NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen congratulated President Karzai on “this critical decision which paves the way for Afghans to take charge of their own destiny.”
The decision, which follows months of close consultation and planning between the Afghan government and ISAF, marks the first step in the realisation of President Karzai’s wish to see the Afghan national security forces lead security operations across Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
“They want to be in charge of their own lives so we are going with the grain of what the people want and that is what counter-insurgency is about”, NATO Senior Civilian Representative Mark Sedwill stressed.
Transition implementation is scheduled to start shortly and will follow a four-stage process in all areas of security, governance, development and rule of law. Progress through those four stages will be dictated by conditions on the ground, as Afghan security forces and civil institutions demonstrate their ability to take on more responsibility. It could take up to 18 months for the process to be fully completed in any given area.
ISAF’s operations in these seven areas will now move to Phase 4 – Transition –and evolve gradually towards a more supporting and advisory role. This will allow for a rebalancing of responsibilities with Afghan security forces assuming the lead in the decision-making, planning and conduct of security conditions. The development of ANA and ANP capacity is key to ensuring that this process is successful and irreversible. ISAF’s Provincial Reconstruction Teams will also focus increasingly on technical assistance and capacity building.
ISAF operations in other areas remain in Phase 3 – Stabilisation. Assessment of other areas continues under the auspices of the Joint Afghan-NATO Inteqal Board (JANIB). Inteqal means transition in both Dari and Pashtu. The JANIB will consider additional districts and provinces for transition in the second half of 2011.