Belgium could halve its contingent in Afghanistan by 2012, announced the Belgian Minister of Defense Pieter De Crem, quoted by Western media.
This is part of the gradual reduction of U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan, recently announced by President Barack Obama.
Belgium joins a growing number of NATO nations intending to recall large numbers of troops from Afghanistan. America’s NATO European allies and several partner countries contribute about 40,000 troops to the NATO force.
The Belgian contingent in Afghanistan has 580 men, half of which provide security for the airport in the capital, Kabul. Other soldiers are deployed in Kandahar province (south). Six Belgian F-16 are also engaged in operations.
June 22, Obama announced the withdrawal in 2011 of 10,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan. Repatriation should begin next month. In 2014, responsibility for security in the country should be transferred to Afghan troops.