U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates plans to press European allies to contribute more to the fight in Afghanistan during two days of informal NATO meetings that began Thursday in the Lithuanian capital. (...)
Gates has made no secret of his frustration with allies reluctant to send more troops and equipment to Afghanistan. Testifying at the Senate Wednesday, before his trip to the meeting in Vilnius, Gates warned that the issue threatens to break the nearly 60-year-old alliance apart. "I worry a great deal about the alliance evolving into a two-tiered alliance in which you have some allies willing to fight and die to protect people's security and others who are not," Gates said. (...)
"The Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated with the inability of the European allies to get their act together," said Michael Williams, an analyst with the Royal United Services Institute, a military think tank. "Not just in terms of burden-sharing, which allies are doing in the north, but risk-sharing."
Gates in his closing statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee:
In visits to the combat theaters, in military hospitals, and in bases and posts at home and around the world, I continue to be amazed by their decency, resiliency, and courage. Through the support of the Congress and our nation, these young men and women will prevail in the current conflicts and be prepared to confront the threats that they, their children, and our nation may face in the future.
I just wonder if any German politician or journalist would find it appropriate to thank the U.S. troops - or British, Canadian or Dutch troops - for their "decency, resiliency, and courage" displayed during fights in the southern parts of Afghanistan, where, due to a national obsession with military defeat, German troops have not been noticed as yet.
On the other hand, given Germany's less than stellar record in training the police in Afghanistan, hopes for a significant improvement in the south of Afghanistan through the deploament of German troops may prove elusive:
Germany is coming under severe criticism for failing to train an effective Afghan police force to provide security for the local population and help NATO against Taliban insurgents in the south, according to military officials and defense experts. (...)
Germany's record in training the Afghan police has come under particular scrutiny as NATO and the EU try to coordinate the military, civilian and development efforts to prevent the south from falling into the hands of warlords and drug cartels.
NATO's top military commander, General James Jones, has repeatedly criticized Germany's role in training the Afghan police and the police's inability to protect civilians. "The training has been very disappointing," Jones said in a recent interview. (source)