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NATO Decides

  • November 21st, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

nato-lisbon-badge1.jpgThe NATO alliance has set up a timetable for a staged hand-over in Afghanistan to local forces.


nato-rasmussen1.jpgThe NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, announced at the end of the summit of alliance heads of government in Lisbon (20.11.10) that the transition would take four years:

“The aim is for Afghan forces to be in the lead country-wide by the end of 2014”.

afghanistan-kabul-landscape3-nato.jpgThe arrangement, which would see international forces continuing after that date, with emphasis on supporting civil reconstruction work, had been agreed with the government of Afghanistan -  President Hamid Kazai attending the conference.

afghanistan-isaf-troops2nato.jpgSteps, from next year, would be gradual; different member countries had committed to increase their commitment to training of Afghan forces, and the decision did not mean it would be possible now for Taliban insurgents to work on a strategy of just waiting for the allied troops to go.


gillard1.jpgThe Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who had gone to the summit declaring Australia’s involvement would continue for a decade if needed, said disengagement should be cautious.

“We should not transition-out only to find we have to transition-in later”, she said.

There was no timetable as yet for Australian troops operating in  Ourzgan province to begin handing over, though they were expected to complete the task of mentoring and training an Afghan National Army brigade, in “two to four years”.

Australia has forces numbering more than 1400 in Afghanistan, and along with other non-NATO countries has been attending summit meetings, for consultations on the intervention there, since April 2008.

The Afghanistan campaign is being conducted by a consortium of governments operating under a NATO command structure called ISAF – the International Security Assistance Force.

An alliance briefing note states that NATO took command of ISAF in 2003; the alliance has gradually expanded the reach of its mission, originally limited to Kabul, to cover all of Afghanistan’s territory, and the number of ISAF troops has grown from the initial 5000 to around 130 400 troops from 48 countries, including all 28 NATO member nations.


The North Atlantic alliance has been extending its field of operations generally since the end of the Cold War stand-off in Europe against the Soviet Union.

That was demonstrated this time by the participation of the “outsiders” such as Ms Gillard and President Kazai, and the Russian President, Dimitry Medvedev, was also in Lisbon, where he confirmed a renewed cooperation plan with NATO.

That plan was expected to include a widening of transport opportunities for the allies going to Afghanistan.

After a two-year break in relations over Russia’s objections to new anti-missile defences in Eastern Europe, among other issues, he’d agreed to cooperation on a revised scheme for the installations to be put in place,

The American President, Barack Obama, came out of the meeting saying, “we see Russia as a partner not an adversary”.

Mr Obama said that as well as going ahead with the defensive network against ballistic missile attack, the NATO summit had decided to proceed with other developments, including closer cooperation with the European Union, preparation for cyber warfare and a reorganisation of forces cooperation in the field.

See EUAustralia Online NATO archive, including: “NATO at Lisbon”, 19.11.10; “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.


David Brunnstrom and Timothy Heritage, “NATO backs security handover plan for Afghanistan”. Reuters, 20.11.10., (20.11.10).

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Brussels, International Security Assistance Force (home)., (20.11.10).Pictures

Anders Fogh Rasmussen; Afghanistan landscape, ISAF troops; Julia Gillard;…, nato