NATO Parliamentary Assembly
HomeDOCUMENTSCommittee Reports2008 Annual Session158 DSC 08 E bis - NATO Operations: Current Priorities and Lessons Learned

158 DSC 08 E bis - NATO Operations: Current Priorities and Lessons Learned

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General Rapporteur: Frank COOK (United Kingdom)












1.  With approximately 65,600 troops1 deployed in five different military operations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is conducting complex engagements in five separate theaters in extremely diverse conditions, across the full spectrum of asymmetric warfare.  The nature of the Alliance as an expeditionary security provider and the extent to which it has transformed from its Cold War stance of exclusively territorial defence has never been clearer.

2.  In Afghanistan and Kosovo, NATO is in the lead of two multinational forces – ISAF and KFOR – responding to a UN mandate. The Alliance assisted the African Union (AU) mission to Darfur with logistics and training and has declared its readiness to support an AU mission to Somalia; it is also providing equipment coordination, training and technical assistance to the Iraqi Security Forces. NATO continues its maritime surveillance operation in the Mediterranean initiated under Article 5 immediately following the 9/11 attack.  In addition, the Alliance is helping to bring stability to the Balkans by assisting the governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia2 in reforming their armed forces.  NATO is joined in its operations by 17 Non-NATO contributing nations. 3

3.  Your Rapporteur seeks in this report to offer members of the Assembly a broad update on NATO’s current military operations, to summarize points for further discussion regarding each individual operation, and finally provide some overarching conclusions applicable to the Alliance’s role in possible future operations.  The Committee’s 2008 activities have included fact-finding visits to several operations in progress, including visits to KFOR in April and Operation Active Endeavour in May.  In addition, the Committee has held meetings at NATO’s Joint Force Command-Brunssum, which has responsibility for operations in Afghanistan and the NATO Response Force, and Joint Force Command-Naples, which has responsibility for KFOR, the NATO Training Mission in Iraq and Operation Active Endeavour.  Information gathered during these visits contributed to this version of the report. 


4.  The analysis presented by your Rapporteur in last year’s General Report to this Committee, as supplemented by the information presented in the report of our September 2007 visit to Afghanistan, remains in general terms valid.4

5.  NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is the first Alliance operation conducted ‘out of area.’  In December 2001, acting under Chapter VII, the UN Security Council authorised ISAF to assist the Afghan Interim Authority in the maintenance of security in Kabul and its surrounding areas. ISAF was tasked with performing two functions: protecting civilians and providing public security.  Initially, ISAF deployed in Kabul only and individual nations committed to it under the UN mandate, but on 11 August 2003 NATO assumed full authority for the ISAF mission. Subsequently in October of the same year, the Security Council, responding to a request from the Afghan government, updated ISAF's mandate to extend beyond Kabul.

6.  Over the course of 2006, ISAF expanded into all remaining Afghan provinces and, by October of the same year, took responsibility for assisting with security and reconstruction in the entire country. As a result of this expansion, ISAF's troop levels increased from 9,000 to approximately 31,000 (as of October 2006), with the bulk of the additional forces coming from Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom together with US troops that were previously under a part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

7.  ISAF’s key military tasks include assisting the Afghan government in extending its authority across the country, conducting stability and security operations in co-ordination with the Afghan national security forces; mentoring and supporting the Afghan National Army (ANA); and supporting Afghan government programmes to disarm illegally armed groups.

8.  To carry out its stabilisation and reconstruction function, ISAF has established Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) throughout the country. PRTs are innovative tools because they combine the traditional patrolling, monitoring and stabilisation efforts of the military with the provision of security for on-going reconstruction efforts by the international community. In areas where the security situation does not allow for international organisations to operate freely, the PRTs themselves undertake some of the basic reconstruction efforts.  They were initially established by the US-led coalition in December 2002 and subsequently adopted by ISAF in 2004. 

9.  As of September 2008, ISAF had 50,700 troops from 40 different countries operating on the ground and functioning in 26 PRTs.

10.    At NATO’s Bucharest Summit this April, ISAF troop-contributing nations agreed on a Comprehensive Political-Military Strategic Plan for Afghanistan and a public declaration outlining ISAF’s Strategic Vision. This declaration sets out a clear vision guided by four principles: a firm and shared long-term commitment; support for enhanced Afghan leadership and responsibility; a comprehensive approach by the international community, bringing together civilian and military efforts; and increased cooperation and engagement with Afghanistan’s neighbours, especially Pakistan.  

11.  The documents together comprise not only a clear statement of the goals of the Alliance but also 64 tasks to be carried out and benchmarks to be met over the next three to five years against which to measure progress.  While this element has unfortunately not been made public, the documents, which had been called for by the Assembly’s 2007 Resolution on Afghanistan, represent in themselves a positive step forward by reaffirming the importance of the mission for NATO and clearly tying European security to that of Afghanistan, as stated in the Strategic Vision: “We recognised after the tragic events of 11 September 2001, that Euro-Atlantic and broader international security is tied to Afghanistan’s stability and future.”


12.  The progress made by the Allied effort to bring security and stability to Afghanistan is not subject to a simple, clear measurement and like beauty, must remain in the eye of the beholder.  US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a typically mixed assessment in early 2008: “I believe that the Afghan project is making progress. The situation is better than some reports. It is not as good as it needs to be.”5 

13.  The positive developments on the ground are significant, though rarely the focus of media reporting.  Since 2001, reconstruction and development efforts by the international community have produced impressive results all over the country and have made a difference in the daily lives of Afghans.  To cite only some of the relevant statistics: over 4,000 km of roads completed; 1 billion square metres of minecontaminated land cleared; over 60,000 ex-combatants disarmed and reintegrated; 83% of the population has now access to medical facilities, compared to 9 % in 2004; over 7 million girls and boys are in school or higher education; a quarter of parliamentarians are women; the economy is growing.6 

14.  On the military side, officials hailed NATO’s operation to re-take the city of Musa Qala as a major success, one led by Afghan forces.  General Dan McNeill, former Commander of ISAF, indicated in early 2008 that he had had 7,000 to 8,000 additional troops at his disposal relative to the previous year, and that this had allowed ISAF to take the initiative away from the Taliban’s predicted “spring offensive” in 2007. 

15.  Another major military success with important implications for development efforts was the massive operation in September to deliver a turbine to the Kajaki dam in Helmand province.  Once operational, the turbine will deliver electricity to an additional 1.9 million people throughout southern Afghanistan.  The mission, which included 4,000 Afghan and ISAF troops, delivered the massive equipment over 180 km of road and desert tracks despite significant armed opposition by insurgents.

16.  Overall, NATO is engaged throughout the country, actively seeking out Taliban-controlled areas in major operations alongside or led by Afghan National Security Forces.  Reports indicate that ANA in particular has performed well and is gaining experience and leadership necessary to operate increasingly independently.

17.  Yet despite the progress cited above and witnessed by the Committee during its September 2007 visit, it is also true that the overall effort to secure and stabilize the country is in a state of dangerously precarious stalemate.  Experts appear to agree that while defeat is not imminent, victory is far from assured.


18.  Early in 2008, ISAF’s former Commander General Dan McNeill stated that he didn’t believe the insurgency was growing, and that it “didn't achieve any aims in 2007, other than to stay in the newspapers.”7   According to NATO officials, from October 2006 until the end of 2007, 70% of the security incidents occurred in only 10% of districts Afghanistanwide. Those 10% of districts are said to contain only 6% of the total Afghan population. 

19.  However, it is now widely accepted that the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated over the past year.  The EU Special Representative to Afghanistan told an international conference in mid-September that the situation was as bad as it’s been since 2001.  The current NATO ISAF Commander, General David McKiernan, stated in July that, "I have consistently said that we are seeing an increasing level of violence in Afghanistan, especially in the east and the south."8  US Defence Secretary Robert M. Gates also warned in testimony of the "greater ambition" of insurgents in Afghanistan and said that attacks there had increased steadily since the spring of 2006.

