|Updated: 28-Oct-2008||IMS News Release|
23 Oct. 2008
Military Committee concludes its visit to Afghanistan
Kabul, Afghanistan – NATO’s Military Committee (MC) concluded its visit to Afghanistan today. Military Representatives from the 26 NATO nations and from the non-NATO Troop-Contributing Nations to ISAF were updated on NATO’s operation ISAF, and the current evolution of the security situation in Afghanistan. “We wanted not only to testify to NATO’s continuing military commitment in Afghanistan with ISAF, but also to get a firsthand knowledge of the situation on the ground from the perspective of local authorities and commanders”, said Admiral Di Paola, Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, heading the NATO delegation.
During the visit, the Committee met with ISAF Commander, General David Mc Kiernan, who briefed on progress as well as continuing challenges. General Bob Cone, the Commander of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, briefed on the training of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). These two key briefings provided excellent information on the overall direction of the military campaign and the progress of development of Afghan National Security Forces. Specific briefings was dedicated to the counter-narcotic issue, and to the voter registration process, now underway.
The Military Committee also met with NATO Senior Civilian Representative, Ambassador Fernando Gentilini, the Afghan Minister of Defence, Mr. Abdul Rahim Wardak, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Mr. Kai Eide, and representatives from the EUPOL mission. A delegation from the MC also visited the Afghan Ministry of Interior and the Afghan Ministry of Public Health.
These individual meetings greatly contributed to providing in-depth analysis of the security situation, governance, reconstruction and development, which are currently the main lines of operation for the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS). Discussions with these different authorities are considered fundamental in gaining understanding and for taking the NATO’s mission forward in a coherent and correct manner. This new and more comprehensive approach, in line with current NATO thinking, is a concept which encourages a wider political-military response, engaging both the International Community and Afghanistan’s national authorities.
“Bringing together all the different actors involved in this delicate mission is paramount to achieveing success”, said Admiral Di Paola, “We must incorporate coherently and concretely the vast range of activities we undertake, from security to reconstruction and mentoring, working closely with the Afghan authorities to deliver real benefits to the Afghan people”.
Encouraging signs of progress were noted throughout discussions with the various authorities, despite continuing difficulties facing ISAF and the International Community. All parties agreed that governance was improving, a welcome sign that Afghanistan is taking greater ownership of the process of change. The Committee had an informative briefing from Minister Wardak on the Afghan National Security Forces, and in particular on the continuing progress of the Afghan National Army (ANA), and more recently the Afghan National Police (ANP), which the Committee was able to assess during its visit to the National Interdiction Unit (NIU) in Kabul. A self-sustaining ANSF plays an essential role in improving safety across the country and assuring long-term security. The Committee reaffirmed its strong military support, particularly through training the ANA, and confirmed its clear and common understanding of what is needed to reach objectives as rapidly as possible. It also underlined the value and importance of the Operational Mentoring Liaison Teams (OMLT’s) in partnership with ANSF, a fundamental project that Nations must continue to support.
NATO’s Military Representatives also met with local Afghan Governors, and Commanders of the Regional Commands, Task Forces, PRTs, as well as NATO and Afghan units. “We get the sense that the ANA commanders and soldiers are a real success story. Their coordination with ISAF is improving, and they are demonstrating every day their value and their great motivation. Afghan people must be as proud of their Army as we are”, said Admiral Di Paola after visiting an ANA unit in Kandahar Province.
NATO’s Military Representatives took time out to visit their national troops, seeing for themselves the high degree of motivation of NATO’s soldiers in their daily efforts to contribute to creating better conditions for peace and security.
“We do not hide the difficulties we are facing”, concluded the Military Committee Chairman. “It is undeniable that the overall situation is still problematic, but we need to witness what we have seen and heard: tangible signs of progress, that are really encouraging and lead us and the International Community towards even greater efforts to support Afghanistan in its struggle for a more secure and better future.”