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Sweden looks to boost Afghanistan force

TT/AFP/The Local · 30 Sep 2009, 07:23

Published: 30 Sep 2009 07:23 GMT+02:00

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The Swedish military wants instead to boost the number of troops on the ground in Afghanistan to 630 by 2011, according to Sveriges Television (SVT).

In addition, the government wants to send a rescue helicopter as well as several more Hercules transport planes to Afghanistan.

The plans, which also call for expanding Sweden’s intelligence operations in the country, are to be detailed in a bill scheduled for presentation later this autumn.

According to Sweden’s defence minister Sten Tolgfors, the Armed Forces’ proposed troop increase is one of several proposals which serve as the basis for the bill.

However, Tolgfors refused to offer an opinion on the pending legislation.

“What I think will be made clear when we present the bill. I’ve said previously that we must always be open to shaping our contributions in a way that meets the challenges on the ground,” Tolgfors told the TT news agency.

The government and the Social Democrats came to an agreement last autumn that the Swedish force in Afghanistan should be increased to 500 people.

The total number of personnel involved is actually 855, but that includes staff ready to assist with a possible evacuation of the troops from Afghanistan.

According to the defence ministry, the expansion of Sweden’s force from 435 to 500 soldiers is ongoing, in accordance with last autumn’s bill.

Discussions of a further increase, however, are not currently taking place.

The news of Sweden’s desire to increase its military presence in Afghanistan comes on the same day that EU defence ministers meeting in Gothenburg agreed that EU nations will wait for results of Afghanistan's elections and for a US decision on strategy there before looking at possible troop reinforcements.

"The position now is to wait and see how the results of the elections come out. They will be known the 5th or the 7th of October," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told reporters on Tuesday.

"That will be the moment to analyze the situation," he said, on the margins of a meeting of the EU defence ministers meeting, with the fight against insurgents in Afghanistan high on the agenda.

The meeting comes after the top NATO commander in Afghanistan called for a major change in strategy to combat the Taliban and their allies in Al-Qaeda and criminal gangs, as well as the troops and resources to fulfill it.

Were any new strategy to succeed in Afghanistan it would rely heavily on support from the new government, and even US officials concede that no firm decision on the way ahead can be made before the results are finalized.

Story continues below…

"This is a debate that must be first held in the United States, before we begin speaking about it at NATO," said German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung, recalling that Germany's contribution is capped at 4,500 troops.

He underlined that any future efforts must involve civilians as much as troops.

French General Henri Bentegeat -- the head of the European Union's military committee grouping the 27-nation bloc's top brass -- said that "a margin does exist of course" to send more troops.

"But it's a question of political willingness," he cautioned.

TT/AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:56 September 30, 2009 by arslan11
Dont know why nation like Sweden that was neutral even in World War want to indulge in Afghanistan??? No afghan Taliban did anything wrong with them..... They are just puppet of USA.... Moreover they will make enemies that might cost them in future
10:24 September 30, 2009 by DreEstwd
Well, probably because no one in their right mind wants to see the Taliban in power again. Even Afghans don't want the Taliban in power. It's a humanitarian thing. And none of the countries in Afghanistan are "puppet of USA." They are doing this for the people in Afghanistan. Get a clue.
10:49 September 30, 2009 by Osk
Hope they don't send the Elite troops or maybe it will be safer in Sweden if they do.
11:05 September 30, 2009 by LaQueen
there is no necessity if we send more troops there.....

totally agree with arslan11
11:07 September 30, 2009 by peropaco
@Arslan11, Sweden is only neutral on paper. They assisted the Nazi's in WWll, they sent special troops to be Balkans during the unpleasantness there. They had glandestine troops in various African countries, etc. Just because you dont see them in uniform doesnt mean they are not there.
11:12 September 30, 2009 by DreEstwd
Ok, so nobody except for LaQueen and Arslan wants to see the Taliban in power again...I stand corrected.
11:24 September 30, 2009 by eZee.se
"No afghan Taliban did anything wrong with them.."

Like it or not, do something or not... that trouble will eventually come here, because we are all "infidels" and our western lifestyles is against some peoples beliefs in in their religion, so they "insist" we change.
12:51 September 30, 2009 by Playmaker
good to see sweden growing a backbone. tax money well spent. maybe just maybe we can use the money we spend on refugees on the military. or it could be my american blood saying that.
13:29 September 30, 2009 by Beynch
Let's hope Sweden does send additional troops to Afghanistan. We need to help our U.S. brothers in its colossal battle against islamo-fascism, and to preserve western culture and civilization. It would be money well spent.
13:56 September 30, 2009 by spy
This is just a Swedish PR exercise. 500 troops, or even if they double current levels to 1000 troops, will have no effect in the big scheme of things.

