Transition ceremony kicks off Resolute Support Mission
KABUL, Afghanistan – Thirteen years after its creation through the signing of the Bonn Agreement in Germany, the International Security Assistance Force concluded operations in an event today transitioning to the new, NATO-led Resolute Support mission.
The solemn ceremony, held at the ISAF Headquarters, paid tribute to the international efforts launched in 2001 by the NATO-led coalition as they worked with Afghan partners.
“Today marks an end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Resolute Support will serve as the bedrock of our enduring partnership with Afghanistan” said Resolute Support Commander, U.S. Army General John F. Campbell.
The Resolute Support mission will consist of more than 12,500 troops focused on building Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) sustainability. 28 NATO Allies and 14 partner nations will contribute to the mission in different ways.
ISAF’s original mandate was to assist the newly-established Afghan Transitional Authority in and around Kabul. The scope and scale of ISAF’s mission grew as the Coalition added Provincial Reconstruction Teams and took on the responsibility to provide security while Afghan security forces were growing in strength.
A critical function throughout the effort was the mentoring and training of Afghan forces.
ISAF’s lasting legacy, accomplished with Afghan partners, was the establishment of a 350,000-strong security force, which today is fully responsible for security in Afghanistan. During the course of the 2014 fighting season, the ANSF prevented the Taliban from disrupting national elections allowing more than seven million Afghans to exercise their right to vote. This led to the establishment of the Afghan National Unity Government, which marked the first peaceful democratic transition of power in Afghan history.
“Now is the time to write the next chapter in our story,” said General Hans-Lothar Domrose, Joint Force Command Brunssum Commander, referring to the launch of Resolute Support.
Under Resolute Support, efforts to train, advise, and assist Afghan Security Institutions (ASI) and the ANSF at the ministerial, operational, and institutional levels will focus on eight essential functions: Multi-year Budgeting (EF 1); Transparency, Accountability and Oversight (EF 2); Civilian Governance of the ASI (EF 3); Force Generation (EF 4); Sustainment (EF 5); Strategy and Policy Planning, resourcing, and Execution (EF 6); Intelligence (EF 7); and Strategic Communication (EF 8).
These eight essential functions comprise the systems and processes required for the professionalism and sustainability of the ASI and ANSF.
“We need your help to build the systems necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of our forces,” said Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor. “This is a formidable challenge for any modern army and police force.”
Basic measurements of progress across all major sectors of society have shown improvement: life expectancy is rising; mobile communication technology is expanding; an independent media corps is flourishing; and school enrollment is up from one to well over seven million children in the past decade with one third being females. This was inconceivable 13 years ago.
The international community continues to pledge support and financial commitment to help foster an Afghan Decade of Transformation. These efforts will be undertaken with the leadership of President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Both leaders have reinforced their pledges for transparency and accountability.
As the ceremony concluded, General Campbell gave his final thoughts and assessment on the progress made by Afghan and international partners.
“Together, we have lifted the Afghan people out of the darkness of despair and given them hope for the future. We’re very proud of our relationship - a relationship built on trust, friendship, and shared interests. That trust and a common vision for a stable, secure, and unified Afghanistan fills me with confidence that we’ll continue to be successful. The road before us remains challenging, but we will triumph.”
On behalf of President Ashraf Ghani and the Afghan people, Mohammad Hanif Atmar expressed his gratitude for the Coalition’s effort and sacrifices, “We will never forget your sons and daughters who have died on our soil. They are now our sons and daughters. Afghan and Coalition personnel have spilled their blood to ensure a brighter future for our country and to bring peace to the world.”