As NATO leaders head to the alliance’s summit in Lisbon later this month, they should applaud the Czech Republic for increasing their troop contribution to the mission in Afghanistan during one of the most crucial periods for the counterinsurgency strategy.
In December 2009, President Obama announced that America would deploy an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Great Britain, Poland, Georgia, South Korea, and Italy pulled together a further 7,000 troops to support the population-centric strategy. However, France, Germany, Belgium, and other European countries once again failed to equitably share the burden of the nine-year-old war.
There remains incredible frustration over the inequitable burden-sharing among the NATO allies in Afghanistan. NATO’s Continental European members have provided too few troops with too many national caveats on their deployments, and in some cases, undeclared caveats have also been imposed. European support for the civilian component of the comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan approved at NATO’s Bucharest summit in 2008 has also been unforthcoming with embedded trainers, Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams and other Afghan trainers in short supply.
Announcing the additional Czech deployment, Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra—a longstanding friend of the United States—stated that it is a “sign of our responsibility toward our own security and the security of our allies.” President Obama should make a point of recognizing this when he sees Prime Minister Petr Necas at the summit in Lisbon and continue to press NATO’s other European allies to also step up to the plate.