NATO commits to training Afghan forces after U.S. withdrawal

During the meeting, “NATO leaders reaffirmed their commitment to continue to stand with Afghanistan with training and financial support for Afghan forces and institutions,” Stoltenberg said.

Training of the Afghan security forces, especially the special forces, will take place at an undetermined location outside Afghanistan, a NATO spokesperson said after Stoltenberg’s remarks. Training and advice to civilian institutions, such as the Afghan ministries of defense and interior, will take place in Afghanistan and be run by NATO’s civilian office in Kabul.

Stoltenberg previewed the Monday announcement during an appearance at the Atlantic Council last week ahead of his first meeting with Biden as president, saying NATO leaders were “looking into” how to continue to provide training.

“Our military mission, the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, will end. But of course, we can train Afghan forces in other countries, and we’re looking into how we can provide that kind of support,” Stoltenberg said. “And we’ll have a civilian presence in Afghanistan, helping them with capacity building, and so on at the ministerial level or for the different security institutions.”

The continuation of the NATO training mission was also reflected in a communique released on Monday, which also laid out how the alliance would retain a senior civilian representative’s office in Kabul “to continue diplomatic engagement and enhance our partnership with Afghanistan.”

On Monday, Stoltenberg also announced that NATO would provide funding to continue operations at Hamid Karzai International Airport, although officials have yet to work out the details.

The communique also reflected that NATO will increase its presence in Iraq, which is primarily geared toward training and advising Iraqi forces.

“This expansion of NATO Mission Iraq, including additional support to the Iraqi security institutions, will be demand-driven, incremental, scalable, and based on conditions on the ground,” according to the document.