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NATO At Lisbon

  • November 20th, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

nato-lux-defence-mins.jpgLeaders of the NATO alliance have assembled at Lisbon to tick off a much-anticipated agenda, including plans for the eventual hand-over in Afghanistan to the country’s own armed forces.

nato-lisbon-badge.jpgThe Afghanistan war has underscored a new doctrine of projecting the power of the alliance beyond its traditional  North Atlantic theatre, following the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

That has seen a build-up in recent years with over 130000 troops, mainly from the NATO member countries, committed to operations against Taliban insurgents.

It has also revealed limits to solidarity, with weak public support in Europe for the far-away conflict, and decisions by major participants, e.g. Germany and the Netherlands, to set strict time limits on their involvement.

Today and tomorrow in Lisbon (19-20.11.10) President Barak Obama, is expected to persist with the American case for troop numbers to be kept up, while the gathering also will agree to set a date in 2014 to begin the transfer of control over security to the Kabul government.

julia-gillard.jpgAustralia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has signalled that her government will agree to the 2014 date but will also indicate readiness to stay on in the country, even for another decade.

The Australian government, and other allies outside of NATO, have attended gatherings, to take part in consultations on Afghanistan, since a summit at Bucharest in April 2008.

The then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, after being elected late in the previous year, had demanded a place at the table for Australia where previously there had been no representation.

He backed an initiative to expand training for the Afghan armed forces, and plans to extend and improve coordination of military and civil aid.

Ms Gillard went to NATO headquarters at Brussels last month, and now has travelled to Lisbon in the aftermath of the first extended debate on Afghanistan in the Australian Parliament, which produced broad agreement between the major political parties on continuing there, with at least present force numbers, over1400 strong.

The declared objective of the country’s commitment is to oppose a return to power by Taliban forces, which had provided a territorial base for international terrorism.

Australian forces are engaged in offensives against the Taliban, provide protection  for civil reconstruction projects, and are mentoring an Afghan army brigade.

Forty-eight countries have been taking part in  the allied campaign  under a command structure set up by NATO – the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

NATO has 28 member states, including former Soviet allies, or Soviet republics, and this week is revising its purposes and roles.

nato-rasmussen.jpgThe NATO Secretary General,  Anders Fogh Rasmussen, affirmed at Lisbon (19,.11.10) the gathering would strike agreements on dealing with new problems on its agenda: terrorism, cyber warfare, and ballistic missiles – the possibility of an  attack on member countries by hostile states.

The summit was scheduled to approve a sea-based anti-missile operation  in the Mediterranean, extending the planned land-based system, in Poland and Czechoslovakia, which brought protests from Russia.

See EUAustralia Online NATO archive, including: “PM confirms for NATO at Lisbon”, 7.11.10; “November summitry”, 29.10.10; “Australians to tell NATO: staying  on in Afghanistan”; “Australian Prime Minister at NATO”, 5.10.10.


Defence Ministers at Lisbon preliminary meet; Julia Gillard; Anders Fogh Rasmussen …, nato