By Dialogo August 25, 2011 The Salvadoran executive branch has requested from the Legislative Assembly the approval of a transitory decree permitting it to send Soldiers to Afghanistan, where the country seeks to participate, as a member of the United Nations, in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in that Middle Eastern nation. At a plenary session of the Salvadoran Congress, it was decided to send the request to the Defense Commission for more detailed analysis and the preparation of recommendations for the full Salvadoran Assembly, made up of 84 deputies who will ultimately decide the approval or rejection of President Mauricio Funes’s initiative. The president of Congress, Sigfrido Reyes, revealed that the president’s proposal seeks to send Salvadoran military personnel to participate in training activities in Afghanistan. According to a military source quoted by the Salvadoran newspaper La Prensa Gráfica [The Illustrated Press], “it’s 22 military personnel; they are expected to be military instructors and will not go to any combat zones.” The source added that the instruction is expected to be provided to Afghan military and police personnel. The Government plans to send the military personnel in late August, although this will depend on the political support it receives in the legislature. The Soldiers are expected to remain in the country until October 13, but their stay could be extended if the United Nations decides to extend the mission in that Asian nation. “The mission in Afghanistan is renewed each year, and this one ends in October, so the normal thing would be that they’ll extend it another year,” explained the mentioned source, who was confident that the legislature would approve sending troops. The Salvadoran paper maintained the anonymity of the military spokesperson. In the middle of last year, the head of the Joint General Staff of the Salvadoran Armed Forces, Francisco Salinas, visited the Belgian headquarters of the central command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which was looking for troops from non-member countries to participate in the military mission in Afghanistan. In late 2001, the United Nations Security Council authorized the creation of a force made up of NATO troops, which assisted Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s administration after the fall of the Taliban regime. On that occasion, Salinas also visited NATO’s forward military base of operations in Afghanistan. The Salvadoran foreign minister, Hugo Martínez, revealed on a radio program in March that Afghanistan had requested the country’s cooperation. El Salvador previously provided troops to the mission conducted in Iraq between 2003 and 2008, as a member of the international coalition led by the United States, suffering five fatalities and more than thirty wounded.
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