Belgium to boost troops, aircraft in Afghanistan
Belgium is to send more aircraft and troops to Afghanistan, as the US asks NATO allies for reinforcements
Brussels - Belgium is to send more aircraft and troops to Afghanistan, officials confirmed Friday immediately after the US asked NATO allies for reinforcements.
Four F-16 fighter jets and roughly 100 ground staff are to make up the bulk of the reinforcement, a Defence Ministry spokesman told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. The aircraft are set to deploy on September 1 in the southern hot-spot of Kandahar.
The contingent is also set to contain 40 ground troops, half of whom are to strengthen the guard on Kabul airport. The remaining 20 are to help train Afghan troops in the relatively stable north of the country.
Belgium currently contributes 370 troops to the 41,700-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. However, the US and Canada, whose troops face fierce fighting and have sustained considerable losses in the south, have consistently lobbied for other NATO allies to increase their commitment there.
This week, Canada threatened to pull its troops out of Kandahar unless other NATO members increased their manpower in the south. Following that threat, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates wrote to all NATO members asking them to send more men to the south.