WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US military likely will keep a slightly larger force in Afghanistan in 2015 than first planned and American troops will have authority to come to the aid of Afghan forces if necessary, officials said Tuesday.
The United States may have to deploy hundreds of additional forces in coming months, beyond the 9,800-strong contingent announced previously, because of a shortfall in troop contributions from NATO members, defense officials told AFP.
Commanders were still working out the details but there was a shortage of roughly 400 to 700 NATO troops that would need to be filled temporarily by US forces through the winter months of 2015, said a defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“This is just to bridge the gap,” the official said.
The shortfall was a result of the delayed signing of a bilateral security agreement this year between Washington and Kabul, which also complicated deals with other NATO countries to deploy troops to Afghanistan starting next year.
The post-2014 NATO mission calls for 12,500 troops to remain on the ground starting in January, with about 2,700 non-US forces.