NATO: Afghan Lead One Step Closer

BELGIUM–(ENEWSPF)–11 March 2011.  Defence Ministers of the 48 ISAF troop contributing nations met in Brussels today. Ministers took a crucial step towards the implementation of Transition – the process by which security responsibility for Afghanistan is gradually transferred to Afghan leadership.

The recommendation will now be conveyed to the Afghan government to decide on the areas that will initiate transition. Transition will commence only once it has been approved by the Afghan government and announced by President Karzai.

They endorsed the recommendations of the Joint Afghan NATO Inteqal (Transition) Board for the first areas to be transitioned to Afghan lead. In doing so, NATO has taken its own decision to move to Phase 4, or the Transition Phase of the operation, in those recommended areas.

“This will indeed mark the start of a new era of stability, security and responsibility for Afghanistan”, NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, affirmed in a press conference.

He also stressed that “today we have opened a new chapter in our joint endeavour. Afghan and international security forces continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder. Despite the ongoing challenges, we can take real pride in what we are achieving together.”

The Ministers also discussed and agreed the principles by which Transition will be implemented. They emphasised the fact that transition is not an event but a process and that transition signifies a gradual shift to a genuine supporting role as ANSF capabilities develop.

“Transition does not mean a rush for the exit. On the contrary – our forces will stay to support, to mentor the Afghans, and to train more new recruits,” said the Secretary General.

The Ministers, who were joined by Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, welcomed the progress in building up the strength and capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) which are increasingly taking the lead in joint operations. Ministers expressed their shared goal to see the ANSF conduct security operations take the lead and conduct security operations in all provinces by the end of 2014.

“We are fulfilling the commitment we made last year in Lisbon, and building on the progress we continue to see on the ground. Our strategy is working. And it is being achieved in ever-closer partnership with the Afghans”, confirmed Rasmussen.