NATO boosts efforts in Afghanistan
Meeting in Riga at the highest political level, NATO Heads of State and Government strengthened their commitment to NATO’s Afghanistan mission, but also called for broader international engagement.
Leaders of the 26 countries agreed to remove some caveats – national restrictions on how, when and where forces can be used – to further strengthen the effectiveness of the NATO-led forces in the country.
“About 26,000 of the total 32,000 NATO ISAF forces are now more useable than they were for combat and non-combat missions,” NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told reporters.
They also confirmed that, regardless of the remaining caveats, in an emergency situation every Ally will come to the aid of the forces that require assistance.
A number of countries also pledged additional assets, including fighters, helicopters, infantry companies as well as training teams that will mentor the Afghan National Army.
The Secretary General said this meant 90% of the formal mission requirements were now filled.
Afghanistan, as well as NATO’s other operations, was the focus of a working dinner on the first day of the Summit meeting in the capital of Latvia, 28 November.
NATO’s is currently leading some 32,000 troops from 37 countries in Afghanistan.
Military not enough
Recognizing the importance of reconstruction and development to Afghanistan’s long-term stability, Heads of State and Government called for broader international assistance for Afghanistan.
“It is winnable, it is being won, but not yet won,” Mr. De Hoop Scheffer said.
Heads of State and General welcomed proposals for a ‘Contact Group’ that would bring key stakeholders together to discuss and agree on important strategic issues.
The Secretary General was tasked to develop this proposal further.
Taking transformation forward
The Summit meeting also resulted in important decisions on deepening NATO’s political engagement in Europe and beyond, and further modernizing the Alliance’s capability to project stability wherever necessary.