The North Atlantic Treaty Organization announced on Thursday that it will be sending several thousand more troops to Afghanistan, saying they did not see an end to the operations “in the near future.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told press that the 13,000 troop force currently occupying Afghanistan was “too low,” and that several thousand more troops will be added to operation “Resolute Support” through 2017 “and beyond.”
“Our military authorities have requested a few thousand more troops for the mission in Afghanistan and today I can confirm that we will increase our presence in Afghanstan,” the Secretary General said Thursday.
“We do not believe that this operation in Afghanistan will be simple and we do not think it will be peaceful this year or next or in the near future,” he continued.
Stoltenberg has previously called Afghanistan a “generational” effort, rather than a “one-off event,” speaking in February.
The Secretary General said that 15 out of 29 NATO member nations have pledged to support the troop presence increase, and that he is expecting more to join.
While he emphasized several times that the NATO troops were not there for combat, but rather “training, assisting, and advising,” of Afghani troops, he also said that the move was intended to break what he called a battlefield “stalemate.”
Earlier this month U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis indicated that the United States was “not winning” its two-decade war, and requested troop levels to be adjusted. Currently, United States forces account for over half of the total NATO allied troops in the country.
“Its not like you can declare a war over,” Mattis said. “What is the price of not fighting this war? And in that case we’re not willing to pay that price.”
British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has said that the United Kingdom would be in Afghanistan “for the long haul,” and has committed to sending troops to bolster the NATO effort.
NATO defense spending is also on the rise, which Stoltenberg said he was “glad” about.
“I’m glad to say that we expect this will be the third consecutive year of accelerating defense spending increases across European allies and Canada, with a 4.3 percent real increase in defense spending,” he said.
The NATO Secretary General said the organization will “always honor” their soldiers who “paid the ultimate price.” While at least 2,000 U.S. soldiers have died in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion, it is Afghani civilians who have born the brunt of the violence resulting from the invasion, with at least 30,000 killed violently in a conservative estimate by Brown University’s Watson Institute.