Stoltenberg made the remarks during a press conference following the NATO foreign ministerial in Brussels.
In response to a question on the alliance’s counter-terrorism efforts, Stoltenberg said “NATO already plays a key role in the fight against terrorism. We have to remember that our biggest military operation ever, our presence in Afghanistan, is about fighting terrorism. It’s about preventing Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for international terrorism.”
He said “And we are there to help and support the Afghan forces in fighting many different terrorist groups and fighting the Taliban.”
“Let me add one more thing – and that is that I think an important lesson learned from Kosovo, from Bosnia Herzegovina and from Afghanistan, is that in the long run, it is much better to fight terrorism and project stability by training local forces, building local security institutions, instead of NATO deploying large numbers of our own combat troops in combat operations,” he added.
He also added that “That’s exactly what we do in Afghanistan – we have ended our combat operation, but we build local capacity by training the Afghan forces so they can fight the Taliban themselves. And that’s also what we do in Iraq by training local forces there.”
The US Secretary of State Rex Tiller also said the work of the alliance in Afghanistan remains critical as he insists continued support to the Afghan forces to enable them fight terrorist groups and prevent the country from becoming the safe haven of the terrorist groups.
Reaffirming the US support to the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, Tiller said “NATO’s work in Afghanistan remains critical. The United States is committed to the Resolute Support Mission and to our support for Afghan forces.”