Nearly 120,000 Troops From 47 Countries Serve in ISAF
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2010 The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan now has almost 120,000 troops from 47 different countries assigned to it, NATO officials said yesterday.
The United States provides 78,430 of that total, part of the roughly 100,000 American troops now based in the country. The top leadership is all American, with Army Gen. David H. Petraeus commanding ISAF and U.S. Forces Afghanistan. Army Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez commands the ISAF Joint Command, and Army Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell commands NATO Training Mission Afghanistan.
The largest regional command in Afghanistan is in the south, with 35,000 troops. The command is focused on Kandahar, the country’s second-largest city and the spiritual home of the Taliban. Regional Command South is under the command of British army Maj. Gen. Nick Carter.
Kandahar is the focus of counterinsurgency efforts now. The American presence in the region is significant, with U.S. troops around the city, in the Arghandab River valley and guarding the road network linking the city with the rest of the country. Canadians run the provincial reconstruction team in Kandahar, Australians operate the team in Tarin Kowt, and the team in Qalat is American-run.
The next-largest regional command is in the east, with 32,000 personnel. Regional Command East is built around the 101st Airborne Division headquarters, with Army Maj. Gen. John Campbell commanding. In addition to the U.S. troops, a brigade of French troops and a Polish brigade also serve in the command. Ten of the 14 provincial reconstruction teams in the area are staffed by Americans. The Czech Republic mans the team in Logar, New Zealand operates the team in Bamyan, Turkey handles Wardak, and South Korea has troops at the team in Parwan.
Regional Command South West is the next-largest command, with 27,000 troops. The command covers Helmand and Nimroz provinces, with most of the troops in Helmand. Marines provide most of the American manpower in the region, and they work closely with British forces there. Denmark and Georgia also have forces in the area. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard Mills commands from his headquarters in Lashkar Gah.
With 11,000 troops, Regional Command North is keeping watch on an area that is experiencing a growth in Taliban activity. Commanded by German army Maj. Gen. Hans-Werner Fritz in Mazar-e Sharif, the command has a smorgasbord of nationalities. The Germans work seamlessly with Norwegians, Swedes, Hungarians and Turks. U.S. forces are based in the area as part of the Afghan army and police training effort.
The Italians command Regional Command West, based in Herat. The 9,000 coalition troops cover an area stretching from the middle of the country to the border with Iran. Spanish, Lithuanian and American troops are the mainstays under the command of Italian Brig. Gen. Claudio Berto.
Finally, Regional Command Capital encompasses the area in and around the Afghan capital of Kabul. Turkish Brig. Gen. Levent Colak commands the 5,000-member command, which is basically Turkish and Spanish. The command has been turning over security responsibility to Afghan forces over the past couple of months, but the Afghans still work under the guidance and mentorship of the command.
After the United States, the country with the largest number of troops with ISAF is the United Kingdom with 9,500, followed by Germany with 4,590. France is next with 3,750, followed by Italy with 3,400, Canada with 2,830, Poland with 2,630, Romania with 1,760, Turkey with 1,740, Spain with 1,555, and Australia with 1,455.