NATO and Belarus 2013

Fri, 15/08/2014 - 13:07

An international seminar to discuss international security and NATO in new conditions held in Minsk on 5 December. It was arranged by the Foreign Policy and Security Research Center with assistance of the Public Diplomacy Division of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Dr. Petr LUNAK, Deputy Head, Engagement Section, NATO PDD, Brussels

In my presentation I would like to focus on three priorities that will shape NATO´s agenda in the run up to the 2014 Summit.  These priority topics are Afghanistan, military capabilities as well as partnerships. 


NATO’s primary objective in Afghanistan is to enable the Afghan authorities to provide effective security across the country and ensure that the country can never again be a safe haven for terrorists. Since August 2003, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has been conducting security operations, while also training and developing the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Launched in 2011, the transition to full Afghan security responsibility is due to be completed at the end of 2014, when ISAF’s mission will end. NATO will then lead a follow-on mission to train, advise and assist the ANSF with the aim to continue supporting the development and sustainment of the Afghan security forces and institutions.

ISAF´s mission

Deployed in 2001 – initially under the lead of individual NATO Allies on a six-month rotational basis – the UN-mandated ISAF was tasked to assist the Afghan government in maintaining security, originally in and around Kabul exclusively. NATO agreed to take command of the force in August 2003 and the UN Security Council subsequently mandated the gradual expansion of ISAF’s operations to cover the whole country by October 2006. ISAF is in Afghanistan at the express wish of the democratically elected government of Afghanistan.

As part of the international community’s overall effort, ISAF is working to create the conditions whereby the Afghan government is able to exercise its authority throughout the country, including the development of professional and capable Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), through mentoring, training and equipping. To achieve this goal ISAF conducts joint operations with the ANSF to reduce the capability of the insurgency, support the growth in capacity and capability of the ANSF, and create a secure environment for improving governance and socio-economic development and creating sustainable stability across Afghanistan.

By the end of 2014, Afghan National Security Forces are expected to assume full security responsibility for their people and country, and ISAF’s mission will end. The process of transition to full Afghan security responsibility – known as “Inteqal” in Dari and Pashtu – was launched in 2011 and is well underway. Already Afghan security forces are leading security operations in areas where 87 per cent of the Afghan population lives, following the inclusion of a fourth set of areas in the transition process in December 2012. The launch of the fifth and final tranche of the transition process, announced on 18 June, will mean that Afghan forces will soon be in the lead for security across the whole country.

Increasing ANSF capacity and leadership allows the ISAF mission to evolve, shifting progressively from a combat-centric role to a more enabling role focusing on training, advising and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces to ensure that they are able to assume their full security responsibilities by the end of transition. With the final tranche of the transition process, ISAF will complete its shift from a combat to a support role. ISAF will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces as they continue to take on their security responsibilities. It will continue to provide combat support, as necessary, while pursuing a measured redeployment in a coordinated and coherent manner, until the scheduled completion of transition at the end of 2014.

NATO’s commitment to Afghanistan stands firm and will remain beyond the completion of the transition process. At NATO’s Summit in Chicago in May 2012, Allies agreed to a follow-on NATO-led mission to continue supporting the development of the Afghan security forces post-2014. The detailed concept for the new NATO-led mission (known as “Resolute Support”) to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces after 2014 was endorsed in June 2013, at a meeting attended by NATO Defence Ministers and their counterparts from ISAF troop-contributing nations and Afghanistan. The NATO-led post-2014 mission will not be a combat mission. It will be a mission to provide training, advice and assistance, focused on national and institutional-level training, and the higher levels of army and police command across the country. The ten partner nations which have expressed an interest to participate in the training mission associated themselves with that decision.

At the Chicago Summit, Allied leaders and their partners committed to play their part in the financial sustainment of the ANSF after 2014. . The responsibility to contribute to the financing of this effort is one for the international community as a whole. NATO will participate in that process, by developing appropriate, coherent and effective funding mechanisms and expenditure arrangements for all strands of the ANSF.

The issue was also high on the agenda of the July 2012 Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan, which aimed to pave the way for the sustainable development of Afghanistan, taking into account the situation after 2014. The Tokyo Conference also noted the areas in which the Afghan government must continue to make progress. At the conference, the Afghan government made clear commitments: to hold inclusive, transparent and credible elections; to fight corruption and improve good governance; to uphold the constitution, especially human rights; and to enforce the rule of law.

Wider cooperation between NATO and Afghanistan will also continue beyond 2014 within the framework of the NATO-Afghanistan Enduring Partnership signed at NATO’s Lisbon Summit in 2010 (see below).

Building the Afghan Security Forces

Developing professional, capable and self-sustaining Afghan National Security Forces is at the centre of ISAF’s efforts and the core mission of the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan (NTM-A). This enables implementation of the transition process until end 2014 and will also guide NATO’s commitment to Afghanistan over the long term.

