Forsvarsminister Robert Gates har gitt et intervju til LA Times der han sier at de NATO-allierte i Sør-Afghanistan, Canada, Nederland og Storbritannia, ikke har lært seg hvordan man bekjemper opprørsbevegelser. Reaksjonen lot ikke vente på seg.

Men de som kjenner Gates, sier de vet at han ikke uttrykker seg på den måten.

According to the LA Times, Gates also raised doubts about countries that have sent significant numbers of combat troops to fight in the south, often in the face of widespread opposition at home.

«I’m worried we have some military forces that don’t know how to do counterinsurgency operations,» the paper quoted him as saying in an interview. «Most of the European forces, NATO forces, are not trained in counterinsurgency.»

In Britain, Conservative lawmaker Patrick Mercer said Gates’ reported comments were «bloody outrageous.»

«I would beg the Americans to understand that we are their closest allies, and our men are bleeding and dying in large numbers,» Mercer, a former British infantry officer, told The Associated Press.

«These sorts of things are just not helpful among allied nations.»

However, after meeting the U.S. ambassador in The Hague, Dutch Defense Minister Eimert van Middelkoop played down the issue.

«We assume this was a misunderstanding,» van Middelkoop told the Dutch broadcaster NOS. «This is not the Robert Gates we have come to know. It’s also not the manner in which you treat each other when you have to cooperate with each other in the south of Afghanistan.»

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer moved quickly to defend the allied troops.

Allies irked by reported Gates comments