NATO’s mission in Afghanistan is beginning to see the support of member states wane in the face of casualties, a resurgent Taliban and additional costs associated with war. The L.A. Times notes that with over 40 nations participating in the International Security Assistance Force, many nations are reluctant to commit additional forces, especially to the dangerous Kandahar region of the south, where Canadian forces are fighting determined Taliban and insurgent forces resulting in 78 Canadian fatalities to date. Canada has threatened to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan unless its NATO allies provide support and relief for the Canadian troops in the south. Germany has already stated that it will not send its troops stationed in Afghanistan to the Kandahar region.
The United States announced last month that it would be sending an additional 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan and both Britain and Poland are expected to increase their troop levels at the present meeting of NATO defense ministers in Lithuania. This potential small influx of NATO forces is not an excellent show of NATO power or resolve; moreover it is placing the burden on certain NATO members who are both willing and unafraid to take casualties for the security of their country and their allies. Both Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates are campaigning tirelessly for NATO allied support in the 6-year old conflict in Afghanistan.
For a more in-depth look at the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, refer to the recently published Heritage article by Lisa Curtis and James Phillips. “Revitalizing U.S. Efforts in Afghanistan” addresses not only troop deployments and the ability of the U.S. to wage a successful campaign within the country, but also petroleum, central authority, relationships with neighboring states, specifically Pakistan and India, and international security threats originating from Iran and the tribal areas of Pakistan. The authors also address the resurging issue of narcotics and the opium industry, as well as the inadequate foreign aid programs that fail to address the needs of the Afghan people, especially those living in areas threatened by insurgents.