Afghanistan/Australia — Paper presented by the Minister for Defence on casualties, procedural issues etc.

Paper pre­sent­ed by the Min­is­ter for Defence, Stephen Smith, MP on Afghanistan Tabled in con­junc­tion with a Min­is­te­r­i­al State­ment on 23 March 2011
As I said dur­ing last year’s Par­lia­men­tary debate on Afghanistan, “there can be no more seri­ous endeav­our for any coun­try or Gov­ern­ment than to send its mil­i­tary forces into con­flict”.
That is why it is appro­pri­ate that Australia’s com­mit­ment to Afghanistan is the sub­ject of ongo­ing Par­lia­men­tary and pub­lic scruti­ny.
As part of this, the Gov­ern­ment and I are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing reg­u­lar reports and updates on Afghanistan, includ­ing to the Par­lia­ment.
My report on this occa­sion includes the recent NATO and Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force (ISAF) Defence Min­is­ters’ meet­ing in Brus­sels, which I attend­ed ear­li­er this month.

Why we are there

It is worth remind­ing our­selves why we are in Afghanistan and what our goal is.

The Government’s strong view is that it is in our nation­al inter­est to be in Afghanistan, not just with our Alliance part­ner the Unit­ed States, but also with 46 oth­er mem­bers of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty act­ing under a Unit­ed Nations man­date.

Aus­tralia has a respon­si­bil­i­ty to help stare down inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ism and ensure sta­bil­i­ty in Afghanistan.

Our fun­da­men­tal goal is to pre­vent Afghanistan from again being used by ter­ror­ists to plan and train for attacks on inno­cent civil­ians, includ­ing Aus­tralians in our own region and beyond.

To achieve that goal we must help pre­pare the Afghan Gov­ern­ment to take lead respon­si­bil­i­ty for pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty for the Afghan peo­ple.

We must sta­bilise the secu­ri­ty sit­u­a­tion and men­tor and train the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces.

Progress

There are signs that the inter­na­tion­al community’s recent troop surge, com­bined now with a strong mil­i­tary and polit­i­cal strat­e­gy, has reversed the Taliban’s momen­tum.

This progress is incre­men­tal and hard-won, but it is appar­ent.

As Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force Com­man­der Gen­er­al Petraeus told the US Con­gress on 15 March, dis­tricts west of Kan­da­har city – the birth­place of the Tal­iban – have recent­ly been cleared by ISAF and Afghan troops.

In recent months, there has been a four­fold increase in the num­ber of weapons and explo­sive caches turned in and found.

Around 700 for­mer Tal­iban have now offi­cial­ly rein­te­grat­ed with Afghan author­i­ties, with some 2,000 more in var­i­ous stages of the rein­te­gra­tion process.

But I do urge cau­tion.

Unit­ed States Defense Intel­li­gence Agency head, Gen­er­al Ron Burgess, has cau­tioned that “the secu­ri­ty sit­u­a­tion remains frag­ile and heav­i­ly depen­dent on ISAF sup­port” and that the Tal­iban “remain[s] resilient and will be able to threat­en US and inter­na­tion­al goals in Afghanistan through 2011”.

We must expect push back from the Tal­iban, par­tic­u­lar­ly in areas recent­ly claimed by ISAF and Afghan troops, when this year’s fight­ing sea­son com­mences in April or May.

We do need to steel our­selves for a tough fight­ing sea­son.

Unit­ed States Sec­re­tary of Defense Gates was cor­rect when he said in Afghanistan on 8 March that the com­ing spring and sum­mer fight­ing sea­sons would present an ‘acid test’ of whether our gains could hold.

As well, the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty must con­tin­ue to press Pres­i­dent Karzai and his Gov­ern­ment to deliv­er on his under­tak­ings at the Lon­don Con­fer­ence in Jan­u­ary 2010 to improve gov­er­nance, pur­sue elec­toral reform, take effec­tive anti-cor­rup­tion and anti-nar­cotics mea­sures and cre­ate social and eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties for all the Afghan peo­ple, includ­ing Afghan women and girls.

As Unit­ed States Nation­al Intel­li­gence Direc­tor Jim Clap­per advised the Unit­ed States Con­gress recent­ly, which he repeat­ed to me when I met him in Aus­tralia recent­ly, there remains con­cern about the abil­i­ty of the Afghan Gov­ern­ment to deliv­er on gov­er­nance.

With­out progress on gov­er­nance, secu­ri­ty gains will remain frag­ile.

Inter­na­tion­al com­mit­ment

Lead­ers of the 48 ISAF coun­tries met at the Lis­bon Sum­mit last Novem­ber and resolved that a con­di­tions-based tran­si­tion to Afghan led secu­ri­ty begin in 2011, with the aspi­ra­tion of com­plet­ing tran­si­tion by the end of 2014.

NATO and ISAF mem­bers also made an impor­tant long term com­mit­ment to sup­port Afghanistan beyond the tran­si­tion of secu­ri­ty respon­si­bil­i­ty.

Good progress has been made since the Lis­bon Sum­mit, with the first Joint Afghan-NATO Inte­qal Board report on tran­si­tion and the devel­op­ment of ISAF Tran­si­tion Imple­men­ta­tion Prin­ci­ples.

Aus­tralia endors­es the first Inte­qal report and its rec­om­men­da­tion to begin tran­si­tion, as the Brus­sels NATO-ISAF Defence Min­is­ters also did, and as announced by Pres­i­dent Karzai on 22 March, which I will refer to short­ly.

The Inte­qal report’s com­mit­ment to coor­di­nate tran­si­tion plan­ning with both Afghan and ISAF stake­hold­ers will ensure all part­ners are con­sult­ed through­out the tran­si­tion process, includ­ing on future tranch­es for tran­si­tion.

It is essen­tial to get this right, to ensure the sus­tain­abil­i­ty of the tran­si­tion process.

As the Prime Min­is­ter said at the Lis­bon Sum­mit, there is no point tran­si­tion­ing out only to have to tran­si­tion back in lat­er.

The ISAF Tran­si­tion Imple­men­ta­tion Prin­ci­ples empha­sise a shared, long-term com­mit­ment, a prop­er­ly resourced mis­sion, and invest­ment and rein­vest­ment in train­ing.

I attend­ed the recent NATO-ISAF Defence Min­is­ters’ meet­ing in Brus­sels.

Build­ing upon the Lis­bon Sum­mit, this meet­ing deliv­ered the mes­sage that ISAF part­ners are com­mit­ted to achiev­ing a con­di­tions based, irre­versible and sus­tain­able tran­si­tion of secu­ri­ty respon­si­bil­i­ty to Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces.

Work­ing hand in hand with the Afghan Gov­ern­ment, ISAF intends to com­plete the hand­ing over of secu­ri­ty respon­si­bil­i­ty to Afghan author­i­ties by the end of 2014.

This is an achiev­able task, and it has already start­ed.

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →