World Bulletin / News Desk
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg Wednesday vowed a more "flexible" approach in aiding struggling Afghan forces, after a report said a U.S. general recommended ramping up military engagement despite the end of the coalition's combat mission.
NATO's rules of engagement were sharply curtailed after it formally wrapped up its combat operations in December 2014, leaving Afghan forces to battle a resurgent Taliban on their own.
Stoltenberg insisted NATO will maintain a non-combat role but will offer greater intelligence and medical evacuation support, especially in insurgency-hit provinces such as Helmand and Kunduz.
"What we have decided is that we will have a more flexible and targeted approach, with the resources we already have in Afghanistan," the NATO secretary general said at the end of his two-day visit to Kabul.
NATO faces growing pressure from within to expand its military role as Afghan forces struggle to contain the expanding insurgency, as efforts to restart Taliban peace talks falter.
John Campbell, until recently the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, had recommended the White House to resume offensive airstrikes against the Taliban, the Washington Post reported Monday citing senior Pentagon officials.
The recommendation, if accepted, would draw the U.S. back into a broader air campaign against the insurgents, as Afghanistan's own nascent air force struggles to repel the Taliban's advances.
Afghanistan has actively courted the NATO-led coalition to delay a planned drawdown of nearly 13,000 troops stationed in the country and maintain its air power and military support.
President Barack Obama last year abandoned plans to withdraw most U.S. troops by the end of 2016, acknowledging that Afghan forces are not ready to stand alone.
"We haven't yet decided the troop levels for 2017 and it is too early for me to give you specific figures," Stoltenberg said, acknowledging that Afghanistan faces a difficult fight ahead.
"Different terrorist organisations... Al Qaeda, ISIL, Taliban... are in Afghanistan. We will continue our mission to train, assist and advise the Afghan forces."Last Mod: 16 Mart 2016, 17:39