ISAF Defence Ministers prepare for transition milestone
Defence Ministers from NATO and partner nations assessed the progress made since the transition to Afghan security responsibility began two years ago, and looked ahead to future tasks at a meeting in Brussels on 22 February. “There have been challenges. But in those two years we have made real progress,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
The 50 members of the ISAF coalition, the Defence Minister of Afghanistan, and representatives from the United Nations and the European Union were briefed by the new Commander of ISAF, General Joseph Dunford.
Transition to Afghan security responsibility began in 2011, and is due to conclude at the end of 2014. Currently, the Afghan forces are taking the lead for security in areas where 87% of the Afghan population Iives.
“The Afghan security forces have grown more capable and confident. They are better trained and educated and more effective,” Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said.
In a matter of months, the Afghan forces are expected to start moving into the lead throughout Afghanistan. At the same time, ISAF’s main effort will shift from combat to support.
“That will be an important milestone. It will mark the progress we have made with Afghan forces in command of combat operations across the nation. And we will make sure that Afghan forces have the support they need as they assume full responsibility for their own security by the end of 2014,” the Secretary General said.
NATO will lead a new mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces from 2015 onwards. A number of partners have also committed to join the new mission, which is currently being planned.
Today, Ministers reinforced their commitment on the way forward for the new mission. “This will be a different mission from ISAF and will be significantly smaller in size. Our new mission will focus on national and institutional level training. And we envision a regional approach more limited than our current mission. But Afghans can be confident that our support will go well beyond the end of transition in 2014”, Mr Fogh Rasmussen said.
He stressed that security is only one part of the challenge and that it is just as important to build good governance and reinforce democracy and human rights.
The Secretary General said that NATO and the broader international community will continue to help Afghanistan. “But it is for the Afghan people to shape their country’s future. We can help build security but only the Afghan people can build their society”, he concluded.