NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Afghan commandos on Nov. 6 that NATO will continue to support them even after the Dec. 31 International Security Assistance Force mission ends, according to a Pentagon release. “We will begin a new training, advise and assist mission,” Stoltenberg said in a speech at Camp Morehead in Afghanistan’s Kabul province, referring to NATO’s new Operation Resolute Support mission, which will begin Jan. 1. “We will continue our efforts to ensure Afghanistan’s army and police remain strong.” The Secretary General also noted that gains in Afghanistan over the past few years, and the sacrifices made to get them, have been too great to allow them to go away. “I am here to confirm NATO’s continued commitment to stand with you,” he said, calling for quick legislative action to authorize the status of forces agreement, which will allow forces to remain in the country post-2014. Stoltenberg also praised the new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah. “You have both shown your commitment to a partnership on behalf of the Afghan people, and I salute your leadership,” he said.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.