Allen said that could mean that France would increase its participation in “training, mentoring, instructing” Afghan security forces. “All of those,” he said, “are important to the mission overall.” He noted that the U.S. role, too, is changing in much the same way.
“The nature of the mission, as it is evolving now, as our numbers get smaller, is evolving into an advisory mission,” Allen said.
At the Monday meetings, leaders will also discuss the expense of continued support for Afghanistan’s security forces after 2014.
The United States spent $12 billion last year, 95 percent of the total cost, to train and equip an Afghan army and police force that is expected to total 352,000 by this fall. With a gross domestic product of about $17 billion, Afghanistan is incapable of funding a force that size.
As it looks for a way to cut future costs and assumes an eventual political solution to the war among the Afghans themselves, the administration has projected that Afghanistan’s security needs could be met even if the force were cut by up to one-third. It estimates the cost of sustaining the reduced force at about $4.1 billion a year, half of which the United States would provide. Afghanistan would pay about $500,000.
Coalition members have been asked for commitments to fund most of the rest — in annual installments between 2015 and 2017 — up to about $1.3 billion a year. At the summit, “we would like to be able to say that we have a plan, and sufficient resources,” to carry it out, a senior administration official said.
NATO also plans to begin discussion of what the U.S. and NATO presence in Afghanistan will look like after the 2014 withdrawal deadline. The current NATO mission, known as ISAF, for International Security Assistance Force, officially ends at that point, and a new one will have to be agreed upon to cover ongoing training and assistance operations, which are planned to include an estimated tens of thousands of U.S. troops as well as other alliance contributions.