Britain urges Europe to do more in Afghanistan
Britain urged its European NATO partners to show greater commitment to the war in Afghanistan, saying they could not afford to leave the burden of fighting to the United States, reported Reuters.
"Freeloading on the back of U.S. military security is not an option for anyone who wants to be equal partners in this transatlantic alliance," Defence Secretary John Hutton said in excerpts of a speech to be delivered on Thursday.
Reviewing the campaign in Afghanistan, which began in 2001 shortly after the September 11 attacks on the United States, Hutton criticized some European NATO members for not investing enough in their armed forces and relying too heavily on the U.S. for their security.
"The campaign in Afghanistan -- every bit as important to European member states' security as it is to the security of the United States -- has exposed three things," Hutton said.
He listed these as: "A legacy of underinvestment by some European member states in their armed forces, significant variance in political commitment to the campaign and underneath it all a continued over-reliance, from certain members, on the U.S. to do the heavy lifting."
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office on Tuesday, is expected to send up to 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan to tackle the Taliban insurgency.
The United States already has more than 30,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, of a total foreign force there of more than 65,000 from more than 40 nations.
The Americans have long called for their NATO allies to send more troops to Afghanistan and remove restrictions on their operations that can keep them away from the front line.
Britain has the second biggest force at 8,700, more than twice as many troops as Germany, France and Italy.