Opening remarks

by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers with non-NATO ISAF Contributing Nations

  • 10 Oct. 2012
  • |
  • Last updated: 10 Oct. 2012 10:17

Ministers,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We meet today to discuss our ISAF mission in Afghanistan, to reaffirm our strategy to hand over security responsibility to the Afghan forces, and to underline commitment to a strong, stable and sovereign Afghanistan.

ISAF is one of the largest, and most ambitious operations since World War Two. It is a coalition of fifty nations, united by the same goal. That Afghanistan can never again become a safe haven for terrorism.

Yes, there will be challenges, but make no mistake: we will see our mission through. Our strategy and our timeline remain unchanged.

In recent weeks, our commanders have put in place prudent and temporary measures to make sure that our troops have the security they need in the current environment.

But throughout this period, our troops have continued to operate with our Afghan partners.  Today, most ISAF units have resumed partnered operations.  And the ability of Afghan forces to maintain security continues to grow.

We will support the Afghan forces until they can take full responsibility for their country’s security.  And between now and the end of 2014, as the Afghans continue to step forward, you will see drawdowns and redeployments of ISAF forces. This is not about speeding up. It is part of the plan. This is a careful, deliberate and coordinated process involving all ISAF partners and the Afghan Government. 

When our ISAF mission ends at the end of 2014, we will offer a new mission to provide training, advice and assistance; this new mission will not be a combat mission.

Planning for that mission is well underway.  I expect we will endorse the broad framework for that new mission today, and allow our military experts to take the process forward.

A stable and secure future. That is what we all want for Afghanistan.  It is what the Afghans want for themselves.  And we remain determined and committed to make it a reality.

And with that, I thank the media for being with us this morning.