Merkel - Germany not 'first in line' to boost troops in Afghanistan

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says his government is "open" to sending more troops to Afghanistan, as requested by the United States.

On Wednesday, Stoltenberg met British Prime Minister Theresa May, a day after reports suggested North Atlantic Treaty Organisation had asked Britain for more troops a few weeks ago.

The military alliance announced an end to its combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014, but the push to increase the deployment now is an indication of how the military alliance is increasingly being drawn back into fighting in the country.

The number of troops that the United States will add to the fight in Afghanistan will depend on how many additional forces North Atlantic Treaty Organisation supplies to expand the battle against terrorists there, Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Israel Tuesday. "We're open to that", Turnbull told the press on Friday. "I think we'd probably want to do it". Many Western countries fall short of the proposed threshold of 2 percent of gross domestic product, with the economic powerhouse Germany only spending 1.2 percent of its GDP on the military.

USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have since been receiving requests for more troops to boost the Resolute Support mission, which now deploys 13,450 troops.

"Just because you spend more, throw more people, doesn't mean you're doing it in the most effective way", said Spicer, reminding the journalist that President Trump had also asked his national security team to "rethink the strategy" for Afghanistan.

Stoltenberg stressed that any new North Atlantic Treaty Organisation arrivals would not be in a combat role.

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However, loss of territory to Taliban and Islamic militants, a rise in civilian casualties and a fall in the number of Afghan security forces have led the USA administration under Trump to review Afghanistan policy.

"Fighting season" - when winter subsides and combatants become more active - is approaching and President Donald Trump's administration is reportedly considering a surge of several thousand American troops.

"Fighting season" - when combatants become more active as winter subsides - is approaching and Mr Trump is reportedly considering a plan that would significantly expand the U.S. military operation and seek to force the Taliban back to the negotiating table.

The Taliban has made gains in recent years, undoing work done by coalition forces over the course of the conflict. More than 13,000 personnel are serving in global coalition forces in the country, roughly half of whom are American. Australia's commitment reduced significantly after that, when forces left Uruzgan province.

Gen. Raymond Thomas of the U.S. Special Operations Command, however, had an assessment that differs from Stewart's, saying he believes, "We have an adequate number of my troops, special operations forces, on the ground".

"What we promised was to stop the cuts, gradually increase and then move towards 2 percent", Stoltenberg said. "And, actually, Germany and numerous European allies have started to do exactly that", he added.

Turnbull said he had visited the Australian troops working with the Afghan defense forces as part of his April visit.

  • Megan Austin