20.  Kai Eide, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to Afghanistan, concurred with those comments pointing to deteriorating security, stating recently that he had "no doubt that the security situation is not only challenging but becoming more challenging."9  Indeed, this sentiment is representative of a group of expert reports appearing in early 2008, all of which called for prompt action to avert a disastrous outcome in Afghanistan.10 

21.  ISAF’s General McKiernan has cited three reasons for these setbacks: a change in tactics by insurgents to focus attacks on more vulnerable targets, the progress of NATO and Afghan forces into regions previously controlled by the Taliban, and the sanctuaries along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.11  Many analysts believe that subsequent to their original defeat in 2001, the Taliban were able to re-infiltrate many areas throughout the country, particularly the south and southeast where the national government is weakest - and, as a consequence, violence and insecurity in these areas have risen dramatically.12 

22.  In a dramatic example of continued insecurity, the June breakout of 900 inmates from a Kandahar prison was not only a propaganda coup for the Taliban, but also a tactical success in which insurgents freed a number of fellow fighters and exposed the weakness of security in the area, which has only become more tenuous in the aftermath of that coup.

23.  Partly as a result of this increased insecurity, Allies have seen an increase in their ultimate sacrifice - troop casualties - with some of the highest rates yet experienced.  British troops are being killed at a rate higher than the peak of the Iraq war.13  French troops suffered their greatest military loss in twenty-five years in an August ambush by insurgent forces that left ten dead and twenty-one wounded.14  At the time of writing, the United States had a higher casualty rate in Afghanistan than it did in Iraq.15 


24.  The obstacles to successful completion of the ISAF mission are complex, overlapping and mutually reinforcing.  Among the central challenges is the need for a simultaneous and coordinated security and development effort, required by the truism that development can only exist in a secure environment, but that lasting security relies completely on development.

25.  Ensuring security remains the primary goal of NATO forces in Afghanistan, a task for which a military Alliance would seem well suited.  And yet, even as NATO forces have decisively and repeatedly won conventional military engagements with the Taliban, the opposing militant forces’ have effectively increased their use of spectacular terrorist attacks such as suicide bombings and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

1. Personnel and Equipment Shortages and Restrictions

26.  The mission continues to face well-publicised shortages of troops and equipment.  This shortfall continues to stretch ISAF’s abilities to combat the Taliban as effectively as NATO would wish.  General McNeill, former ISAF Commander, indicated that if US counterinsurgency planning was strictly applied, planning such an operation in Afghanistan would call for more than 400,000 allied and Afghan troops,16 but readily admitted such numbers would never be available to him.  His successor, General McKiernan, has confirmed that his military effort remains under resourced.

27.  This longstanding shortage of troops has led to repeated and vigorous public debates among Allies about burden-sharing in Afghanistan.  While NATO’s Secretary General has repeatedly expressed his preference for force-generation activities to take place behind closed doors, nations with forces deployed in the relatively volatile south of Afghanistan have made public their urgent requests for other Allies to come to their assistance with more troops and assets.

28.  Several increased deployments of forces to Afghanistan over 2008, including that of 3,200 US Marines, 700 French troops, and 200 German quick reaction force troops, were especially welcome and answered the Canadian call for reinforcements in the south.  Additional deployments appear to be forthcoming as well.  For example, German Defence Minister FranzJosef Jung has committed to calling for a higher ceiling in the German forces’ parliamentary mandate of 3,500 soldiers, which comes up for renewal in late 2008; reports indicate an additional 1,000 German troops might be deployed. 

29.  Also welcome was the prospect of a significant influx of new US forces into Afghanistan.  President Bush announced in mid-September the deployment of an Army brigade and Marine battalion with a total of about 4,500 troops.  Both US presidential candidates were also making positive statements at the time of writing on the need to increase the US commitment to the stability and security of Afghanistan.  Trends appeared to signal a significant shift of American resources and focus from the improving Iraqi theatre to Afghanistan.

30.  Beyond shortages of personnel and equipment, national caveats governing the rules of engagement of some nations’ contingents continue to complicate the task of providing security throughout the country. 

31.  General Egon Ramms, Commander of NATO’s Joint Force Command Brunssum, told the Assembly in May that caveats had the same practical effect as having fewer forces deployed and hampered operational activity.  He noted that out of 62 ISAF-related caveats, his command had been able to “sort out” 17, leaving 45 in place. 

32.  As many as nineteen nations impose geographical limits on where their troops can operate.  In addition to presenting planning and execution problems for commanders on the ground, national caveats dealing with geographic restrictions have been charged with undermining Allied solidarity, with some Allied nations asserting with some justification that risk is not equally shared among all national contingents in Afghanistan. 

33.  Officials state that the most damaging caveats remain those that are not declared; these can emerge when, for example, a commander on the ground attempts to move a given set of national forces only to be refused unexpectedly.  Finally, caveats imposed by one nation on other national contingents operating within their area of operations have also caused difficulties.

34.  These caveats only serve to further complicate the challenges our commanders face and ultimately lengthen the time necessary for our forces to carry out their mission.  Italy’s announcement on 13 June that it was lifting the mobility caveat on their forces in Afghanistan was welcome news in this respect;  it is hoped that others will follow the Italian lead.

35.  It may also be necessary to review rotational times for troops deployed to Afghanistan.  The vast majority of nations use a six-month deployment schedule, with some as low as four months.  And yet expert military officials suggest that it takes four to five months to build the necessary relationships with local forces and knowledge of the terrain in order to be effective.  This leaves a window of perhaps six weeks in a year of full effectiveness.  Additionally, it is widely recognized that the most dangerous windows for deployed troops are the first and last 30 days in theater; during the former, soldiers are learning their environment, and in the latter, there is a risk of increased complacency.  A rotation time of 12-15 months would therefore allow for maximum effectiveness on the ground.  Such a rotation would be offset by longer periods at home, providing greater stability in the family life of personnel.

36.  Other shortfalls include a need for additional unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which have the capability to identify individuals on the ground as well as spot areas of disturbed earth that could indicate the placement of an improvised explosive device (IED).  Furthermore, some nations are deploying forces ill-equipped to deal with the IED threat (through jammers and training).   Helicopters, of course, remain a major requirement too, which will be alleviated, but only partially, by a recent NATO initiative to lease private helicopters to move cargo. 

2. NATO’s Exit Strategy: Training Afghan Security Forces

37.  The consolidation of Afghan security forces, while progressing, still is far from completion.  Six years of training efforts have yielded less than 100,000 deployable Afghan police and soldiers, a limitation that directly impacts adversely on ISAF’s ability to hold territory following a successful military operation. 

38.  That is why NATO’s top priority shortfall for Afghanistan remains the need for additional Operational Mentoring Liaison Teams (OMLTs), with over 20 additional OMLTs required to fill the Commander’s minimum requirements of a total of 59, according to General Ramms’ statements to the Assembly. 

39.  The OMLT programme is part of NATO’s effort toward developing the ANA. OMLTs provide training and mentoring to support ANA units’ operational deployments, and also provide a liaison capability between ANA and ISAF forces, co-ordinating the planning of operations and ensuring that the ANA units receive support from critical enabling Allied capabilities such as close air support and medical evacuation.  OMLTs are composed of 12-19 personnel, depending on the type of partner unit and are deployed for periods of at least 6 months in order to build enduring relationships with the ANA and maximise the mentoring effect. 
40.  NATO officials have underscored the importance of OMLTs as NATO’s “exit strategy”.  Not only do increased OMLT deployments result in more rapid training of ANA units, but additional OMLTs allow for the similar US Embedded Training Teams (ETTs) to shift to training police forces, another critical element of overall Afghan stabilization progress.  The success of the overall mission could be significantly delayed by the inability to generate additional training teams. 

41.  To be clear, OMLTs should themselves be free of caveats, to prevent major breaches of trust when an ISAF team imbedded with an Afghan unit does not fully share the risks to that unit.  We should also keep in mind that recent decisions to expand the size of the Afghan security forces will require a commensurate increase in the number of trainers we will have to provide to work with them.

42.  It remains the case that the initially high hopes for the EU police training mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL), launched in June 2007, have not yet been fulfilled.  The EU effort, which aims to mentor higher-level officials in the management of policing, takes a very different approach from the comparatively massive effort provided by the US in police training, which includes 4,000 trainers, focusing on short-term training and deployment of large numbers of Afghan security personnel. 

43.  The EUPOL mission has come under heavy criticism for its relatively small scale, lack of presence at the district level, staffing and funding problems, and slow deployment.   As noted in the report of this Committee’s visit to Afghanistan, additional concerns included EUPOL’s strict rules of engagement, which some told the delegation amounted to national caveats and deprived EUPOL of the necessary flexibility to move around, especially out of Kabul where they were needed.  It should also be noted that well-known political difficulties between NATO and the EU have prevented politicallevel agreement on the cooperation between ISAF and EUPOL on the ground; EUPOL has instead had to rely on bilateral agreements with various ISAF PRTs.  The EU has given renewed strong signals of its support to Afghanistan pledging, among other initiatives, to triple its funding of EUPOL (to 35.7 million euro) and aiming to double the mission’s personnel to approximately 400.

