NATO chief's call for 'fresh approach'Posted in Political Bytes Posted on September 16, 2009 11:21 AM | Permalink
By James Cudmore, CBC News
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen. (Thierry Charlier/Associated Press)
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussenis calling on NATO nations to increase their presence in Afghanistan.
In a video posted on his NATO blog, Rasmussen said the alliance mission requires more trainers, more equipment and more funding in order to increase the ability of the Afghan government to defeat the Taliban.
Rasmussen said NATO's "fresh approach" involves focusing on rebuilding Afghan institutions — an approach shared by Canada.
But, he said it's too early for troop-contributing countries to start quitting the mission.
"To put it bluntly, nations will have to increase their contributions so that we can build a stable Afghanistan. We will have to do more so we can — eventually — do less," he said.
The remarks come as Prime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated his position yesterday that Canada's military mission would end, completely, in 2011.
Canada's military has already started to focus efforts on training Afghan soldiers and police men — the same effort advocated by the NATO secretary general.
But that effort requires more than just work in a classroom. Canadian troops are embedded in Afghan police and army units and often see as much, if not more, regular combat as the Canadian infantry battle group does.
But the Canadian government has said the military mission will end in 2011 and that leaves little room for embedded military trainers to continue their work.
In his video note today, Rasmussen said that unless NATO nations step up, Afghanistan could once more fall to a Taliban regime and become a safe haven for terrorists.
"We have successfully denied terrorists a safe haven from where terrorist can launch attacks and spread instability across Central Asia. We will not give them this option again.
"To reach that goal we need more trainers equipment and funding."
The NATO secretary general called for solidarity among NATO nations, which he said is needed "now, more than ever."
Harper will discuss the mission in Afghanistan in a 42-minute meeting with US
President Barack Obama today.
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