Tighter security for Spanish troops in Afghanistan
29 November 2006, RIGA — Madrid will allow the 700 troops it has deployed in Afghanistan to venture outside their designated zone only in cases of emergency.
29 November 2006
RIGA — Madrid will allow the 700 troops it has deployed in Afghanistan to venture outside their designated zone only in cases of emergency.
Spanish defence minister Jose Antonio Alonso made the announcement at a press conference at a NATO conference in Riga which he is attending with Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
Alonso said that Spain will not increase its troop strength in the western Afghan province of Badghis, and it will continue to carry out civil reconstruction efforts there and to help the local population in other ways.
He said that the mission of the U.N.-authorized, NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan was the reconstruction of the country.
The minister admitted that recently "the objective risk" throughout Afghanistan had increased.
In the face of the request by the alliance and the United States to increase the size of the ISAF and loosen restrictions on the movements of the respective national contingents, Spain is maintaining its support for the mission but with more emphasis on civil reconstruction, Alonso said.
Regarding the mobility of the troops, the minister made clear that "it makes no sense" for Spanish troops to move to another part of the country, but he said that if an emergency arose such as the need to help wounded troops or rescue them "our soldiers will be there."
He said bluntly that "for them to leave the west, they must receive the permission of Spanish authorities and not (that of) the commanders of the ISAF".
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news