate scheduled to expire next spring, American officials are urging the alliance to expand its role, in part because of the urge to reduce the U.S. troop presence.
At least initially, Rumsfeld told reporters traveling with him, NATO would not replace American troops in a combat role, but handle security and other noncombat duties, as it does elsewhere in the country. Then he added that he hoped NATO would develop counterterrorism capabilities similar to the Americans’.
A senior Defense Department official declined to provide the Americans’ preferred timetable for NATO to take over the Afghan operation. But this week’s meetings in Berlin are aimed at overcoming resistance about taking on a combat role in Afghanistan.