As the U.S. military scrambles to meet a mid-January deadline to draw down to 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, a milestone in the conflict has passed almost unremarked: The combined NATO force on the ground now outnumbers the U.S. contingent.
About 13,000 U.S. troops were deployed to Afghanistan as of the end of February, when the U.S. government inked an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw all forces over the course of 14 months if conditions were kept.
There are now about 4,000 U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan, a senior U.S. defense official said Sunday, and the number is dropping quickly. As of late November, some 11,000 NATO troops remained from several dozen nations — a figure that includes the U.S. contingent. The largest contingents from other nations include Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy. Each had roughly between 900 and 1,000 troops supporting the effort as of June. […] As the U.S. military narrows its mission sets in Afghanistan, focusing on counterterrorism and advisory support with a shrinking force, the senior official said NATO has its own goals for its troops remaining in the country.
“We understand where they want to continue to play in what mission space they want to continue to work, and we’re working with them; obviously, some of them have [had] the train-advise-assist relationships a decade or more,” he said. “We want to keep those relationships with the Afghan National Security Forces and the Army. We want those to continue. They’re robust, and we’re working with our partners to ensure that as we adjust together, the missions that we continue to do make sense for those nation partners.” Läs artikel