3. NATO’s Limited Role in Reconstruction and Development17

44.  The PRT system has largely been considered a success, and this Committee was impressed with the work of those it visited in September 2007.  However, each PRT is led by one nation according to its own national approach.  Additional coordination among different PRTs would allow for greater benefits across Afghanistan.  Fully funding PRTs, which are reported to be underfinanced, should also be a priority.

45.  One of the lessons of the most successful operations in theatre is that in the immediate aftermath of a successful operation to displace the Taliban from a geographic area, a short window opens for international actors to make immediate impact and deliver assistance to the local population.  In this respect, immediate funding such as the US Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) allows military forces to exploit the time gap between the end of military operations and the establishment of an environment that is safe enough for the engagement of civilian agencies and NGOs to engage in.  The Deputy Commander of NATO’s Joint Force Command Brunssum told the Committee in May that he advocated the provision of such funds to more national contingents serving with NATO in Afghanistan so that they can perform quick-impact reconstruction and development projects in the wake of a security operation.  

4. Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan and at Home

46.  The support of the Afghan population will continue to determine the eventual success of ISAF’s mission, and a continuous, pro-active public information campaign is necessary in order to counter Taliban messages.  Indeed, the Taliban message that it will outlast the international forces must be countered by a clear message conveyed by all ISAF contributing nations:  we are ready to stay until security is established and the stabilisation and reconstruction process is complete.  For the moment, polls continue to show a majority the Afghan population supporting ISAF and its role in the country, but that support is eroding gradually over time.18

47.  Indeed, experts warn that the Taliban are increasingly winning the battle of public opinion. Joanna Nathan of the International Crisis Group describes a sophisticated and extensive propaganda operation directed at weakening public support in ISAF contributing nations as well tapping a deep vein of nationalism in Afghanistan.  Nathan concludes that "the Taliban are successfully driving the news agenda and creating a perception of a movement far stronger and more omnipresent than it really is. Taliban atrocities often go unreported in areas they have made off-limits to independent verification. And their methods to control the message go beyond those of your typical press office: Community leaders and journalists who might speak up are cowed with threats or worse.”19

48.  The case that international forces are in Afghanistan to support the public are dramatically undercut with each instance of civilian casualties which regrettably continue to result from ISAF and coalition air strikes.  As I stated in my report last year, the support and trust of the Afghan people could not be more crucial to our success, and Afghan citizens increasingly fear that international forces are not taking all possible precautions to avoid civilian casualties. 

49.  Further clouding this issue is the deliberate use of human shields by insurgents, as well as their spectacular, but often false, claims of large numbers of civilian deaths for propaganda purposes.  In addition, disagreements between the UN, ISAF, and the Afghan government on the numbers of casualties and culpability for specific incidents only contribute to the problem. 

50.  ISAF Commanders have sought to address incidents of civilian casualties by issuing new rules of engagement in 2007 and again in September 2008.  ISAF Commander General McKiernan responded to conflicting reports of the results of a particularly controversial 22 August air strike by expressing condolences for those who lost their lives, calling every civilian death a “tragedy.”  He called for more “coordination between international military forces, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United Nations Assistance Mission Afghanistan for future incidents involving civilian casualties, because we cannot allow differences to provide an opportunity for insurgents to drive a wedge between us.”20  On 2 September, General McKiernan issued a revised tactical order re-emphasizing the importance of putting Afghan troops as lead elements during combat operations, calibrating how quickly troops can escalate their use of force, and requiring multiple sources of information before attacking a target.21

5. Addressing Narcotics

51.  The cultivation and production of opium in Afghanistan continues to plague the country, contributing to lawlessness, violence, and corruption.  Cultivation and traffic of poppy weakens key institutions, and significantly strengthens the Taliban, which uses drug money to finance its activities and is increasingly interconnected with drug traffickers.

52.  At a September briefing to top NATO officials, Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, reported a significant decline in the cultivation of opium in Afghanistan as well as an important increase in the number of provinces that are opium-free.  

53.  Indeed, the 2008 Afghanistan Opium Survey 2008, issued in August, shows a 19 per cent decrease in opium cultivation and a 6 per cent drop in opium production. According to the report, the number of opium-free provinces has increased by almost 50 per cent since last year, from 13 to 18. Indeed, 98 per cent of the opium is grown in just seven provinces in the south-west (Hilmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Farah, Nimroz, and to a lesser extent Daykundi and Zabul), where there are permanent Taliban settlements and organized crime groups profit from insecurity.  The distinct geographical overlap between regions of opium production and zones of insurgency shows the inextricable link between drugs and conflict.

54.  The report attributes the decrease in cultivation to good local leadership assisted by bad weather.  Strong leadership by some governors has discouraged farmers from planting opium through campaigns against its cultivation, peer pressure, and the promotion of alternative development.  Drought has also contributed to crop failure, particularly in the north and north-west where most of the opium is rain-fed.

55.  A more effective counter-narcotics campaign should include confronting government officials involved in drug trafficking or facilitation, and developing a comprehensive, nationwide approach to building sustainable livelihoods and infrastructure. 

56.  Eradication will also have to be a part of the counter-narcotic strategy, and should be performed by Afghan forces rather than ISAF, which is not trained, manned or equipped for such a task.  The Afghan police will have a major role here and will need to boost its ability and willingness to interdict drug producers and traffickers.  However, eradication should focus on the larger, industrial-scale poppy growers and avoid targeting the poor, who might otherwise be driven towards the insurgency.  Clearly, increased access to regional and global markets for other products made in Afghanistan will be essential in developing alternative livelihoods. 22

57.  The UN’s Antonio Maria Costa specifically underscored the key role ISAF could play in support of the Afghan government’s counter-narcotics efforts.  For the moment, ISAF’s considers this one of its “key supporting tasks,” including sharing information, public information campaigns and providing in extremis support to the Afghan forces conducting counter-narcotics operations. 

58.  Costa suggested that ISAF consider expanding its support to include destroying heroin laboratories and interdicting drug convoys.  He also asked ISAF to focus on major traffickers, neutralizing or at least identifying them, so that their movement can be disrupted; and to focus on regaining military control of western Nimroz province and the southern Zabul and Daykundi provinces where opium cultivation is relatively low and insurgency is not a major threat.  Finally, he stressed ISAF’s support to strengthening border security to help prevent the illegal trade.

6. Additional Challenges

59.  Among the many additional challenges facing Afghanistan is the bleak state of the judicial system, where efforts to establish a credible and independent justice sector have languished in the face of corruption and limited resources.  As underlined in last year’s report, judicial authorities and law enforcement officials remain widely mistrusted.  Their weakness is a central factor in the GOA's inability to effectively address corruption and narcoticsrelated problems. As a result of the official judiciary's limitations, Afghan citizens increasingly tend to rely upon local traditional courts (shura), a particular concern because the Taliban appear to be exerting increasing control on the shuras of the southern provinces.

60.  Additionally, there remains debate within the Alliance as to the appropriate course of action regarding any reconciliation processes with former opposing militant forces.  Any Alliance position in this regard must, of course, be in line with that of the Afghan government.  

61.  Clearly, definitively defeating the insurgency in Afghanistan will without a doubt require a regional approach, considering the relative safe haven the Taliban enjoys across the border in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).  Indeed, the southeast of the country is almost entirely populated by Pashtuns, from whom the Taliban draw the bulk of their strength.  As the RAND expert, James Dobbins, has pointed out, “we can win the hearts and minds of every single Pashtun in Afghanistan, and we’re still going to have an insurgency that we’re not going to be able to eradicate as long as we have a larger population of similar ethnicity across a border they don't recognize continuing to project power and influence into Afghanistan.”23

62.  Resolving this challenge must inevitably take into account Pakistan’s internal politics, its government’s management of the FATA and Pashtun nationalism.  The recent change of leadership in Pakistan will undoubtedly affect that country’s strategy towards the militants who increasingly are targeting Pakistani leaders.  Pakistani reports indicating that NATO and US forces had crossed the border to strike targets in Pakistan were sure to complicate matters even further. 

