As Afghanistan Attacks Continue, NATO Resolve Wavers | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 21.10.2008
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As Afghanistan Attacks Continue, NATO Resolve Wavers

NATO's will to continue fighting in Afghanistan is wavering, one of the organizations top commanders said. As the carnage in Afghanistan continues, countries are reluctant to send troops into tough combat areas.

German soldier in Afghanistan

Germany has been reluctant to send soldiers where the fighting is

"We are demonstrating a political will that is in my judgment sometimes wavering," said United States General John Craddock, the head of US European Command and NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe.

Some nations are reluctant to commit troops to tough combat roles, Craddock said. NATO countries' worries about confronting the violence is hindering progress in dealing with insurgents, the drug trade and corruption, Craddock said on Monday, Oct. 21 in a speech to London's Royal United Services Institute, a military think tank.

Craddock said that some countries refused to fight in southern Afghanistan and imposed restrictions on the duties their soldiers could carry out. That had exposed NATO's failings, he said.

"A brief look at the will of our allies in the mission in Afghanistan demonstrates some real shortcomings," Craddock said.

Germany under attack

Craddock, right, in Afghanistan

Craddock, right, worries about NATO's will to fight

While he didn't mention Germany by name, it is one of the NATO countries which has restricted soldiers to the relatively safe northern part of the country. Germany's mandate also does not allow for combat missions.

Even so, two German soldiers and five Afghan children were killed in a suicide bombing on Monday, showing that widespread risks remain. This year, 232 international soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, most of them in indurgent bomb attacks.

NATO leaders have called for additional troops, but countries have been reluctant to commit.

"It's this wavering political will that impedes operational progress and brings into question the relevance of the alliance here in the 21st century," he said.

Calls for dialogue

Craddock also stood up for the view expressed by Britain's outgoing commander in Afghanistan, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, who recently said that the Taliban could not be defeated militarily and that at some level insurgents needed to be drawn into a dialogue.

"His comments are generally in line with what our military and political leaders have been saying all along... The conflict in Afghanistan cannot be won by military means alone," Craddock said. "We in the international community must come together as part of a truly comprehensive approach (in Afghanistan). The current effort remains disjointed in time and space."

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