NATO’s New Clothes

I mentioned a WSJ article last week that reported that Georgia would be deploying a brigade to Afghanistan. That raised my eyebrows, since a Georgian brigade can be as much as 3,300 troops. But Joshua Keating found this WaPo article putting the number of Georgia troops at a more realistic 900. The WSJ article has since been revised to reflect that number as well, with no mention of a brigade anymore.

(Keating raises another interesting point, namely, why would Georgia think that contributing troops to Afghanistan will help its NATO chances, which I’ll try to discuss a bit later.)

As for the question of NATO answering President Barack Obama’s call for more troops, my broader point was that the numbers seemed to be massaged. And it looks like I’m not the only one who’s skeptical. Here’s Nightwatch’s John McCreary:

The numbers reports start to look like a shell game. TheNATO countries apparently are getting credit as supporting the U.S. newplan by double counting forces they deployed to improve security during theelections.

The is reporting as future increases some forces that are already counted inthe current totals of NATO and International Security Assistance Force. . . . This kind of troop math might make good soundbites in NATO and the U.S.,but the Taliban are not deceived.

In the meantime, South Korea has approved the deployment of 320 new troops, limiting their role to securing a team of reconstruction workers. With Georgia, plus Poland and Britain’s 600 each, and Italy’s 1,000, that gets us to about 3,500 honest-to-goodness new troops. As for the rest, it would be interesting to see the real breakdown, and exactly where and how they will be deployed.

Clearly, the fix was in to follow the president’s speech with a coordinated NATO lovefest. In a sense, that kind of coordinated news-shaping does represent a certain amount of political support. But it’s support that remains contained largely in the infosphere.

This post was updated for clarity.

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