63.  The role of Iran in Afghanistan is also critical, and disputed.  There is no doubt that the two neighbours share a number of interests, such as combating heroin trafficking.  Afghan leaders have generally been positive regarding Iran, with Afghan President Karzai calling Iran “a helper and a solution.”  Senior US officials, on the other hand, have accused Iran of fomenting instability in Afghanistan by arming insurgents.  The role of Iran in Afghanistan’s long-term prosperity cannot be overestimated.

64.  The mission in Afghanistan continues to suffer from a generalized deficiency in coordination among the various international actors involved in the effort.  The appointment of Norwegian diplomat, Kai Eide, as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan was a welcome development.  The coordination of the efforts of all international actors in Afghanistan, including NATO, the UN, the EU, the World Bank, and NGOs, with the Government of Afghanistan will remain among the most critical elements of any successful strategy in Afghanistan. 

65.  All indications were that Kai Eide was the right man for the job.  However, it falls to all of us to ensure that he has the necessary clout to perform the critical task we have assigned him.  Unfortunately, at the time of writing it appeared that Eide was still hobbled by insufficient support from UN headquarters and member states to fully carry out this critical role.  Eide himself has put it best: “We have the support of the international community but I want that resource to be translated into tangible commitments, which means an ability to expand the mission both here and on the ground to do useful work.” 

66.  The success of the UN in its coordination and overall direction of the political and economic elements of Afghanistan’s recovery – in close partnership with the Government of Afghanistan is a required complement to NATO’s limited role. 


67.  Even as there was broad agreement that the mission faced grave difficulties, NATO Allied leaders and their partners in theatre continue to assert that failure is not an option.  French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, recently stated that "it's probable, unfortunately, that we will incur more losses, even if we do everything possible to minimize the risk. But the reasons for hope are much greater than the fear. Our action is legitimate, it is legal, it is necessary."24 

68.  Looking ahead, it will be critical to ensure that the Presidential and legislative elections of 2009 are carried out in a secure and credible fashion, as they will widely be considered a referendum over the last seven years of effort by the current government and the international community.  If they are poorly managed, it is likely that the situation will deteriorate even further and more rapidly.  We must be ready to respond if additional efforts are required.

69.  However, it must not be forgotten that NATO’s role in Afghanistan remains limited; the Alliance cannot, and should not, take the place of other organizations and civilian actors, including the Government of Afghanistan, who are better able to work towards enduring political and economic solutions to the challenges facing Afghanistan.  Even while NATO itself works towards a “comprehensive approach” to operations that would involve greater coordination with other actors in the field, it remains unquestionable that NATO can only offer part of the solution to the overall mission of stabilization and reconstruction in Afghanistan. 


70.  NATO’s second largest operation is KFOR, deployed in June 1999.  Approximately 14,800 troops from 24 NATO members, 7 partner nations and 1 Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) country were deployed in Kosovo as of mid-June 2008.25  KFOR was first mandated to deter renewed hostility and threats against Kosovo by Yugoslav and Serb forces; to establish a secure environment; to demilitarise the Kosovo Liberation Army; to support the international humanitarian effort and to assist the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

71.  KFOR was composed initially of some 50,000 personnel from Allied countries, partner countries and non-NATO countries under unified command and control. Improvements in the security environment enabled NATO to reduce troop levels to around 26,000 by June 2003 and then to 17,500 by the end of that year. In August 2005, the North Atlantic Council (NAC) decided to restructure KFOR, replacing the four existing brigades with five multinational task forces (MNTF), to allow for greater flexibility in operations and increase the focus on intelligence, with task forces working closely with both the local police and population to gather information.

72.  The Sub-Committee on Future Security and Defence Capabilities visited Belgrade and Pristina in April 2008 on a joint mission with the Assembly’s Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security.26  The delegation also visited the city of Mitrovica, an ethnically divided municipality in Northern Kosovo. 

73.  The visit took place during a transitional period marked by uncertainty; Kosovo had declared independence on 17 February, and adopted a new Constitution, which subsequently took effect on 15 June.  Since the visit, on 11 May, Serbia held parliamentary and local elections, leading to the eventual forming of a pro-Western governing coalition in Belgrade, which nevertheless sought to use all available legal and diplomatic means to contest Kosovo’s independence.  The April signature by the EU and Serbia of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) demonstrated a clear European perspective for Serbia.  While the agreement was conditional on delivery of war crimes suspects to The Hague, the capture and delivery of Radovan Karadzic to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague in July was considered a milestone event.

74.  During its visit in April, the Assembly delegation met with KFOR’s Deputy Commander, German Major General, Gerhard Stelz, who described how KFOR fulfils its objective of maintaining a safe and secure environment throughout Kosovo in which all citizens - irrespective of their ethnic origins - can live in peace, and where democracy and civil society can gradually gain strength. 

75.  The provision of security remained the clearest and most important element of KFOR’s mission. Among the most basic security challenges KFOR faced were the restraining and containing of outbreaks of violence; ensuring public security for all groups including minorities, covering basic issues such as ensuring access to transport to and from places of employment; border control; and infrastructure protection of elements such as the power grid and post offices, as well as protection of ethnic enclaves and cultural sites.

76.  General Stelz summarized KFOR’s position by explaining that although it could accomplish these tasks, KFOR could not solve the underlying political issues at the heart of the problem. 

77.  Nevertheless, KFOR’s presence remains crucial to guarantee security and stability in the country and has been urged by Kosovo authorities to continue its role there.  Indeed, the delegation learned that NATO’s Kosovo Force was universally recognized as a neutral party, and seen as playing a positive role in Kosovo.  Kosovar officials, including President Fatmir Sejdiu, expressed gratitude for the contribution of NATO forces to the security and stability of Kosovo, as well as for the numerous development projects KFOR has undertaken involving bridges, hospitals, and cultural projects. 


78.  NATO has to cope with the lessons it learned in Kosovo from the tragic events of March 2004, when rumours that three Albanian children drowned after allegedly being chased into a river by Serbs triggered a wave of riots. Large ethnic Albanian crowds targeted Serb and other nonAlbanian communities, burning at least 550 homes and twenty-seven Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries, and leaving approximately 4,100 people from non-Albanian minorities displaced. Nineteen people were killed, and over a thousand wounded.27 A KFOR spokesman indicated the violence had been orchestrated, and cast doubt on Serb responsibility over the initial drownings.28

79.  In the aftermath of the riots, KFOR and UNMIK were heavily criticized for their confused and uncoordinated response, and accused of having failed in their mandate to protect minority communities. A report filed by the German police serving under UNMIK laid blame on KFOR, and in particular on the German contingent, for failing to respond to requests for assistance by the police.29 But, as KFOR officials underlined, the troops’ ability to adequately respond to violence was severely limited by the rules of engagement, or caveats, that allowed the use of firearms only in self-defence, that limited the deployment to a certain sector of Kosovo, or that required troops to seek approval from national authorities rather than the KFOR command structure. 30

80.  KFOR’s failures to stem the violence in 2004 have largely re-shaped the operation.  A recent Commander of MNTF(E) pointed out that, as a result of the March 2004 events, nations removed the majority of military caveats that hindered KFOR operational capabilities.31 

81.  KFOR also increased its non-operational efforts as a response to the 2004 violence.  One example was the creation of Liaison and Monitoring Teams (LMTs) in each MNTF to stay alert to any disturbances.  KFOR’s 34 Liaison Monitoring Teams of up to 15 soldiers are permanently based in a community in order to interact with local authorities and provide and receive accurate information. 

82.  KFOR’s “walk and talk” policy involved direct, face-to-face interaction with locals (through hundreds of interpreters hired by KFOR), as well as numerous civil-military cooperation activities such as employment schemes, construction of schoolhouses and roads, and an information campaign through local media.  KFOR also undertook joint border patrols with neighbouring countries as a confidence-building measure.


83.  KFOR’s roughly 15,000 troops are currently organized into five multinational Task Forces (MNTFs).  KFOR’s daily tasks include Kosovo-wide operations such as patrols, not least to demonstrate “presence” throughout Kosovo; static tasks such as guarding sensitive areas such as the airport or UN buildings; and patrols and checkpoints that allow for a clearer understanding of the situation in particular communities. 

84.  KFOR’s cohesion was not in doubt, despite the fact that NATO member states did not all share the same position on Kosovo’s declaration of independence.

