Denmark shifts focus in Afghanistan

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Denmark shifts focus in Afghanistan
Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers participate in a combat training exercise in Kabul on October 22nd. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/Scanpix

The Danish government has released an Afghanistan strategy for the next three years that prioritizes civilian efforts over military contributions.


The Foreign Ministry on Thursday announced a strategy that “marks a new phase” in Denmark’s role in Afghanistan by shifting from military contributions to a more advisory role in the nation.
By 2015, Afghans will assume full responsibility for the country’s security and nation-building efforts, and Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said a new commitment from the international community “is what Afghanistan needs.”
"I'm glad to see the broad political support for the ongoing Danish engagement in Afghanistan. With this strategy, Denmark will continue to be a significant contributor to providing security and development in Afghanistan. That is what Afghanistan needs. And it is in our own interest,” Lidegaard said in a statement. 
“The new strategy is a natural contribution in Afghanistan's transition. Afghanistan now has the full responsibility for the country’s security and social development, but they will need support in the coming years,” he added. 
Defence Minister Nicolai Wammen said that Denmark will contribute around 160 people at the outset of 2015, including counsellors in the Kabul region and a transport helicopter in the northern part of the country. 
“I am very pleased that we in the group of political parties behind the Afghanistan effort have reached agreement on a strategy that will ensure that we, as a solidary member of NATO, build on the results already achieved by the Danish and allied soldiers,” Wammen said. 
According to a report from AFP, Afghan casualties have increased significantly over the past two years as Nato forces have handed over the majority of combat duties to the Afghanistan. The US military estimated this month that  as many as 9,000 Afghan police or troops had been killed or wounded so far this year. 
Denmark’s formal military engagement ended in July 2013 after 12 years, but residuals forces remain in the country today. The war cost 43 Danish lives and a total of 20 billion kroner ($3.6 billion). 
In August, Lidegaard called for a thorough examination of Denmark’s participation in the Afghanistan War in order to "learn from both good and bad experiences”.


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