Thousands of international troops remain in Afghanistan, but some members of this coalition are more willing than others. FP looks at whose militaries are pulling their weight—and who could do far more.
- By Super Admin
THE HEAVYWEIGHTSTHE TOP FIVE
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Troops currently in Afghanistan: 29,000, with about 19,000 serving in NATOs International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) effort and the rest serving under U.S. command
Fatalities: 419 (includes deaths in Pakistan and Uzbekistan)
What theyve done there: Worked to clear the country of insurgents, hunted down Taliban and al Qaeda leaders, and trained the Afghan Army
Outlook: Last month, the United States announced plans to increase its contingent by 3,200 Marines, 1,100 of whom have now arrived. By this summer, the country expects to have 32,000 pairs of U.S. boots on the ground, an all-time high.
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Troops currently in Afghanistan: 7,800
Fatalities: 89 (includes civilians from the Ministry of Defense)
What theyve done there: The British navy and air force provided support during initial attacks in October 2001. Currently, Britains troops are concentrated in the southern province of Helmand, where they have fiercely fought to clear out insurgents. The Provincial Reconstruction Team theyve led there has implemented various projects, such as wind-powered wells and schools, water infrastructure, and emergency food distribution.
Outlook: It doesnt look like the Brits are packing up anytime soon. Last year, British Defense Secretary Des Browne said of the British troop contingents in Afghanistan, Some of them are commitments for decades; some of them may be commitments for generations.
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
Troops currently in Afghanistan: 3,210
What theyve done there: German troops lead the ISAF effort in northern Afghanistan. Some are part of a reconstruction team that is providing security to aid agencies, and German reconnaissance planes have engaged in aerial surveillance of Taliban-occupied areas. German participation, however, comes with many restrictions. Last November, The Times of London reported that German helicopter pilots, who provide medical evacuation, have to return to their base everyday at tea time so they can be back before dark. In one instance, they abandoned Norwegian and Afghan soldiers in the middle of a daylong firefight against the Taliban.
Outlook: Half of Germans polled late last year supported a troop withdrawal, and the countrys defense minister recently rejected NATOs requests for more troops. The United States has criticized Germany for restricting its troops to the relatively calm north, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a visit to Kabul last November, We are concentrating on the north, and that is how it should remain.
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
Troops currently in Afghanistan: 2,880
What theyve done there: Italian troops lead the ISAF effort in Kabul and the western province of Herat. In Herat, theyve mainly engaged in patrolling and reconstruction activities. In Surobi, a district east of Kabul, they have used mules to bring rice, blankets, and medicine to villages.
Outlook: Earlier this month, Italys defense minister confirmed that his countrys troops will remain in Afghanistan at the current level. Italys presence in Afghanistan nearly brought down the government in February 2007. Doubts about engagement in Afghanistan again became a touchy issue in March 2007 when an Italian journalist was kidnapped by the Taliban and later released in exchange for five Taliban prisoners held by Afghan authorities.
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Troops currently in Afghanistan: 2,500
What theyve done there: Canadas troops are concentrated in the perilous southern province of Kandahar, where the Taliban is the strongest. They have been active in combat and are widely thought to have suffered a disproportionate fraction of deaths compared with other troop-contributing countries. Indeed, a report on casualty rates during the first year of operation in the Kandahar region found that Canadian troops died at 2.6 to four times the rate of British and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and at two to 2.6 times the rate of U.S. troops in Iraq.
Outlook: This month, Canada voted to keep its 2,500 troops in Kandahar until the end of 2011 if NATO countries provide an additional 1,000 troops. With public support for the mission waning, Canada has vowed to withdraw if reinforcements dont arrive. The Pentagon has informally committed to provide those 1,000 troops if another country doesnt step up, and in fact, 1,100 U.S. Marines have recently arrived as a stopgap measure.
Colum Lynch is Foreign Policy's award-winning U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter. Lynch previously wrote Foreign Policy's Turtle Bay blog, for which he was awarded the 2011 National Magazine Award for best reporting in digital media. He is also a recipient of the 2013 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Silver Prize for his coverage of the United Nations.
Before moving to Foreign Policy, Lynch reported on diplomacy and national security for the Washington Post for more than a decade. As the Washington Post's United Nations reporter, Lynch had been involved in the paper's diplomatic coverage of crises in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, and Somalia, as well as the nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea. He also played a key part in the Post's diplomatic reporting on the Iraq war, the International Criminal Court, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and U.S. counterterrorism strategy. Lynch's enterprise reporting has explored the underside of international diplomacy. His investigations have uncovered a U.S. spying operation in Iraq, Dick Cheney's former company's financial links to Saddam Hussein, and documented numerous sexual misconduct and corruption scandals.
Lynch has appeared frequently on the Lehrer News Hour, MSNBC, NPR radio, and the BBC. He has also moderated public discussions on foreign policy, including interviews with Susan E. Rice, the U.S. National Security Advisor, Gerard Araud, France's U.N. ambassador, and other senior diplomatic leaders.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Lynch received a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985 and a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 1987. He previously worked for the Boston Globe.| Turtle Bay |