In order to effect change in Afghanistan around 100,000 extra troops are needed.
14:57 September 30, 2009 by Micheal
Sweden must prepare themselves for reaction from afghanistan also,why such a peaceful country is getting involves in these affairs,There will be reaction if not today then tomorrow but there will be.
15:05 September 30, 2009 by ironman294
@michael, arsian 11

Well Sweden is part of NATO correct? Besides like it was said before, we are all infidels.

Plus why not defeat an enemey that

1. throws acid in girls faces just because they are attending school

2. Doesnt allow women to step outside if no ,ale relative si with them

3. if you convert to christianity you will be jailed or executed (hmm Saudi arabia and many muslim countires do this)

4. Where girls as young as 8 yrs old get married to senior citizens

5. women are treaqted as third class citizens (hmm most muslim countries too)

6. Country which their religions founder married a 6 yr old girl
15:26 September 30, 2009 by Greg in Canada
Afghanistan is the hell hole of the world and we've lost over a hundred Canadian soldiers there. It would be great if Afghanistan could just "go away", but unfortunatley it won't. I think the west has define their mission better. Either we decide that we're going to win this thing (if that is even possible) or we withdraw. This holding down the fort pattern that we're currently in could end up going on forever.
17:32 September 30, 2009 by coswede
The article is unclear which side of the war Sweden supports.
20:52 September 30, 2009 by Nemesis
About time. Lots of soldiers from other countries are being rotated back out again. It is about time Sweden actually pulled its weight on something.

The Nordic Battle group should be fully equipped with offensive hardware now, as should all other European battle groups.


Also reinstate there appropiate coat of arms. They are the military, not political correctness inspectors.

They should be given all the offensive hardware they need for prolonged and intensive combat on ground, in the air and the training to do so.

Alos it needs to be said, back biting from politicans should be dealt with by putting there children in uniform and sending them to combat. They voted for it. They made stupid decisions that led to the problems. There children should be first into any combat zone on all occassions without exception.

The messing around that has been going on in Afghanistan needs to stop. It is a combat situation. The gloves need to come off and there needs to be full scale offensives against the terrorists.
20:58 September 30, 2009 by Dinaricman
Yes Nemesis!!! Release the Panzers!!!
03:03 October 1, 2009 by DaTraveler
This is great news. Sweden will have the largest non-NATO contribution after Australia which has 1,550 troops though the Aussies mainly have a semi-combat role but it's their Special Forces cutting up the Taliban in Uruzgan. Apparently the SAS of New Zealand sent 70 of their troops to Kabul last month.

Okay I was getting off topic but Sweden definitely needs this. The North is heating up extremely. Germans are in combat nearly everyday. About time the Swedes and Finns and Norwegians brought more troops to help out. The Swedes should consider sending another combat platoon or company or even some special forces there to help out.
13:34 October 1, 2009 by superb
interesting, only small raise in no, what 100,000 US soldiers have acheived that that 500 swedish soldiers will? only more deaths to civilians, soldiers, waste of money.
14:36 October 1, 2009 by DaTraveler
Um there are no 100,000 US soldiers there. There are around 68,000 at the moment with half in ISAF and the other half in Operation Enduring Freedom (more counter-terrorism and direct training with ANA). Though they should just merge the commands. The top commanders want to bring in around 30-40,000 more US troops although that won't start til early January if accepted. It'll be around a year from now when we have 100,000 Yanks there pushing the number of foreign soldiers to 130,000 troops.

If we were to get rid of caveats and more civilian aid and greater ANA training, we could actually get things going, but of course government corruption is what's really hurting the country. That and the fact that we can't provide jobs/reconstruction if we're constantly fighting.

But any contribution helps. Every country including Sweden should 1st and foremost deploy enough troops to carry out the mission. If Sweden has 500-700 troops, they should have enough air capabilities and a combat company to patrol and enough troops on base to protect themselves and also a PRT or reconstruction to manage on their own. It makes no sense for some countries to deploy troops but not even enough to protect their own base.
15:36 October 1, 2009 by Nemesis
This war is a mess.

Anyone looking for politically correct solutions to this, should be put in uniform and sent to the front line to educate them.

The whole thing has been planned out by ideologues on both sides.

There really needs to be hard headed, military thinking involved.

If we stay, we go in with everything we have, obliterate the Taliban and then start the long process of nation building.

If we are not prepared to go in with everything we have, we need to pull out.

The way the war is being conducted at present is wasting the lives of soldiers and civilians.

