Finland to slash Afghanistan troop deployment

There are currently 60 Finnish military personnel deployed in Afghanistan - that number will soon be cut to just 20.

File picture of Finnish area of operations in Afghanistan / Credit: Finnish Defence Forces

The Finnish Defence Forces says its cutting the number of troops deployed to Afghanistan, with two-thirds set to come home.

There are currently 60 Finnish soldiers deployed to the city of Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanstan, working with German forces in a training and advisory capacity. After reorganisation, there will be 20 Finns left.

Finnish troops have been involved as partners in the NATO-lead Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan since January 2015.

The overall mission has an aim of supporting the Afghan government to secure peaceful conditions for reconstruction and democracy and Finnish troops are not involved in combat operations.

File picture of Afghanistan flag / Credit: iStock

Background to Finland’s troop reduction

The announcement comes at a crucial time for Afghanistan, with ongoing historic peace talks in Qatar between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and a recent announcement of a sudden American troop draw-down by the administration of outgoing US President Donald Trump.

Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) told News Now Finland recently that the security situation, and whether it remains stable without US troops, is one of the biggest concerns for Afghanistan and the international community.

“I’m of the opinion there shouldn’t be any too-rapid changes, or at least things should be well organised and well coordinated between the international community and the Afghan government” Haavisto said of the US plan to cut the number of troops in half by the middle of January.  

The minister says an American pull-out now impacts the ability of Afghanistan’s government to control areas that remain relatively stable only thanks to the presence of US troops; and that same security allows other NATO countries and their allies, like Finland, to continue to operate.

“Whenever somebody is reducing the amount of troops, it might have an effect to the others.”

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