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Two thirds of Finnish troops in Afghanistan sent home

Finland's soldiers have been involved in Operation Resolute Support since the outset of the mission in 2015.

Suomalaiset rauhanturvajoukot Afganistanissa.
About 20 Finnish peacekeepers will remain in Afghanistan. Image: Markku Tölli / Puolustusvoimat

The number of Finnish soldiers in the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan will decrease from about 60 to 20, the Finnish Defence Forces revealed in a press release.

The operation aims to provide training, advice and assistance to Afghan security forces and institutions in their attempts to tackle extremist groups such as the Taliban.

The share of Finnish soldiers involved will be reduced and the Finnish security team will return home, as the operation has been reorganised and certain tasks have ended. The changes will take effect immediately.

Finland’s Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen (Cen) said in an interview at the beginning of October that the group of about 60 Finnish soldiers could be repatriated sometime in 2021, with Finland’s involvement in the operation likely to end in the spring.

However, outgoing United States President Donald Trump announced in November that the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan would be nearly halved by the time his one-term presidency ends in January.

This would reduce the amount of U.S. ground troops in Afghanistan to about 2,500, which would be the lowest level since the war began in 2001.

At the time, Kaikkonen criticised the United States decision to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

Operation Resolute Support began in January 2015, and Finnish soldiers have been involved since the beginning. They are currently mainly operating in the northern command area of the mission in Mazar-e-Sharif, the country’s fourth largest city.

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