As for combat, no agreement reached in Chicago can predict exactly
when and how NATO will morph into the "training" mission expected in
Afghanistan (which will occur while counterterrorism fighting carries on
overhead.) Training missions have proven expensive--up to $2 billion per
year in Iraq, where maintaining and housing trainees cost far more than
the actual training. And Iraq could pay much of its bill. Foreign
countries have to pick up even greater share of Afghanistan's training,
which cost $12 billion at its peak last year.
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The flexibility in NATO's less-than-ironclad agreements leaves
Stephen Larrabee, Rand Corp.'s distinguished chair in European Security,
"I think that a lot of the commitments are paper commitments,"
Larrabee argued on Friday, referring to funding the ANSF. "I don't think
there are many European allies that are very enthusiastic at all."
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, meanwhile, is signing
individual security agreements with NATO members separate from the
alliance. Karzai and President Obama this month signed a 10-year deal
allowing Americans to stay, though not to seek permanent bases. But new
French President Francois Hollande on Friday told Obama he would fulfill
a campaign promise to withdraw combat troops early, by the end of this
"NATO members have committed to the principle of 'in together, out
together.' But will they follow through?" wrote Council on Foreign
Relations' Stewart M. Patrick, senior fellow and director of the
International Institutions and Global Governance Program, on Thursday.
Brookings Institution's Michael O'Hanlon, who believes NATO deserves
credit for keeping 40,000 troops in Afghanistan, said analysts dreaded
the timing of Hollande's election and the summit. "This has been a
concern ever since it became apparent very early this year that Mr.
Hollande would probably win."
Not everyone is a naysayer. Senate Foreign Relations European Affairs Subcommittee Chairwoman Jeanne Shaheen, R-N.H., in a Foreign Affairs
article, argued, "At this year's summit, the West must push back and
remind the world that the United States and its NATO allies still wield
unrivaled power to shape the world for the better."
But even Shaheen pressed NATO members to offer something tangible.
NATO, she wrote, must "plan a post-2014 relationship with Afghanistan
that is credible and realistic. Plans need to include specific troop
numbers and financial commitments from alliance members." She also
called for a "more realistic" sized ANSF, one that is affordable.
"The big if," warned Brookings' Steven Pifer, senior fellow and
director of the Arms Control Initiative, is located far outside NATO's
borders: Who succeeds Karzai? It's a topic only recently gaining
traction in Washington.
"Because if you get essentially the equivalent of a warlord winning,
then I think all bets are off, and we'll be trying to, you know, control
the damage at that point."