85.  General Dexter of KFOR’s Multinational Task Force North confirmed that there were no political limitations or caveats on his ability to move forces throughout his area without going to national capitals for authorization.  The Deputy Commander agreed that this applied to the whole of KFOR, which featured almost no caveats that have any impact on the Commander’s flexibility. The Commander had authority under the Reserve Force Concept to move forces from a more stable area to a potential flashpoint.  An initial test of this capability was patently successful, when Estonian, French, and US troops responded to border violence in February 2008. 

86.  KFOR troops had gained more flexibility in other ways as well.  As a German officer stationed in Kosovo pointed out, in 2004 troops had only the option to open fire or retreat; by comparison, his soldiers had tear gas grenades and riot gear, and the training to use them.  Even more importantly, troops will not have to wait for orders from Joint Force Command (JFC) Naples to use them, but the decision will be taken directly on the ground.32 

87.  Italian Commander Giuseppe Emilio Gay took over command of KFOR in August 2008 from French General Xavier Bout de Marnhac.  Kosovo’s President Fatmir Sejdiu at that time reiterated the continued need for NATO's presence in the country, particularly during the critical months when the Kosovo Security Force would be created. 


88.  Of course, a number of challenges will continue face the mission, as clearly demonstrated by the direct attack on NATO forces in the town of Mitrovica only one month after Kosovo’s declaration of independence.

89.  KFOR officials expressed regret that its troops had come under fire during the violent riots of March 2008 from crowds deliberately including women and children in the front lines.  KFOR’s first priority was force protection, and these situations created dangerous circumstances.  The 17 March events in north Mitrovica marked the first time that KFOR soldiers had come under direct fire from small arms, grenades, and Molotov cocktails; such attacks, clearly beyond any conceivable “red line”, gave KFOR the right to use deadly force in self-defence. 

90.  The Assembly delegation visited Mitrovica, including its main bridge over the Ibar river marking the de facto dividing line between the Serb-dominated North and the Albanian-dominated south of Mitrovica. The delegation observed that the city was for all intents and purposes divided and would likely remain so for the foreseeable future, and that KFOR’s presence there was crucial to preserving order. 

91.  Peacekeeping in that area was confronted by major challenges including the widespread availability of weapons in the general population.  Brigadier General, Christian Dexter, French Commander of KFOR’s Multinational Task Force-North (including Mitrovica), also lamented the near-total lack of rule of law in the Serb north of Kosovo, a concern also underlined by Mitrovica Mayor, Bajram Rexhepi.  Even though UNMIK was present and conducting “daily business” there, institutional weaknesses contribute to its overall ineffectiveness.  For example, UNMIK police had the authority to detain suspects for no more than 72 hours, after which they would be released because there was no judge to try the case.

92.  Imposing Pristina’s authority in the north was not considered feasible under current circumstances.  Indeed, General Dexter warned that such an action in the north would turn KFOR into an occupation force.  At the time of writing, the three Serb-dominated municipalities of Leposavic, Zvecan and Zubin Potok, and the northern part of the ethnically-divided city of Mitrovica, continued to defy Pristina’s authority.

93.  In mid-June, NATO member states agreed that KFOR would supervise and support the start-up and training of a civilian-controlled, professional and multi-ethnic Kosovo Security Force, with up to 2,500 members.  The development of such a force remained a critical prerequisite for success, although the reported walkouts by Serbian officers of the Kosovo Police Force in the immediate aftermath of the declaration of independence demonstrated the continued challenges to what had been one of the notable achievements of the international involvement in Kosovo. 

94.  Those states which have not yet recognised Kosovo's independence will not participate, with countries such as Spain, Slovakia and Romania declining to contribute funds or training to the new force. 

95.  According to KFOR’s Deputy Commander German Major General Gerhard Stelz, the new tasking (which includes not only standing up the future Kosovo Security Force, but also standing down the Kosovo Protection Corps “with dignity”) engendered a need for new resources if it was to be accomplished within planning timelines. 

96.  Finally, there remain major unresolved questions regarding the planned deployment of the EULEX rule of law mission to Kosovo and its relationship to UNMIK.33  Political difficulties in clarifying mandates and modalities delayed the deployment of EULEX and at the time of writing continued to threaten further complications.  KFOR officials warned that should these two institutions fail to coordinate properly, a security vacuum might result, especially in Kosovo Serbpopulated areas.  They feared that NATO's KFOR would then be the only institution left to fill this vacuum, a situation for which KFOR was neither equipped nor mandated.

97.  In addition, full cooperation between NATO and the EU remained hostage to blockages due to well-known political issues.  This has prevented the EU mission, tasked with the establishment of Kosovo's legal framework and administrative infrastructure, from using NATO assets on the ground.  It remains imperative for the success of the mission at this critical juncture for the organizations to be able to work together in the most effective manner possible, and your Rapporteur calls on all sides to demonstrate some flexibility in order to allow this cooperation to go forward.  An agreement to differ but work together would work wonders.


98.  Following the invocation of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty for the first time in alliance history in response to the September 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States, the Allies agreed to implement eight measures to support the campaign against terrorism. One of these was the deployment of part of NATO’s Standing Naval Forces to the Mediterranean. The deployment, formally named Operation Active Endeavour (OAE), started in October 2001 and is commanded by Allied Forces Maritime Component Command HQ Naples (CC-MAR Naples).

99.  The Assembly’s Sub-Committee on Transatlantic Defence and Security Cooperation visited Joint Force Command (JFC) - Naples, Italy, on 6 and 7 May 2008 for a comprehensive briefings on the three operations run by JFCNaples (Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean, peacekeeping in Kosovo, and a training mission in Iraq), as well as the Command’s structure and functioning. 34

100.  The Sub-Committee learned that OAE’s mission, to conduct maritime operations to actively demonstrate NATO’s resolve to help deter, defend, disrupt and protect against terrorism, is carried out through the efforts of approximately 700 personnel who track thousands of ships on a daily basis in the Mediterranean.  The area of operations encompasses the international waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar.  The Operation has had three components: the counter-terrorism mission in the Mediterranean, anti-mine warfare, and protection of transiting vessels through the Strait of Gibraltar.  The latter, however, was suspended in May 2005 due to reduced requests for escorting.

101.  The counter-terrorist element of the mission gained greater profile in April 2003, following a NAC decision to enhance the operation’s effectiveness against potential terrorist activities by increasing its mandate to include the potential boarding of suspect ships.  In March 2004 the Area of Operations of Active Endeavour was extended to the whole Mediterranean. 

102.  The mission has since continued to evolve towards greater use of intelligence and fewer ships and other physical assets.  Whereas NATO forces in 2005 had a clear picture of where their own ships were, they had no systematic means to track commercial traffic in the Mediterranean.  The situation changed dramatically when the International Maritime Organization mandated that ships over 300 tons had to use an Automatic Identification System (AIS) transmitter.  This measure revolutionized NATO’s ability to track shipping, and CCMAR Naples set out to develop a network of nations tracking AIS data. 

103.  To date, 44 nations make up the resulting Maritime Security and Safety Information System (MSSIS).  The MSSIS is an unclassified system, accessible to all countries contributing data to it.  It offers a real-time picture of the status of commercial shipping in the Mediterranean.  As a result of the use of the MSSIS system, NATO has a much clearer picture of maritime traffic in the Mediterranean.  As of November 2005, only approximately 300 ships were being tracked; that number has risen to approximately 10,000 today. 

104.  MSSIS is used by NATO as a building block to gain “maritime situational awareness”, which essentially means having a good sense of the location, stated itinerary, and cargo of ships throughout a given area of interest.  The delegation learned that using the MSSIS information as well as additional classified sources, and processing them through database search engines on a real-time basis, OAE can develop a picture of the vessels in the Mediterranean and be alerted to potential vessels of interest.  A vessel of interest could be, for example, a ship that has deviated from anticipated behaviour or whose declared AIS information raises suspicion. 

105.  Once a suspicious ship is identified, OAE assets could hail the ship, request to board, and eventually track the ship into territorial waters where a properly alerted national maritime authority would take appropriate action.  Boarding takes place only with the compliance of the captain of the ship and the flag state, in accordance with international law. If the captain of the suspicious ship does not wish to be boarded, NATO forces will follow the vessel and alert the port in which it is coming to rest, whose authorities will have the legal right to examine it.

106.  The operation has gained “success through technology and partnerships”, the delegation was told.  First of all, NATO’s presence in the Mediterranean through OAE has become a wellknown fact, providing a deterrent effect to terrorist or potentially illegal or hostile activity there.  The increased NATO presence in these waters has benefited all shipping traveling through the Strait by improving perceptions of security. At any one time, based on an intelligence driven network, OAE can keep track of the large number of ships daily using the Mediterranean.

