The Pentagon is pouring millions of dollars into equipment and training for its smaller partner nations in the Afghanistan war, a new effort aimed at encouraging them not to abandon the increasingly unpopular conflict. While the funding cannot be openly used as an incentive for NATO nations to send troops to or keep them in Afghanistan, the budding initiative sends the message that those who commit to the fight could be rewarded.
The money comes from a $350 million Pentagon program designed to improve the counterterrorism operations of US allies. The initial $50 million aid package will be aimed at six small countries—Georgia, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia—who together account for fewer than 1,300 troops in Afghanistan. Those troops will receive new equipment and training. "It's not bribery," says one counterterrorism expert. "We want them to be valuable partners. And some lack the resources to be partners in ways we need them."