Time to Consolidate Afghanistan Gains, NATO Chief Says

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2010 — The U.S. annu­al review on Afghanistan and Pak­istan released today demon­strates that the strat­e­gy dri­ving the mis­sion is sound, and with the resources in place to accom­plish it, is mak­ing progress, NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Anders Fogh Ras­mussen said today.
“Now we have to con­sol­i­date those gains and make them irre­versible,” he said in a state­ment.

Acknowl­edg­ing that the task is “chal­leng­ing,” Ras­mussen said NATO and its coali­tion part­ners are “deter­mined to see it through.” 

“In the years to come, we will keep up efforts to sup­port the Afghan gov­ern­ment as it extends its author­i­ty through­out the coun­try,” he said. “We will con­tin­ue to train Afghan forces so they can pro­vide secu­ri­ty for the Afghan people.” 

Agree­ments made last month at NATO’s sum­mit in Lis­bon, Por­tu­gal, pro­vide the roadmap for this effort, he said. 

The NATO-led Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force is work­ing to cre­ate con­di­tions that will enable Afghan secu­ri­ty forces to take the secu­ri­ty lead across the coun­try by the end of 2014. At that point, ISAF forces will move into a sup­port­ing role. 

But the tran­si­tion won’t sig­nal an end to NATO’s com­mit­ment to Afghanistan or the region, Ras­mussen emphasized. 

“As the long-term part­ner­ship that [Afghan] Pres­i­dent [Hamid] Karzai and I signed at Lis­bon demon­strates, our com­mit­ment to Afghanistan will con­tin­ue well beyond 2014,” he said. “NATO will also remain engaged with Pak­istan, which is play­ing a crit­i­cal role in bring­ing sta­bil­i­ty to the region.” 

As NATO oper­ates in Afghanistan under a U.N. man­date and at the invi­ta­tion of the Afghan gov­ern­ment, Ras­mussen said, its mem­bers rec­og­nize the far-reach­ing impact of what hap­pens in Afghanistan. “We are there because our own secu­ri­ty depends upon it,” he said. 

“That recog­ni­tion con­tin­ues to dri­ve the alliance as it assess­es accom­plish­ments made and work still ahead, he said. “As we look back on 2010, we see that we have made hard-fought progress. In 2011, all NATO allies and their part­ners in ISAF will con­tin­ue to work togeth­er to make Afghanistan -– and our own nations — safer.” 

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

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