(AP) – A look at Afghan security issues to be discussed at the NATO summit in Chicago.
SHRINKING INTERNATIONAL FORCE
The U.S. withdrew 10,000 troops in 2011 and is in the process of pulling out another 23,000 by the end of September. That will leave about 68,000 American military personnel in Afghanistan _ still more than double the figure in 2008. Almost all the 130,000 international troops are to go by the end of 2014, and the exodus is gaining speed. France’s new President Francois Hollande has said he stands by his campaign pledge for an early withdrawal of his country’s 3,300 troops by the end of the year.
SHRINKING AFGHAN SECURITY FORCE
The U.S.-led coalition helped train an Afghan security force that soon will be 352,000-strong. Currently, that force costs about $6 billion a year. But the force will shrink to around 230,000 a year or so after it takes on full security responsibilities at the end of 2014. That’s largely because funding comes from donor nations that are fighting their own economic woes and are losing political will to pay for the decade-long war.
BANKROLLING THE AFGHAN FORCES
The smaller force will cost about $4.1 billion a year. The Afghan government will pay about $500 million of that, and the rest will come from donors. The NATO summit is not a pledging conference, but there will be much talk about who will pay. About $1.3 billion is expected to come from nations in the NATO coalition other than the United States. Pledges for about a third of that have been announced by Australia and European nations. U.S. taxpayers and some nations outside the military coalition likely will make up the $2.3 billion difference.