107.  NATO forces participating in OAE have monitored more than 100,000 vessels, boarding some 100 suspect ships. In addition, over 500 ships have taken advantage of NATO escorts through the Strait of Gibraltar. NATO’s OAE assets have successfully detected, reported, and intercepted hundreds of suspicious vessels, many of whom engage in the transport of illegal explosives, drugs or other contraband, as well as human trafficking, providing an impact on wider illegal activity at sea. 

108.  The operation has also resulted in some unexpected benefits, including several interventions to rescue civilians on stricken oil rigs and sinking ships.35  OAE also provided the framework for the maritime component of NATO’s assistance to the 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Greece. Task Force Endeavour conducted surveillance, presence and compliant boarding operations in international waters around the Greek peninsula with Standing Naval Forces surface ships, supported by maritime patrol aircraft and submarines and in coordination with the Hellenic Navy and Coast Guard.

109.  Another critical element of OAE’s success, according to JFC-Naples authorities, has been the outreach and cooperation with non-NATO nations who would otherwise have no link to the Alliance.  Countries such as Israel, Algeria, Ukraine and Russia have all contributed in various manners to the operation’s success, and benefiting from its results and direct cooperation with NATO personnel. 36

110.  OAE’s mandate does not extend to all types of security challenges in the Mediterranean and the operation should not become confused with a maritime policing effort; that remains a national responsibility.  OAE’s mandate is exclusively to counter terrorist activities, rather than dealing with challenges such as illegal immigration or drug smuggling.  However, in carrying out its antiterrorism mandate, the operation collects data which could be useful for countering such challenges, and shares it with national authorities. 

111.  The desired end state of the operation is to limit the threat of maritime terrorism to a level that can be dealt with by the forces of nations in the framework of their normal activities.  However, in pursuing that objective, OAE is limited by several factors.  First and foremost is the operation’s dependence on the AIS system and resultant difficulties in identifying any vessel under 300 tons.  Vice Admiral Roberto Cesaretti, Commander of CC-Mar Naples, emphasized that the operation remains in its infancy, and is in constant evolution.  He believed that in the future, all merchant ships of any tonnage would be required to use an AIS transponder; he urged that the Assembly look into efforts to more rapidly lower the weight threshold at which ships must use AIS. 

112.  The delegation was also told that a limiting factor to NATO’s naval operations is the scarcity of assigned oilers (refuelling ships).  These ships are under heavy demand for national requirements and Alliance activities; additional procurement of oilers would allow for greater operational capacity and cost efficiency through avoidance of port costs and fluctuating fuel prices.  

113.  In the Black Sea, a region seen as increasingly important to Europe and the United States as a major East-West energy supply bridge and as a barrier to many transnational threats, Operation Black Sea Harmony, which is open to all Black Sea littoral states, complements NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour by closely cooperating and sharing information with NATO military authorities.  This operation is recognized as a major security provider in the Black Sea maritime domain.  When asked about this issue, NATO’s Admiral Cesaretti suggested that from his technical viewpoint, he was satisfied with the information-sharing from those efforts currently underway in the Black Sea. 


114.  On request from the African Union (AU), in June 2005 NATO launched a Support Mission to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), which aimed to end the violence in the Sudanese province of Darfur and improving the humanitarian situation in the region, where tens of thousands had been killed and millions displaced since 2003. This support mission concluded at the end of 2007, when the last airlift of African peacekeepers serving in the province of Darfur was carried out.  The mission comprised the coordination of strategic airlift for peacekeepers from Africa,, , n countries to and from Darfur and training in Command and Control and operational planning.  

115.  Since June 2005, NATO helped to provide air transport for 37,476 passengers, including peacekeepers and civilian policemen from African countries contributing to the mission. During five troop rotations, 473 flights in and out of Sudan were coordinated by personnel from JFC Lisbon and other NATO commands. The mission was led from Europe, with a small team working in Addis Ababa.  During this period, NATO also trained and mentored over 250 AMIS officials in the three AMIS Headquarters. 

116.  The AMIS mission has led to the discussion of further NATO-AU collaboration.  In June 2007, NATO agreed in principle to respond positively to a May 2007 request by the AU Commission to provide strategic airlift for AU states willing to deploy under the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  Finally, in September 2007 the NAC approved the provision of assistance to the AU in evaluating the operational readiness of the African Standby Force (ASF) brigades, part of the Union’s efforts to develop its peacekeeping capabilities.

117.  NATO’s involvement in Africa indicates that the Alliance has recognized the region’s return to the strategic spotlight; NATO’s “growing interest and concern” in Africa stems from the region’s oil and mineral resources, political instability, and vulnerability to terrorist penetration.37 Recent initiatives by both the US  and EU underline this increased strategic focus on the African continent.  The US has recently launched AFRICOM, a new US Combatant Command of the Department of Defense responsible for US military operations in and military relations with 53 African nations. The EU has, for its part, engaged in increased cooperation with the African Union, and institutionally claims a special historical bond and responsibility for Africa.  The behaviour of other international actors further underlines this trend: witness China’s increasing influence in Africa (with bilateral trade growing by nearly 50 percent annually), driven principally by China’s need for energy resources to sustain its booming economy.

118.  Recent history has demonstrated that perhaps the greatest challenge in any effective NATO role as regards Africa going forward is the need to avoid competition with the EU, which for historical reasons tends to regard assistance to Africa as principally a European responsibility.  It will be critical, in particular, to avoid repetition of the damaging competition between NATO and the EU in providing strategic lift assistance to the AMIS mission.  The AU requested assistance from both organizations in May 2005, and the two organizations couldn’t agree on which would respond or even on a logical division of labor.  Each organization’s unwillingness to defer to the other led to fruitless discussions resulting in separate airlift efforts and requiring coordination by the AU out of its headquarters at Addis Ababa.  Subsequent reporting indicates that the EU had sought to use the European Airlift Centre at Eindhoven in the Netherlands to coordinate the lift under an EU banner, with members citing Europe’s historic ties to Africa, and perhaps more relevantly, longer term involvement in Darfur (since 2004).  NATO preferred its own in-house facilities at SHAPE.  As in other cases, lack of cooperation in this area lead to an ineffective use of what are extremely scarce assets. 


119.  The NATO mission in Iraq, intended to assist Iraq in establishing an effective and enduring security sector, began in the summer of 2004, when the NAC responded positively to a request from the Iraqi Interim Government.

120.  The mission’s initial tasks were to identify training opportunities for the Iraqi security forces, to start training selected groups of HQ personnel, and to establish liaison arrangements between the Iraqi Interim Government and the coalition forces.  In September 2004, however, the NAC agreed to expand NATO's assistance and broaden its scope. In December 2004, the mission was re-defined as NATO Training Mission - Iraq (NTM-I).

121.  NTM-I’s goals include assisting in the development of a self-sustaining Iraqi national command and control structure that is capable of employing its security forces effectively; the development of Iraqi security forces training structures that are efficient, responsive, selfsustaining and capable of meeting present and future security challenges; and the development of a self-sustaining Iraqi organization that is capable of identifying requirements for equipment that are effectively coordinated with appropriate national agencies so that the Iraqi security forces are properly equipped and supported.   Essentially, the mission seeks to build effective and sustainable multi-ethnic security forces in Iraq through developing professional leadership in the Iraqi security forces that will respect civilian control of security forces, international and local laws, and professional standards transcending sects or ethnicity. 

122.  The mission boils down to three activities: training, advising and mentoring in-country; Organising out-of-country training at NATO establishments; and coordinating equipment donations.  NTM-I is supported and funded by all 26 NATO members. Sixteen nations - 15 Allies and one partner country - had staff in theatre as of October 2007.38 

123.  NTM-I activities originate with Iraqis identifying their training and equipping requirements.  These are then validated by NTM-I, vetted through Allied Command Transformation, and then distributed among nations.  National offers are then validated by NATO and subsequently offered to Iraq. 

124.  During its visit to JFC Naples in May, the Sub-Committee on Transatlantic Defence and Security Co-operation was told that NTM-I has achieved significant results, despite its relatively low public profile and relatively limited staffing of 160 personnel.  More than 7,400 Iraqi personnel had been trained in Iraq as of May 2008, and 1,100 had been trained out of country through NATO (not including bilateral offers).  Trainees are selected by Iraqi authorities, with approximately 700-800 being trained in Iraq on any given day. 

