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Latvia to increase the number of its troops participating in NATO’s operation in Afghanistan

Raimonds Bergmanis/flickr.com.
Latvia will increase its troop contingent participating in NATO training operation in Afghanistan. The total number of specialists to be sent to the country will become known soon, says Defence Minister Raimonds Bergmanis.

Analysis of Afghanistan’s needs continues. It is likely Latvia will send troops that will participate in the training process organized for local troops.

Latvia’s mandate for participation in this operation ends next year. This is why Defence Ministry plans to ask the Saeima to extend it.

The minister says the current mandate allows for the increase of Latvia’s troop contingent in Latvia, and the country has already used it by sending two demolitions experts to Afghanistan.

Bergmanis does not deny that under the current security situation in Latvia and the development of National Armed Forces does not require every soldier to be on site. In addition, Latvian soldiers already participate in other international operations and missions.

«We will look at opportunities. We will assess and discuss how many troops and specialists to send to Afghanistan,» adds the minister.

24 Latvian soldiers are currently participating in NATO’s Resolute Support operation. They do not participate in combat operations, however.

Last week, NATO defence ministers voiced support to the new strategy proposed by USA for Afghanistan and the plan to increase the number of NATO troops in the country from 13,000 to 16,000.

The two-day discussion in Brussels was the first high-rank meeting since US President Donald Trump announced his new strategy for South Asia in August. Among other things, he proposed increasing military presence in Afghanistan.

Afghan security forces are having a hard time dealing with the growing Taliban offensive. On top of that, the presence of the Islamic State terrorist organization has also increased in this country in recent months.

It is expected that approximately half of 3,000 additional troops will be provided by USA, and the other half – by NATO member states.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO is prepared to remain in Afghanistan for as long as the alliance sees necessary.


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