NATO's Stoltenberg Lauds Merkel's Efforts On Russia

British PM hosts NATO chief

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will continue its support for the global coalition fighting Daesh but will not engage in combat operations in Syria or Iraq, the alliance's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday.

American forces have two missions in Afghanistan: training and advising Afghan troops in conjunction with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces and carrying out counterterrorism operations.

That new beefing-up of efforts would include sending US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation advisers at brigade and battalion level to help Afghan commanders coordinate troop movements with artillery, intelligence or close air support, he said. "We're open to that", Prime Minister Turnbull told reporters in Sydney.

He mentioned increasing the number of US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation advisers and possibly allowing them to advise Afghan forces who are more directly involved in the fighting.

The outlet said 42 Australians have lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2001.

Turnbull said, however, that his government first had to examine its existing defense commitments in the region and other parts of the world.

Right now, there are about 8,400 USA troops in-country, and The Washington Post said 3,000 more would initially be added under the plan.

ANSF performance will probably worsen due to a combination of Taliban operations, ANSF combat casualties, desertions, poor logistics support, and weak leadership, he added.

Turnbull did not specify the details of the request from NATO's military authorities, which he received during a visit to Afghanistan late last month, although he said he was "open" to the idea.

The West Australian understands Australia has received a request from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation for a "small number" of new troops as fears grow about the deteriorating security situation and signs Islamic State is gaining a foothold in the country.

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". The participants aim to advise and train the Afghan security forces.

After more than 15 years, the conflict in Afghanistan is generally conceded to be unwinnable, so the goal of having more USA boots on the ground is to put pressure on the Taliban and bring it to the bargaining table.

The news comes ahead of a major conference of Allied leaders and growing speculation that President Donald Trump will commit thousands of additional USA troops to the troubled nation.

More than 2,200 US troops have died in Afghanistan since the USA invasion in October 2001.

"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.

Members of the 28-nation alliance are part of the anti-IS coalition.

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