Europe-NATO React Positively to Obama Troop Surge

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown welcomes the increase, which will bring US troops strength in Afghanistan to around 100,000



There has been initial positive reaction from Europe and NATO to President Barack Obama's announcement that he will send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and al Qaida.  

It was a long and eagerly-awaited decision - certainly in Britain, the second-largest contributor of troops to Afghanistan.

"As Commander in Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan," said President Obama.  "After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home."

Speaking in the House of Commons Wednesday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown welcomed the increase, which will bring U.S. troops strength in Afghanistan to around 100,000.

"I think the whole House will welcome the announcement by President Obama - both of the objectives to the mission in relation to the Taliban and in relation to al Qaida, but also the numbers of troops, a very substantial part of which will go into Helmand province and will be an assistance in dealing with the Taliban insurgency there," said Mr. brown.

Britain has 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, including Special Forces, and Mr. Brown promised 500 more earlier in the week.

But it is not just U.S. and British forces involved, about 40 other countries have sent troops under the banner of NATO.
In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcomed President Obama's announcement.

"I think it is a right decision for Afghanistan and for NATO.  This is not a U.S. mission alone," he said. "There are 43 countries on the ground under NATO command and I am confident that other allies and partners will also make a substantial increase in their contributions."

The war in Afghanistan has come at a cost.  More than 1,500 foreign troops have been killed in Afghanistan since the war started in 2001; more than 900 of them American.

While support for the troops generally remains high, opinion polls show support for the war does not, indicating uncertainty about the ability to succeed and get out have been voiced openly - and not just in Britain. 

To many, President Obama's announcement that U.S. troops would begin coming home by mid 2011 will be welcome.  But, security analyst David Livingstone of London's Chatham House research center says hard deadlines can spell problems.

"It may well be that the Taliban will redouble their efforts to put political pressure by making that date unachievable and therefore create some instability in public perception of how this campaign is going to be fought in the longer term," said Livingstone.

President Obama made clear the United States cannot go it alone.

"Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan.  Now, we must come together to end this war successfully," said Mr. Obama. "For what is at stake is not simply a test of NATO's credibility - what is at stake is the security of our Allies, and the common security of the world."

The NATO Secretary General says he is confident more troops will be sent.  But European leaders have been reluctant to make firm new pledges.  The issue is a top agenda item when alliance foreign ministers meet this week in Brussels.

Talks are to continue January 28 at a special summit on Afghanistan in London. 

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs