NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance is ending its military mission in Afghanistan, but it is not ending its support for Afghans, reiterating that they are looking into ways “to preserve our hard-won gains” in the country.
“At the same time, of course, we’re also looking into the future. And addressing how can we preserve our hard-won gains in Afghanistan,” Stoltenberg said, mentioning that “we are withdrawing our troops in a coordinated way”
The NATO chief said that the alliance will continue “funding Afghan forces.”
“We will also look into how we can provide out-of-country training to train the Afghan forces, especially their special operation forces outside Afghanistan,” he said at an event on Monday hosted by the Atlantic Council.
Stoltenberg added: “We’re also working on how can we maintain some critical infrastructure, as for instance, the airport, to also support the presence of the broader international community, diplomatic presence, but also development aid and so on. So NATO will continue to be committed to Afghanistan, but in another way than over the last two decades with a big military operation.”
The withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan started on May 1, something that was accompanied by concerns about the country’s political future and whether the achievements of the last two decades will be maintained.
Stoltenberg assured that NATO will have a civilian presence in Afghanistan, helping Afghan forces with capacity building, and so on at the ministerial level or for the different security institutions.
The NATO chief said that there is “a lot of uncertainty” in Afghanistan and “it’s a very difficult situation.”
“We had several ministerial meetings, we had many meetings at the ambassadorial level in Brussels. So we consulted, but of course, it was a difficult decision to end the military mission which we had for almost two decades,” Stoltenberg said.