NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization

04 Feb. 201005 Feb. 2010

Defence Ministers to focus on operations and transformation in Istanbul

Allied Defence Ministers will gather in Istanbul on 4 and 5 February 2010 to discuss a number of issues on NATO’s agenda, including the evolving NATO-led operation in Afghanistan, NATO’s engagement in Kosovo and defence transformation.

On Friday, Ministers will exchange views on the operation in Afghanistan with their non-NATO partners of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Topics to be discussed include the need to fully fulfil the training and mentoring requirements for the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan (NTM-A).

The NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said at a press conference early this week: “We are still short of 21 training teams concerning training of the Afghan army, and as far as the Afghan police is concerned, we are still short of more than 100 training teams. As training is an investment in transition, I will continue to push hard on this.”

Particular focus will also be placed on the implementation of the plans agreed at the International Conference on Afghanistan which took place in London on 28 January. “What has to happen now is implementation: implementation by the Afghan Government, to take forward its ambitious and necessary plans; implementation by the international community to fund and support those plans,” said the Secretary General.

The Afghan Minister of Interior and Minister of Defence, Mr. Mohammad Hanif Atmar and Mr. Abdul Rahim Wardak, will take part in these discussions, as well as the European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton and the United Nations High Representative Kai Eide.

The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Admiral James Stavridis, the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT) General Stéphane Abrial and the ISAF Commander, General Stanley McChrystal, will also participate in the meeting.

With regard to Kosovo, NATO Ministers will take stock of the Alliance’s engagement in light of the considerable progress achieved on the ground. KFOR, the NATO Force in Kosovo, has recently downsized its number of troops to approximately 10,000 and has moved to a more flexible structure.

At a working dinner held on Thursday, NATO Ministers will discuss the transformation efforts required to best conduct the full range of NATO’s agreed missions. Addressing resources, Ministers will look at how to get the most value for hard-pressed national defence budgets in today’s economic climate. They will discuss how to enhance NATO’s capacity to counter Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), fielding additional helicopters and improving medical treatment for deployed forces.