It has been exactly eight years since foreign troops began their mission in Afghanistan.
After initial success, the number of deaths among NATO forces has surged in the last four years. The US military has borne the brunt of the casualties but other countries are also faced with ever more frequent losses. The latest victim was a Spanish corporal who died when his vehicle drove over a mine in Herat province. In Spain, as in other NATO countries, there are calls to withdraw troops but NATO leaders are urging the opposite. “It is important not only for this operation but also for the long-term health of the transatlantic relationship that the non-US allies also find a way to contribute more to the mission,” says NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen. There are around 35,000 non-US troops in Afghanistan, representing 40 different countries. Sending more is becoming an increasingly difficult decision for their governments to make.