NATO, U.N. Pledge to Back Afghan Security Lead by 2014

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2010 — Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of those who are fight­ing togeth­er in Afghanistan to restore that nation’s secu­ri­ty and gov­er­nance for­mal­ized their part­ner­ship today as the NATO Sum­mit closed in Lis­bon, Por­tu­gal, sign­ing dec­la­ra­tions that affirm their long-term com­mit­ment.

fghan President Hamid Karzai, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon conduct a joint press briefing Nov. 20, 2010, in Lisbon
Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai, NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Anders Fogh Ras­mussen and U.N. Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Ban Ki-moon con­duct a joint press brief­ing Nov. 20, 2010, in Lis­bon.
NATO pho­to
Click to enlarge

NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Anders Fogh Ras­mussen and Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai signed a dec­la­ra­tion of “endur­ing part­ner­ship” that Ras­mussen said would “endure beyond our com­bat mis­sion.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the heads of state and gov­ern­ment of 48 nations that con­tribute to the U.N.-mandated Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force in Afghanistan also issued a dec­la­ra­tion affirm­ing their resolve to lay foun­da­tions there for long-term secu­ri­ty.

“To put it sim­ply,” Ras­mussen said dur­ing a press brief­ing, “if the Tal­iban or any­one else aims to wait us out, they can for­get it. We will stay as long as it takes to fin­ish our job.”

NATO’s main role in Afghanistan, imple­ment­ed main­ly through ISAF, is to help the nation’s gov­ern­ment exer­cise and extend its author­i­ty and influ­ence across the coun­try, paving the way for recon­struc­tion and effec­tive gov­er­nance.

Since NATO took com­mand of ISAF in 2003, the alliance grad­u­al­ly has expand­ed its mis­sion reach from Kab­ul alone to all of Afghanistan’s ter­ri­to­ry. ISAF has grown from an ini­tial 5,000 troops to 130,400 troops from 48 coun­tries, includ­ing all 28 NATO mem­ber nations.

Despite Afghanistan’s dif­fi­cul­ties, Ras­mussen said, today al-Qai­da has no safe haven any­where in the coun­try, and the Tal­iban are under pres­sure every­where.

“The Afghan peo­ple are steadi­ly get­ting freer, health­i­er, bet­ter edu­cat­ed and bet­ter gov­erned. That is what will make Afghanistan resis­tant to ter­ror­ism tomor­row,” Ras­mussen said, “along with the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces we are train­ing to take over secu­ri­ty from us.”

Ras­mussen said the process launched in Lis­bon would help the Afghan peo­ple “once again become mas­ters of their own house.” The aim is for Afghan forces to be in the lead coun­try­wide by the end of 2014, he said, and train­ing is key to such a tran­si­tion, he said.

“To achieve that goal, we must train and edu­cate Afghan sol­diers and Afghan police,” he said. “In that respect it is encour­ag­ing that we have heard announce­ments that sev­er­al allies and part­ners will pro­vide more train­ers. It is indeed a strong com­mit­ment to our mis­sion.”

Ras­mussen added that he’s con­fi­dent that the 2014 dead­line can be met because of the rapid growth in the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces’ capac­i­ty and qual­i­ty.

“We start­ed our train­ing mis­sion last year,” he said, “and already we have more than 260,000 Afghan sol­diers and police. The num­ber is grow­ing, and by the end of next year we have set the goal to have 300,000 Afghan sol­diers and police.”

Eighty-five per­cent of Afghan sol­diers are part­ner­ing with inter­na­tion­al troops in major mil­i­tary oper­a­tions, he added.

“More than half the par­tic­i­pat­ing troops are Afghans,” Ras­mussen said, “and they do a great job.”

The inter­na­tion­al community’s strong com­mit­ment “will be matched by deter­mi­na­tion and hard work by the peo­ple of Afghanistan,” Karzai said, “and the two com­bined will give us the results of an effec­tive, irre­versible and sus­tain­able tran­si­tion.”

U.N. Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Ban Ki-moon joined Ras­mussen and Karzai at the brief­ing, not­ing that the Unit­ed Nations, Afghanistan and NATO share the same goals — sta­bil­i­ty, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, good gov­er­nance, respect for human rights, and a har­mo­nious rela­tion­ship among Afghanistan and its neigh­bors.

“As we move ahead we must be guid­ed by real­i­ties, not sched­ules,” Ban said.

“Let us remem­ber that Afghanistan has been at war for sev­er­al decades. The Unit­ed Nations have been work­ing in Afghanistan through­out this peri­od, help­ing our friends at every dif­fi­cult moment of their country’s his­to­ry,” he con­tin­ued. “There are no short­cuts to peace.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter