Bulgarian peacekeepers leave Afghanistan and BiH
According to a press release, disseminated by the press service of the Bulgarian Council of Ministers on 13 June, the Bulgarian government has decided to withdraw its peacekeepers, who were part of the four operational groups for training and communication, from participation in ISAF operations in Afghanistan. However, the Bulgarian authorities will dispatch four teams of advisers to train Afghan units of security forces as of 1 September this year.
As the press release clarified, this change was consistent with the adopted in 2011 by the Government strategy to transform the participation of the armed forces of the Republic in ISAF, as well as in accordance with NATO's strategy to support the Afghan government in the process of transition and transfer of responsibilities to maintain security in the hands of the Afghan national security forces.
The four teams of advisers will consist of 80 people whose main tasks would be, inter alia, implementation of advisory functions with regard to the commanders of the Afghan national security forces at appropriate level, training and mentoring of subdivisions.
In addition to the decision on ISAF, the Bulgarian authorities decided to terminate participation of troops in in the military operation in the EU military operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR - ALTHEA). Nevertheless, the government allowed deployment and use of up to 150 soldiers - 140 in the composition of the company in the interim regional reserve of "Althea" and 10 (as a national support element) in the operation headquarters and its subordinate structures. The company and the national support element will be located in Bulgaria with a 10-day standby for deployment at the request of the commander of the operation.
According to the press release, this change in participation was determined by the sustainability of the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the decision to reduce the forces of the operation from 1200 to 600 people.
The contribution of Bulgaria to the recovery missions in Iraq and Afghanistan was praised and emphasized many times, including by the CIA Director David H. Petraeus who as on a unofficial visit to the country in the period 5-7 June.
New Europereminds that Bulgaria will participate in financing the Afghan security forces with $500 000 per year after 2014. This was stated by the president, Rosen Plevneliev, at the NATO Summit in Chicago. He also announced that Bulgaria will participate in the process of educating and training Afghan security forces.
The announced Bulgarian sum of $500 000 per annum is the minimum amount which eligible NATO members could contribute. The total amount of $4.1 billion per year of state contributions to the security assistance plan will be divided the following way: $2.8 billion to be covered by the U.S., while the rest $1.3 billion-by the other members of the international coalition in Afghanistan.