They may have a common purpose, but NATO commanders are deeply divided over the war effort in Afghanistan.
While fighting continues on the ground, the alliance’s leaders have been locked in battle with each other at a meeting in Lithuania. The US and Britain want other countries including France and Germany to send more forces to the south, the most dangerous part of the country.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has spoken about a NATO split between those who are willing to “fight and die” and those who are not.
There were no new offers after the talks, but France and Germany are considering further deployments.
Berlin says it is limited by its owns laws and France say it is restricted by troop commitments elsewhere.
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer played down the disharmony:
“All allies without exception – and the’yre all there in Afghanistan – were of the opinion that we are there having entered (into) a longterm commitment. Development and reconstruction takes a lot of time – that does not mean that it takes a generation, one can say. That does not mean we’ll be there militarily for a generation.”
The Afghanistan conflict is the toughest battle NATO has had to face in its almost sixty year history. It also appears to be its most divisive.