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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » December 16, 2009
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More Troops to Afghanistan
December 16, 2009   
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At least 25 of the 44 countries involved in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) will expand their military contingents next year, said NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen Dec. 4. In all, the number of non-American NATO troops in Afghanistan will increase by 7,000, according to Rasmussen.

U.S. President Barack Obama Dec. 1 delivered a speech at the United States Military Academy at West Point during which he unveiled Washington's new strategy for Afghanistan and called on all allies to deploy extra troops to ISAF. The United States will expand its force in Afghanistan by 30,000 to a total of 101,000 men, Obama said.

That same day, Obama and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk talked on the phone about expanding the Polish military contingent in Afghanistan. Tusk said Poland will likely deploy an extra 600 soldiers to Afghanistan.

According to the Polish defense ministry, these new units could join the Afghanistan mission half way through next year. They will be accompanied by a fresh supply of modern military equipment for the Polish contingent in response to long-standing complaints from soldiers. The new equipment will include the latest reconnaissance systems, specially reinforced combat vehicles and personal weapons, officials said.

Meanwhile, public support for Poland's military involvement in Afghanistan is the lowest in history, with over 80 percent of respondents opposed. However, officials insist that the Polish contingent cannot be withdrawn.

Both Tusk and defense minister Bogdan Klich say the Afghanistan mission is the most important test for NATO in recent years. Failure would put an end to NATO's credibility as the most powerful and efficient military alliance in the world, officials say. They add that the mission is needed to guarantee the security and efficiency of next year's parliamentary elections in Afghanistan. According to NATO leaders, with time the elections will make the Afghan administration strong enough to assume full responsibility for the country and prevent the Taliban from returning to power.
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