if necessary to continue military missions there, to coordinate with UN. In fact all NATO forces must be under UN flag, and UN command. We warn NATO of its decision that will lead to enlarge scope of war, with more civilian victims in Afghanistan!!
Associated France Press 29/9/2006
NATO agrees to expand across Afghanistan despite insurgency
by Lorne Cook
Thu Sep 28, 9:23 PM ET
PORTOROZ, Slovenia (AFP) - NATO agreed to expand its military operations into eastern Afghanistan, even as it struggles to find troops to hold off a dogged Taliban-led insurgency in the volatile south.
The agreement, endorsed at a meeting of alliance defence ministers, would see some 12,000 US troops come under NATO control within Afghanistan's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) within weeks.
"Expect this to happen very soon indeed," NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told reporters in Portoroz, Slovenia after a first day of talks.
The move would put ISAF in control of international operations across the country, boosting its numbers to more than 30,000 troops -- almost half of them US forces -- from some 37 nations.
It would also permit NATO's commanders to move US soldiers from the east down to the Taliban's southern heartland, where British, Dutch and Canadian troops have been locked in battle with Taliban-led fighters.
"What the commander will do, is he will make judgements as to how he wants those forces arrayed and to the extent that facts on the ground call for x, y or z," said US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
But both men urged the NATO allies to do more, amid a general reluctance to supply around 2,000 reinforcements in the south in response to a demand earlier this month by supreme commander US General James Jones.
"If you are in an alliance based on solidarity, you have to deliver," Scheffer said.
Poland will speed up its deployment of around 1,000 personnel and is expected to provide many of the combat troops needed in the south. NATO sources said Romania, Canada, Denmark and the Czech Republic also made offers.
ISAF has been on a mission since 2003 to spread the influence of President Hamid Karzai's weak central government to outlying regions by providing security and fostering reconstruction.
It first moved into the north and west of the country, setting up civilian-military reconstruction teams to try to improve infrastructure and the economy while providing security.
Stage three saw NATO take command in July, mainly through British, Dutch and Canadian troops, of international operations in the Taliban's southern heartland.
The final phase -- stage four -- essentially involves transferring command of US troops in the Operation Enduring Freedom coalition to ISAF and could be completed very quickly.
But US officers in the east say attacks on their troops have increased two- to three-fold recently, and, according to one diplomat, Jones told the ministers that the threat in west had "gone from medium to high".
The Taliban, ousted by the US-led military coalition in late 2001 for harbouring Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, has been backed by allies among drug runners and fighters loyal to local warlords.
More than 100 foreign soldiers have been killed in hostile action in Afghanistan this year, about half of them US troops, and Iraq-style suicide bombings have been on the rise.
Some 2,000 people, civilians, military and insurgents, have been killed in all.
As it seeks to reclaim Taliban-infested territory, ISAF also hopes to win hearts and minds by helping build new roads, bridges and schools, as well as provide jobs.
But development is lagging and NATO's most ambitious security enterprise faces failure if Afghans lose interest in democracy and turn once again to the fundamentalist militia.
The major challenges include building an Afghan police force, fighting corruption and ending the opium trade.
"It is winnable but it requires a concerted effort," said NATO spokesman James Appathurai, and added: "the international donors, the United Nations, the European Union, the non-governmental organisations, they all have to step up their game, all of them."