1 August 2009 – Afghanistan Today weekly (Dari/Pashto) programme: No 4
NATO approved a reorganization of its command structure in Afghanistan on Tuesday to better coordinate the war there against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
The Obama administration, which has moved to sharply increase the American military presence in Afghanistan, wanted the change to improve command efficiency over the NATO forces there, known as the International Security Assistance Force.
NATO agreed to establish a new Intermediate Joint Headquarters in Kabul under an American, Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, to manage the day-to-day war. General Rodriguez will continue to report to the top American military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal.
The decision was made at the first meeting of the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s governing body, presided over by NATO’s new secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former Danish prime minister who started work on Monday.
The meeting, held by secure video conference, also included the new supreme allied commander of NATO forces, Adm. James G. Stavridis of the United States, as well as Generals McChrystal and Rodriguez.
All those involved emphasized that the alliance’s goal is “the equipping and training of Afghan security forces” so that the Afghan government can finally be able to defend itself from the Taliban, according to the NATO spokesman, James Appathurai.
In the prelude to the Aug. 20 election in Afghanistan, some 101,000 NATO and American forces are deployed there. The total includes 62,000 American soldiers, more than double the number a year ago. The United States is urging its European partners in NATO to send more troops and to keep in Afghanistan the extra troops sent in to provide security for the elections.
Mr. Rasmussen also briefed the council on his priorities as secretary general: Afghanistan, improving relations with Russia and with partner nations in the Muslim world, in North Africa and the Middle East.
On Monday, the American defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, met in Belgium for consultations on Afghanistan strategy with Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander of American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq; Generals McChrystal and Rodriguez; and Admiral Stavridis.
source: The New York Times
By STEVEN ERLANGER