125.  NATO has also coordinated the delivery of some €160 million worth of military equipment, including 100 BMP-1 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and 77 T-72 tanks.  Although tracking some small arms had been a challenge in the past, all weapons issued by the MOD and MOI in Iraq were linked to a specific person through extensive biometric data, the Sub-Committee was assured; NATOdonated equipment had 100% accountability today, and there was no evidence of NATO donations ever having ended up in the wrong hands. 

126.  The group was told that the mission had largely completed its original tasks of setting up institutions, such as an Iraqi Defence University, and it was moving towards a largely mentoring role, with the commitment of NATO forces dropping from a high of 224 to 160 personnel; by mid2008, plans called for no permanently based NATO personnel at the training academy at Ar Rustamiyah. 

127.  The NATO presence in Iraq remains by invitation of the Iraqi government, and was recently extended through a letter to the NATO Secretary General which expressed continued interest in NATO's engagement through 2009.

128.  The mission demonstrates NATO’s increasing role in providing its expertise as trainer of security forces, first developed through its experience working with former Soviet states in the context of NATO enlargement.  NATO training activities bear witness to the evolution of the concept of security in the post-Cold War context, along with the required evolution by the Alliance to address these types of challenges. 


129.  The breadth and diversity of the activities conducted by NATO forces in the Alliance’s current operational remit confirms that it has undergone a fundamental and wide-ranging transformation from its strictly defensive Cold War stance and doubtlessly will need to take on further transformation. It seems that the trend of NATO’s involvement in increasingly diverse operations, often distant from the Euro-Atlantic area, in close interaction (if not cooperation) with other actors and across the spectrum of conflict will continue.  The above overview of NATO’s operations leads your Rapporteur to the following observations regarding their implications for the future of the Alliance.

130.  First, it must be recognized that NATO today is serving a crucial role in the interests of its member states, partners, and others.  Any notion that the Alliance was without a purpose after the end of the Cold War has, for the time being, been laid to rest.  In the battlefield, Allies are working well together and more effectively than ever before, with critical contributions by non-NATO member countries fighting by the Alliance’s side in every operation. 

131.  The increase in the number of operations, as well as their increasingly diverse nature, signals that NATO will continue to be called on by its members, as well as by other organizations such as the UN, to respond to crises of many different sorts.  Assessing NATO’s suitability, as well as ability to respond to such demands, is therefore critical, as is an examination of how nations working together under the NATO banner can more effectively conduct operations.

132.  It has become clear that NATO’s system of force generation and deployment doesn’t match the requirements of the conflict in Afghanistan.  The Commanders’ repeated pleas for additional resources, be they personnel or equipment, and the flexibility to use them appropriately, indicate that the Alliance is still struggling to match resources to stated goals and outcomes.  We must find a way to fix the system of allocating the necessary resources to operations, or our deployed personnel will suffer unnecessarily and the ultimate outcome of the conflict will be cast into doubt.

133.  Among the most difficult questions facing the Alliance today is the serious and legitimate concern that exist on the part of some Allied nations regarding the need for equitable burdensharing in Allied operations, especially in Afghanistan.  When agreeing to an operation through consensus, it is critical that Allies feel that risks are shared equitably, if the Alliance is to mean anything at all. 

134.  Among the sharpest warnings in this regard was the intervention by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the 2008 Munich Security Conference.  "We must not - we cannot - become a two-tiered alliance of those who are willing to fight and those who are not," he warned, speaking on Afghanistan.  "Such a development, with all its implications for collective security, would effectively destroy the Alliance."

135.  The problem of caveats continues to hamper the effectiveness of Allied operations. These restrictions are “cancers that weaken efforts to conduct a successful NATO mission,” according to a recent interview with the former SACEUR General James Jones. 39  The corrosive effect of caveats is only magnified by higher-intensity situations such as the 2004 riots in Kosovo.  The ineffective reaction by KFOR in that instance led to a significant easing of those restrictions on troops participating in KFOR.  It is hoped that a similarly traumatic catalyzing event will not be necessary to further reduce caveats in Afghanistan.

136.  The funding of NATO operations continues to work on a “costs lie where they fall” basis, meaning that nations are responsible for paying for all deployment-related costs for their participation.  A recent RUSI paper notes that “this means that the United States, Britain, France, Canada, the Netherlands, Poland and Germany bear most expenses because they regularly participate in large numbers in NATO missions.” 40  The current system also creates disincentives for nations to be “first in” for a given operation, due to the high costs of establishing facilities needed to start-up in a theatre.  It also leads to a reluctance by nations to move into other geographic areas of a given theatre and leave behind facilities that they funded and constructed. 

137.  An eminent group of former national defence chiefs in early 2008 called for a commonly financed NATO operations budget.  The report also argues that NATO members who do not contribute to a given operation should not have input into the conduct and review of those operations.41  The NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, has, for his part, advocated increased common funding for operations.  However, he remained sceptical that additional resources would be forthcoming in a period of overall declining defence budgets across the Alliance. 

138.  Regardless of the exact mechanism, increasing the common funding of operations is an absolute necessity; if all Allies decide to pursue a mission because it is in the Alliance’s interest, all Allies should contribute to it. While such a mechanism won’t cure all of the Alliance’s ills, it can go a long distance towards spreading the burden of fulfilling Alliance commitments equitably.  This should be complimented by increased common or multi-national funding of the shared capabilities necessary for expeditionary operations. 

139.  NATO operations increasingly require some element of “soft” tasks such as humanitarian or reconstruction activities.  The Alliance is conducting these tasks, which theoretically fall under the remits of other international and national authorities and nongovernmental actors, out of necessity.  While NATO’s military forces may not be best suited for this job, the absence of other actors in the field due to security and other concerns has forced NATO to take up the slack.  This is nowhere more evident than in ISAF’s Provincial Reconstruction Teams.  NATO operations in the Balkans have also featured such elements as security sector reform or other activities commonly considered as police work. 

140.  The Alliance’s recently concluded humanitarian operations should not go forgotten in this context.  NATO responded to a relief request from the US in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.  The Alliance coordinated 39 contributions by NATO Allies and partners, as well as the use of the NATO Response Force (NRF) and the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force (NAEW&CF) to the relief effort, delivering aid by use of an airbridge established between Ramstein Airbase and Little Rock, Arkansas.  A second and much more complex operation saw NATO responding to the massive earthquake in Pakistan in October 2005 with a major air operation to deliver supplies, followed by the deployment of elements of the NRF.  Overall, over 3,500 tons of supplies were flown to Pakistan; almost 2,000 tons of goods were delivered to remote villages by NATO helicopters, which also evacuated thousands of victims.  A NATO field hospital treated nearly 5,000 patients and mobile medical units thousands more.  NATO engineers upgraded water supplies and a fuel farm was established to support helicopter operations.

141.  NATO is therefore already clearly engaged in activities that had in the past been considered civilian in nature.  In areas in which the Alliance is performing its tasks, the need to find a way to work most effectively with other organizations, in particular the EU and the UN, has never been greater.  It has become apparent that while commanders on the ground are able to creatively cobble together some forms of cooperation, full effectiveness will remain impossible without higher-level agreement in Brussels.  While NATO can bring some resources and competencies to bear in operations such as that in Afghanistan, the Alliance has never sought to become a reconstruction or development organization.  As a result, its success in a given operation will always require an effective combination of the military assets NATO brings to secure the peace and the civilian assets and experience which are the mainstay of other organizations, such as the EU, the UN, and non-governmental organizations. 

142.  This situation has yet to register significant progress. The German Minister of Defence, Dr. Franz-Josef Jung, recently pointed out that “NATO-EU cooperation is more necessary in today’s theatres of operations than it has ever been. In political terms, however, it is still based on procedures that date back to 1997.” He also underlined that pragmatic collaboration in small steps is not enough, and that priority must be given to overcoming blockages between the two institutions in order to raise cooperation to a higher level.42  The NATO Secretary General regularly emphasizes that delivering on joint commitment requires the highest political attention in NATO and EU capitals;43 without the political will to implement changes, hopes for better coordination between the two organizations will remain unrealized. A September proposal by the French Presidency of the European Union for a high-level council is certainly worth considering if it will enable us to move beyond current blockages.

