Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan

  • Last updated: 11 Feb. 2021 11:05

The NATO-led mission Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan was launched on 1 January 2015, following the completion of the mission of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). RSM provides further training, advice and assistance for the Afghan security forces and institutions. At the Brussels Summit in July 2018, Allies committed to sustaining the mission until conditions indicate a change is appropriate. NATO Allies have welcomed the start in September 2020 of intra-Afghan peace negotiations and urge the Afghan government and the Taliban to fulfill their commitments to working towards a comprehensive peace agreement. Allies will adjust their troop presence to support the peace process, while remaining committed to training and funding the Afghan security forces and institutions.

Around  10,000 personnel from 36 NATO member states and partner countries are deployed in support of the Resolute Support Mission (RSM).

RSM operates with one central hub (in Kabul/Bagram) and four spokes in Mazar-e Sharif, Herat, Kandahar and Laghman. It focuses primarily on training, advice and assistance activities at the security-related ministries, in the country’s institutions and among the senior ranks of the army and police. It works closely with different elements of the Afghan army, police and air force.

Key functions include:

  • Supporting planning, programming and budgeting;
  • Assuring transparency, accountability and oversight;
  • Supporting the adherence to the principles of rule of law and good governance;
  • Supporting the establishment and sustainment of such processes as force generation, recruiting, training, managing and development of personnel.

Key decisions on RSM

The decision to launch a follow-on, NATO-led non-combat mission to continue supporting the development of the Afghan security forces after the end of ISAF’s mission in December 2014 was jointly agreed between Allies and partners with the Afghan government at the NATO Summit in Chicago in 2012. This commitment was reaffirmed at the Wales Summit in 2014.

The legal framework for RSM is provided by a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which was signed in Kabul on 30 September 2014 by the Afghan President and NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, and later ratified by the Afghan Parliament on 27 November 2014. The SOFA defines the terms and conditions under which NATO forces will be deployed in Afghanistan as part of Resolute Support, as well as the activities that they are set to carry out under this agreement.

The agreement between NATO and Afghanistan on the establishment of the new mission was welcomed by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2189. Unanimously adopted on 12 December 2014, it underscores the importance of continued international support for the stability of Afghanistan.

In December 2015, at the foreign ministers’ meeting of NATO Allies and their RSM partners, it was agreed to sustain the RSM presence, including in the regions of Afghanistan, during 2016. Six months later, in May 2016, they agreed to sustain the RSM presence beyond 2016 – a decision that was confirmed by Allied leaders at the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July.

At a meeting of defence ministers in November 2017, RSM troop-contributing nations confirmed that the number of troops deployed would increase from around 13,000 to around 16,000 troops.

Intra -Afghan peace negotiations were launched at a ceremony in Doha on 12 September 2020. NATO Allies urge the Afghan government and the Taliban to fulfill their commitments to working towards a comprehensive peace agreement that puts an end to violence, and builds on the progress of the last 19 years to safeguard human rights, uphold the rule of law, and ensure that Afghanistan never again serves as a haven for terrorists. Conditions-based adjustments will be made to the Resolute Support Mission to support the peace efforts. 

Beyond the training, advice and assistance mission, Allies and partner countries remain committed to the broader international community’s support for the long-term financial sustainment of the Afghan security forces until the end of 2020 (see ANA Trust Fund). At the 2018 Brussels Summit, Allies and partners agreed to extend their commitment to supporting the financial sustainment of the Afghan security forces through 2024.