NATO allies offer limp response to U.S. Afghan call | Reuters
KRAKOW, Poland (Reuters) - The United States called on its NATO allies Thursday to provide more forces to provide security for Afghanistan's presidential election in August, but had only a limited response.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he would not seek a specific number of additional NATO troops from a meeting of NATO defense ministers in the Polish city of Krakow.
But he said Washington would like to see a short-term deployment of troops to Afghanistan from the alliance's rapid response force, the NRF, which has never been utilized.
"The message is that it is a new administration and (it) is prepared to make additional commitments to Afghanistan. But there clearly will be expectations that the allies must do more as well," Gates told reporters.
U.S. President Barack Obama authorized 17,000 more U.S. troops for Afghanistan this week, taking the U.S. contingent to around 55,000, in addition to the 30,000 from 40 other mostly NATO countries already operating in Afghanistan.
Some European allies have announced plans to send more troops, but these numbered in the hundreds, not thousands, and Germany said the NRF should not be used for Afghan duty.
"The NRF should not be used as a reserve," German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung told reporters in Krakow. "The NRF has fundamentally different tasks."