Having troop numbers below 150,000 is just murder of the troops. They need large numbers of combat troops, indepth special forces deployment and the political backing to do the job properly.
16:42 October 1, 2009 by DaTraveler
@Nemesis. Agreed.

The Europeans can't expect to simply go into a village with civilians and say 4 troops and have their guns on safety. They have to be armed and prepared for combat at all times. We need to continually attack the Taliban and related groups and than station a platoon or company of ISAF and ANA troops around the residences. So many times in the past we have fought the Taliban and caused them losses in the hundreds and yet we pull out the next day only for them to come back and take over. We have to stay.

Counter-insurgency takes time. The world can't expect for us to win overnight. Training of Afghans will take loads of time. For security, even training them for simple job tasks. They have been in constant war for 25years before we showed up. I believe the international community can win in Afghanistan only if we pony up and go for it.

The Brits, Canadians, Dutchies, Danes, Romanians, Estonians are in combat nearly every hour in the south. It's tough combat. The Americans, French, Polish, Czech and New Zealanders are in constant combat in the East. Yes the level of insurgent attacks has risen in the North but that's due to the Germans never patrolling for several years and allowing them to gain ground. The Germans need to send more combat battalions to stamp it out. It won't be pretty especially for politicans but say the Germans send 1000 combat troops to Kunduz and say they remain there, within a month or 2 that place will be solid under control. Same with the West. We have to seek the enemy and fight him and only then can we start construction. The Afghans must know we're in it for the long haul.

Countries like Spain, Turkey, Greece, Portugal could and should definitely do more. Germany and Italy are finally doing to the best of their abilities considering their recent rules on combat.
12:19 October 2, 2009 by ukgal28
I wonder, are they going to send the same guys that blew up the wrong house this week? If so, perhaps this won't be the most effective of solutions?

And as trite as this sounds, I just wish the war could end, have some peace for a while, or is that too idealistic? And does more troops being sent there really assist that?
14:53 October 2, 2009 by DaTraveler
@ukgal, If only that were possible. More troops would mean more combat but over time it would mean more security, training for ANA and thus room for more re-construction.

The basic problem is like say there are maybe 500 British troops in a city of 25,000. Well half the troops are combat, the others are support. Those in combat can only fight the Taliban to such a degree and can rid Sangin of the Taliban but no inch further, so over time the Taliban can rearm and simply wait to enter Sangin again. More troops would enable the Brits and all coalition countries to continue the fight. The more Afghans trained, the more they can be based in newly captured areas. Plus right behind the soldiers can be engineers building homes/schools/wells and doing great things for the people.

But first you need more troops to fight.
23:45 October 2, 2009 by HejHej
If sweden are going for the reconstruction, then its ok but to fight against such a deadly enemy its like getting the flying arrow in one's ass. Let the american 'brothers' to fight alone.
23:26 October 5, 2009 by Imran Akram
I say it would be better for Sweden not to poke its' nose in such a War Histeria.

Its strange to see comments about Women being treated as a 3rd grade citizens in Afghanistan where as the same woman is not allowed to cover her head if she wants to in France and being portrayed as a naked show piece for all the 'men' to enjoy. Its strange that a Women gets killed for covering her head right in the middle of a court room in Germany without any hassle and it is not taken as an act of 'insisting' NOT to wear scarf.

Let this be a message to any 'infidel'. You are no one to 'insist' someone not to follow his/her beliefs... If Taliban were BAD in insisting their beliefs, then the United States and its allies are no better either. Everyone knows now why America chose to come to Afghanistan and how... after a 9/11 setup. They're not 'liberating' anyone. Problem is you consider someone liberated when you see them doing just like you do. Stop imposing and live and let live. Be informed that if you destroy people's home, be it an 'infidel' or 'no-infidel'. You will have to face a reaction. A strong bitter reaction.
04:41 October 12, 2009 by MikeSar
I am very proud that my two sons served in the Swedish Air Force.

I am very happy to know that Sweden is willing to share the risk and pain of resolving attacks in the Indian Ocean, Afghanistan or wherever.

Freedom is not free, today you help America and we all hope you never need help but if you ever do, you know we in America will come to your support.

Your actions are far more notable because there is nothing in the horizon that threatens Sweden, unlike Spain and the United Kingdom who have already been attacked.

Also, I believe Swedish people have the attitude and credibility that allows the Swedish Army to help guide Afghanistan to a new future, free of the dispair of fatalism and predestination and a willingness to accept the responsibility and price of helping people in need, regardless nationality. We have something to learn from you. Thank you from one in the US.
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