Belgium to cut in half its Afghan contingent

AP News
Posted: Jun 26, 2011 8:09 AM
Belgium to cut in half its Afghan contingent

Belgium's defense minister is proposing to withdraw half of the nation's 580 troops from Afghanistan by next year.

Defense Minister Pieter De Crem said Sunday the pullout would be in line with President Barack Obama's announcement of the start of the U.S. withdrawal next month. Washington intends to cut a third of its 100,000 troops by next summer.

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.

Half of the Belgian troops provide security for Kabul airport. The rest are based mainly in Kandahar in the south, where six Belgian F-16 fighters are deployed.