NATO and senior Afghan officials welcome enhanced relationship
A delegation of senior representatives of the new Afghan administration met Alliance officials to review defence and security objectives during a visit to NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium from 20 to 24 October.
Representatives of the Afghan General Staff, National Directorate of Security and Ministries of Defence, Interior and Foreign Affairs examined national security policy documents and inter-ministerial processes with senior NATO officials. Discussions focused on the way forward and identifying best practices after the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission concludes at the end of 2014.
“The end of ISAF marks a new beginning in the NATO-Afghanistan relationship. As we approach this new turning point, NATO is strongly committed to long-term partnership,” said NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow to the delegation.
Academic seminars provided the Afghan delegation with the opportunity to confer with experienced academics from the US Army War College, the Romanian National Defense University and the UK Defence Academy in the framework of NATO’s Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP). They debated issues such as defence planning and inter-agency coordination, as well as the art of strategic thinking and its application in the Afghan security environment.
Ambassador Francesca Tardioli, Deputy Assistant Secretary General at NATO’s Operations Division, affirmed that the DEEP initiative was “the perfect example of how Afghanistan and NATO can evolve from a relationship based on operational cooperation towards a relation of partnership where we elaborate programmes that are tailor-made to respond to Afghan needs.”
Defence Education Enhancement Programmes are tailored programmes through which the Alliance advises partners on how to build, develop and reform educational institutions in the security, defence and military domains. They focus in particular on faculty building and curriculum development, covering areas such as teaching methodology, leadership and operational planning.
"I look forward to the day when the Afghan military is capable of contributing to global peace and security the same way any other responsible member of the international community does,” said Maj Gen Shah Wali Ghayor, Director for Policy and Strategy for the Afghan Ministry of Defence. "We appreciate NATO’s tremendous efforts in Afghanistan, and we will soon be shouldering the full responsibility of our country’s security thanks to the valuable training we have received from our great friends and allies,” he continued.
It was the first visit by senior Afghan officials to NATO Headquarters since the country’s presidential inauguration. A separate Afghan delegation also participated in a DEEP Executive Senior Leaders Seminar at Allied Command Operations in Mons, Belgium from 13 to 17 October.
"What we learned is very significant in improving our performance and ensuring, through appropriate and professional planning, the efficient use of the international assistance to Afghan security forces,” Maj Gen Shah Wali Ghayor added. “We need to take advantage of DEEP so that young officers can avail themselves of the highest level of strategic education,” he emphasised.
Deputy Assistant Minister of Defence of Afghanistan, Maj Gen Assadullah Akramyar reinforced the value of his country’s continuing relationship with NATO. “Wales was an affirmation of the friendship forged between NATO and Afghanistan, and it brought us a sense of achievement in our efforts on the road to democracy,” he said. “Our new leadership is privileged to walk along this route. The Afghan National Security Forces are determined to use the support of the international community judiciously, in order to become reliable defenders of our common interests of peace and security,” he continued.
Deputy Assistant Secretary General for NATO’s Political Affairs and Security Policy Division James Appathurai stressed the significance of the new relationship between Afghanistan and the international community and said, “I look forward to the evolution in our relationship, from operational cooperation to a normal partnership, where we work together as equals to solve common security challenges.”
The programme was conducted by NATO's Political Affairs and Security Policy Division with the support of the Military Partnership Directorate at Allied Command Operations (ACO), Allied Command Transformation (ACT) and NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division.