Since its creation in 2002, the Afghan National Army (ANA) has been moving from an infantry-centric force to a fully-fledged army to comprise both fighting elements and enabling capabilities - such as military police, intelligence, route clearance, combat support, medical, aviation, and logistics. To date, the ANA includes 183 000 personnel including nearly 10 500 special forces. Over 400 women are enrolled in the ANA.

The role of the Afghan National Police (ANP) is shifting from countering the insurgency to a more civilian policing role, by further developing capabilities ranging from criminal investigations to traffic control. Currently, the ANP consists of approximately 153 000 personnel, including over 1500 women.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Air Force now has approximately 6700 personnel, including aircrew and maintenance and support personnel, and has a fleet of 92 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. To date, over 30 women are serving in the Afghan Air Force.

The ANSF participate and lead 92 per cent of all security operations, from routine tasks to high-level operations, including special operations. Roughly 90 per cent of the training is carried out by Afghan personnel and is conducted in both Dari and Pashtu, Afghanistan’s two official languages.

The total strength target for the ANSF is 352,000 personnel, as agreed by the Security Standing Committee of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board in June 2011. This target has been reached.

Attrition does however remain a problem. Reducing attrition is essential for the long-term viability of the ANSF, especially with respect to retaining quality personnel. Steps have been undertaken by the Afghan security leadership to address this issue, including measures to prevent Absence Without Leave (AWOL) and the establishment of the Special ANSF Leave Travel Program (SALT-P) aimed at facilitating soldiers’ leave through the use of contracted commercial and military aircraft

The sustainment of the ANSF post-2014 remains the responsibility of the Afghan Government and the international community as a whole. At the International Afghanistan Conference in Bonn on 5 December 2011, the wider international community decided to support the training, equipping, financing and capability development of the ANSF beyond the end of the transition period. At the NATO Chicago Summit in May 2012, NATO Allies and ISAF partners reaffirmed their strong commitment to this process and will play their part in the financial sustainment of the ANSF.

Since 2009, NATO’s ANA Trust Fund has been the main conduit for the international community to support the long-term sustainment of the ANA, while the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA) remains the primary vehicle for supporting the sustainment of the ANP. The discussion is underway on funding mechanisms that would be most suitable for supporting the ANSF sustainment post-2014.


NATO has been engaged in continuous transformation for many years to ensure that it has the policies, capabilities and structures required to deal with current and future challenges, including the collective defence of its members. With Allied forces militarily engaged across several continents, the Alliance needs to ensure that its armed forces remain modern, deployable and sustainable.

Acquiring modern capabilities is not easy when many Allies and partners are facing declining defence budgets. Therefore a new spirit of solidarity and cooperation is is necessary within NATO. That means developing acquiring and maintaining military equipment together in multilateral projects . And that means prioritizing, specializing and helping each other. This is what we call Smart Defence in NATO.

And we are also strengthening the connection between our forces through more joint exercises, education and training. This is what we call Connected Forces Initiative.

At the May 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago, Alliance leaders reaffirmed their determination to ensure that NATO retains and develops the capabilities necessary to perform its essential core tasks: collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security – and thereby to play an essential role promoting security in the world. This responsibility needs to be met while dealing with an acute financial crisis and responding to evolving geo-strategic challenges.

By working together through NATO, Alliance members are better able to ensure the security of their citizens – and to do so far more effectively and efficiently – than would be possible by acting alone. Over the past six decades, they have cooperated closely together, have made firm commitments and taken a range of initiatives to strengthen capabilities in key areas.



Security today can only be cooperative security. Dialogue and cooperation with partners play an integral part in helping our understanding or world events – and in strengthening international stability and security. And we need to continue deepening our relationships and widening our networks.   

NATO´s unique expertise and experience means that the Alliance is particularly well suited to helping countries manage difficult political transitions. Modernize their security sectors. Train their forces to deal with internal challenges. And assist them in operating together with their neighbors´ forces to manage crises together. In other words, projecting stability without the need to project forces. 

NATO’s Strategic Concept identifies “cooperative security” as one of NATO’s three essential core tasks. It states that the promotion of Euro-Atlantic security is best assured through a wide network of partner relationships with countries and organizations around the globe. These partnerships make a concrete and valued contribution to the success of NATO’s fundamental tasks.

Over the past two decades, the Alliance has developed a network of structured partnerships with countries from the Euro-Atlantic area, the Mediterranean and the Gulf region, as well as individual relationships with other partners across the globe.

Today, NATO engages with 41 countries as partners. Many of these partners as well as other non-member countries offer substantial capabilities and political support for Alliance missions. For example, as of June 2013, 49 nations are contributing troops to the mission. They include 21 non-NATO partners, working alongside the 28 NATO Allies.

NATO also engages actively with other international actors and organisations on defence and security-related issues, and is seeking to deepen this cooperation. The complexity of today’s peace-support and stabilization operations and the multifaceted nature of 21st century security challenges call for a comprehensive approach that effectively combines political, civilian and military instruments.

Making progress in all three areas – future of Afghanistan, military capabilities and partnerships – will help NATO to remain relevant in handling the future challenges in today´s globalised world.  

RSS-feed YouTube-channel