Why Did Poland Announce It Was Sending 1000 Troops to Afghanistan?

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After it was announced on September 14, 2006, that the 26-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) refused to approve more NATO troops for Afghanistan, Poland said it would send an additional 1,000 troops to join the 100 it has in Afghanistan. The announcement made it seem as if they would be deployed immediately, in response to what can viewed as an urgent appeal from NATO commanders in southern Afghanistan.

The question should be: Why was the announcement made?

Well, if a report in the Daily Mail is accurate, there is a bit of subtefuge behind the announcement. According to a September 14, 2006, article by reporter Matthew Hickley, "Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer seized on the news, calling it a "very important step".

"But has it (sic) emerged that the Polish troops had long been expected as part of a planned rotation and will not arrive until February, [2006] despite frontline commanders' pleas for extra manpower now," Mr. Hickley wrote.

"To make matters worse," Mr. Hickley added, " the Poles will be restricted to peacekeeping in the relatively calm east around the capital Kabul, rather than joining the fighting in the volatile south.

"Poland also wants Nato to pay for their transport to the region."

Interestingly, Polish Defence minister Radoslaw Sikorski inadvertly, or perhaps deliberately, "let slip that Nato chiefs asked him to announce the long-planned move to give the impression of progress and encourage other allies to join the mission," Mr. Hicley said..

He quotes Mr. Mr Sikorski as telling journalist during a visit to Washington with Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski: "Nato's secretary general asked me to make the decision public today because it will help him mobilise more forces."

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