According to Jean-Dominique Merchet at the Secret Défense blog, France is likely to send several hundred additional troops to Afghanistan. While the actual increase is modest, the reasoning behind it has wider implications and aims to shore up one of the weak links in the NATO effort there: chain of command.
If Merchet’s information is correct, and he’s pretty plugged in, the additional troops will allow the French forces in Afghanistan to regroup into a unified brigade in the east of the country where they are already deployed. French forces now stationed in Kabul would also be integrated into the command, which would entail turning Kabul security over to Afghan army units.
That’s about all the eau I think President-elect Barack Obama is going to squeeze out of this pierre, and if Britain’s recent decision to send an additional 300 troops (that’s a three with two zeros behind it) to Afghanistan is any indication, he’s not going to find much more elsewhere. (Merchet mentions a figure of 2000 British troops, but I haven’t been able to find that anywhere else. Any links would be welcome.)
The implications for the Afghanistan troop surge are obvious. Gen. David Petraeus recently told a gathering in Rome that the U.S. would be supplying the 20,000 troops requested by NATO commanders in Afghanistan, and that anything Europe added on top of that would be gravy. From the looks of things, there’s not going to be a whole lot of gravy to spread around.