NATO chief says mission creep, corruption hurt Afghan effort

Dec 1, 2021, 2:02 AM | Updated: 11:49 am
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affair...

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell Fontelles talk to each other on the sideline of the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Riga, Latvia, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Roman Koksarov)

(AP Photo/Roman Koksarov)

RIGA, Latvia (AP) — NATO became a victim of mission creep in Afghanistan as the international community upped its aims from fighting extremists to rebuilding the conflict-torn country over two decades, the military organization’s civilian leader said Wednesday.

“That broader task proved much more difficult, so we must ensure that our levels of ambition remain realistic,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after chairing a meeting of alliance foreign ministers in Latvia where a report on lessons learned in Afghanistan was discussed.

NATO took over the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in 2003, almost two years after a U.S.-led coalition invaded the country to oust the Taliban for harboring Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader who masterminded the Sept. 11 terror attacks and was shot dead in Pakistan in 2011.

The international force helped build up an Afghan army said to be around 300,000-strong, although the army was so riddled with corruption that its real troop numbers were unclear. Whatever its size, the Afghan army withered within days in August in the face of a Taliban offensive.

Stoltenberg said the Afghan security forces “were hampered by corruption, poor leadership, and an inability to sustain their own forces,” despite years of international support. “For the future, we must ensure that NATO training efforts create more self-sustaining forces,” he said.

More than 100,000 people were evacuated from Kabul in late August during the frenzied final days of a U.S. airlift after President Joe Biden said American troops would leave. Thousands of Afghans remained, desperate to escape the uncertainty of Taliban rule.

Referring to the debacle at Kabul Airport, where a bomb attack was launched and desperate Afghans clung to a departing transport plane, Stoltenberg said that “we should explore how to strengthen NATO’s ability to conduct short-notice, large scale non-combatant evacuation efforts.”

The report presented Wednesday required no vote. The job of identifying lessons was handled by NATO’s 30 deputy national envoys, under the lead of Assistant Secretary General for Operations John Manza, along with several experts.

NATO makes decisions unanimously, and Manza said it would be impossible to reach consensus on such a document. Stoltenberg said NATO will make “the main findings” public.

Stoltenberg and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that NATO had helped prevent the launch of international extremist attacks from Afghan soil for almost two decades.

“For 20 years, NATO made sure that Afghanistan could not again become a safe haven for terrorists who threaten our countries and our people,” Blinken said. “Now, NATO remains fully committed to the fight against terrorism worldwide and we will use all our capabilities to aid in that fight.”

Blinken did not say what lessons the U.S.-led military organization might have learned.

The security effort cost the United States alone $2.3 trillion, and the price in lives includes 2,324 American troops and 1,144 personnel among U.S. allies, according to figures from Brown University. NATO doesn’t keep a record of those who die in its operations.

Those casualty figures are dwarfed by Afghan losses, which include more than 46,000 civilians, about 69,000 members of the national armed forces and police, and over 52,000 opposition fighters.

___

Lorne Cook reported from Brussels.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Second fatal shooting this month near George Floyd Square

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — One man died and another was seriously hurt in the second fatal shooting this month near the intersection where George Floyd died in police custody more than two years earlier. Minneapolis Police spokesman Officer Garrett Parten said officers found two wounded men with life-threatening injuries Sunday afternoon near the intersection in south […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Police: 2 dead after SUV crashes into N. Carolina restaurant

WILSON, N.C. (AP) — A sport utility vehicle crashed into a North Carolina fast-food restaurant on Sunday, killing two sibling customers, police said. The single-vehicle crash occurred at about 9:45 a.m. at a Hardee’s restaurant in the city of Wilson, around 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of the state capital, Raleigh. The Lincoln Aviator struck […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Hit-and-run on Chicago street leaves 3 dead, 1 injured

CHICAGO (AP) — Three people were killed and another injured when they were struck by a car during a hit-and-run on a Chicago street early Sunday, police said. A sedan hit the four males around 5 a.m. on the city’s South Side and then drove away, Chicago police said. No one was in custody, police […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Trial begins in shooting death of 7-year-old in Atlanta

ATLANTA (AP) — The trial is underway for a man accused of fatally shooting a 7-year-old girl who was riding in a car with her family after a day of Christmas shopping in Atlanta. Fulton County prosecutor Pat Dutcher said in his opening statement on Friday that Kennedy Maxie was struck by gunfire after the […]
18 hours ago
Navajo Code Talker Thomas Begay talks to people prior to the Arizona State Navajo Code Talkers Day ...
Associated Press

80 years later, Navajo Code Talker marks group’s early days

PHOENIX (AP) — It’s been 80 years since the first Navajo Code Talkers joined the Marines, transmitting messages using a code based on their then-unwritten native language to confound Japanese military cryptologists during World War II — and Thomas H. Begay, one of the last living members of the group, still remembers the struggle. “It […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Ex-employee shut down PD website over pay dispute, city says

NEWTON, Mass. (AP) — Officials in a Boston suburb are investigating a former city employee they say shut down the police website during a pay dispute. Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said the former employee, who was the police department information technology director, took down the department website in late June and July. The website instead […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
NATO chief says mission creep, corruption hurt Afghan effort