143.  Specific types of assets are increasingly important in Allied operations of today and tomorrow, particularly as the Alliance operates in distant theatres in very rugged terrain under challenging conditions.  These include aviation assets, such as strategic lift to get to the battlefield; helicopters able to perform their missions in extremely demanding terrain and under difficult conditions; and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which can provide critical battlefield intelligence.  This is not only the case in Afghanistan but in closer theatres as well:  to cite only one example, Germanoperated Luna UAVs assist with monitoring the extensive borders of Kosovo with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania over rugged, sparsely populated mountainous terrain. 

144.  There is significant room for increased investment in these capabilities, as well as innovation to increase their impact.  For example, the use of precision airdrop, increasingly used by the US in Afghanistan, could reduce the load on the highly stressed Alliance helicopter fleet.  Clearly, while organizational elements such as Allied Command Transformation and the NATO Response Force have significant roles in mapping out the future of the Alliance, NATO’s day-to-day operations serve as critical drivers of NATO transformation.  True to the maxim that necessity is the mother of invention, NATO forces in the field are innovating and demonstrating what the future of Alliance operations will look like.  We must ensure that the Alliance is taking these lessons into account when mapping out the capabilities it seeks to have at its disposal in future conflicts.

145.  It must not be forgotten that the success of any given operation - particularly one which involves high-intensity combat operations and casualties, such as Afghanistan - is linked to the support of Allied publics to those missions.  Polls such as the Pew Global Attitudes Survey of June 2007 indicate that many European publics with significant forces in Afghanistan are eager for the deployed troops to come home.  There is a direct role for members of the Assembly to play here: if NATO operations are to succeed, it is imperative that the rationale for the initial deployment, as well as for maintaining the commitment necessary to see it through, be articulated clearly and forcefully to the public.  Members of the Assembly can demonstrate leadership in this area. 

146.  Among the many possibilities, members could work to ensure that their constituents do not erroneously link the conflict in Afghanistan with that in Iraq; explain the existence and utility of the PRT system; and underline the fact that ISAF’s presence is under a UN mandate, and supported by both Afghanistan’s government and its public. 

147.  It has become an oft-cited mantra to state that NATO cannot be allowed to fail, especially in Afghanistan.  Yet the statement becomes no less true for its repetition.  First, we must be mindful of the possible consequences of abandoning Afghanistan to the Taliban and allowing it to return to a breeding ground for terrorism and narco-trafficking.  We have undertaken a responsibility to the Afghan people, who continue to support NATO’s presence on the ground, but whose patience is running out.  We cannot abandon them to the medieval tyranny of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.  We must also remember our responsibilities closer to home:  terrorism emanating from this region is a risk that endangers all of our capitals and publics, and we have a responsibility to work to protect them from this threat, as well as from the scourge of narcotics.

148.  Finally, Allied defeat in Afghanistan could prove, for all intents and purposes, the end of NATO as an effective and proactive alliance.  This is especially true if it loses credibility in the eyes of its largest security provider, the United States.  As General Jones argued in his January 2008 Atlantic Council report, “if the Afghanistan effort fails, NATO’s cohesion, effectiveness and credibility will be shaken and the rationale for NATO’s expeditionary, out of area, role would be undermined.  Member states would become reluctant to embark on other out of area operations, and the United States would be less likely to turn to the Alliance in times of crisis.  This could lead to a moribund Alliance, which could find itself reduced to geopolitical irrelevancy and marginalization.” 44  Your Rapporteur shares these concerns. 

149.  The Alliance has served its members well for nearly 60 years; it has progressed well and is progressing further in the process of transforming itself to address the security threats of the 21st century, as demonstrated most clearly by the operations it is conducting.  All members have a stake in ensuring that our Alliance successfully carries out the tasks we have collectively assigned to it. 


See attachment


See attachment


1   As of September 2008.
2   Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.
3   For more information on Non-NATO member contributions to operations, please see the 2008 Sub-Committee on Future Security and Defence Capabilities Report (159 DSCFC 08 E) by Sverre Myrli (Norway).
4   The 2007 General Report of this Committee (164 DSC 07 E rev 1), and the Mission Report on the Committee visit to Afghanistan (215 DSC 07 F), are both available on the NATO PA website.
5   U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, President’s FY 2009 International Affairs Budget Request, Opening Remarks Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 13 February 2008.
6   NATO web page,
7   DOD News Briefing with General Dan McNeill, Commander, NATO ISAF, 6 February, 2008.
8   "U.S., Afghan Forces Focus on Pakistani Border", American Forces Press Service, 10 July, 2008.
9   UNAMA Press Conference with Kai Eide, Susana Rico, and Aleem Siddique, 19 August 2008.
10   Among these many reports are the following: “Saving Afghanistan: An Appeal and Plan for Urgent Action.” The Atlantic Council of the United States, January 2008; Afghanistan Study Group Report, Center for the Study of the Presidency, 30 January 2008; “Afghanistan: The Need for International Resolve”, International Crisis Group, 6 February 2008; “Winning the Invisible War: An Agricultural Pilot Plan for Afghanistan”, Center for Technology and National Security Policy, National Defense University, January 2008; Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan Final Report, January 2008.
11   "9 Americans Die in Afghan Attack," The New York Times, 14 July 2008.
12   See for example the Afghanistan Study Group report, Center for the Study of the Presidency, 30 January 2008
13   "Afghanistan Death Rate for British Troops Tops Height of Iraq Fighting," Telegraph, 27 August 2008.
14   "Ambushed French troops faced large rebel force: officers," Agence France-Presse, 1 September 2008.
15   "US deaths reach 101 for the year in Afghanistan," Associated Press, 24 August 2008.
16   ‘Condoleezza Rice Visits Afghanistan,’ The New York Times, 7 February 2008.
17   For a more detailed discussion of development and assistance programs in Afghanistan, please see the Economics and Security Committee’s 2008 General Report, “Economic Reconstruction in Afghanistan: Developmental and Security Implications” (161 ESC 08 E)
18   2007 Asia Foundation survey: 42% of Afghans see Afghanistan headed in the right direction versus 44% in 2006 and 64% in 2004; 24% feel it is moving in the wrong direction (21% in 2006 and 11% in 2004).  BBC World Service/ABC News/ARD (Germany) poll, Oct/Nov 2007: 54% headed in the right direction versus 55% in 2006 and 64% in 2004; 24% moving in the wrong direction, versus 22% in 2006 and 11% in 2004. The majority of Afghans still have a positive opinion of the GOA (59%) and of President Karzai (63%); however, support decreased during the last year. The Taliban are still the biggest threat to the country for 52% of the population (versus 57% in 2006). Support for NATO/ISAF forces has dropped from 78% in 2006 to 67% in 2007, while confidence in the ability of US, NATO, or ISAF forces to provide security dropped from 67% to 52%.
19   Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal, 2 September 2008.
20   NATO-ISAF, “General McKiernan expresses sorrow for civilian non-combatant casualties and proposes joint approach to future enquiries”, 3 September 2008.
21   “NATO Tries to Reduce Afghan Casualties,” The New York Times, 16 September 2008.
22   International Crisis Group February 2008, Atlantic Council of US January 2008, Center for the Study of the Presidency January 2008.
23   James Dobbins, Transcript from “NATO’s Big Mission: The United States, Europe and the Challenge of Afghanistan”, The Brookings Institution, 13 November 2007.
24   "French Leaders Mull Changes in Afghanistan," Defense News, 26 August 2008.
25   Non-NATO nations involved as of June 2008 were Armenia, Austria, Finland, Ireland, Morocco, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ukraine.
26   The Mission Report is available on-line at
27   Human Rights Watch, “Failure to Protect: Anti-Minority Violence in Kosovo, March 2004” July 2004.
28   “Albanians posed as Serbs to stoke ethnic fires in Kosovo”, Daily Telegraph, 27 March 2004.
29   “German troops 'hid like rabbits' in Kosovo riots”, Daily Telegraph, 9 May 2004.
30   Human Rights Watch, “Failure to Protect: Anti-Minority Violence in Kosovo, March 2004” July 2004.
31   John J. Kruzel, “Kosovo Task Force Prepared for Conflict”, American Forces Press Service, 5 December 2007.
32   “NATO Says It’s Prepared to Keep Peace in Kosovo”, The New York Times, 9 December 2007
33   For more information on this issue, see the Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security’s 2008 General Report, “Kosovo and the Future of Balkan Security” (155 DCS 08 E)
34   A Mission Report is available on-line at
35   Among these interventions was the evacuation of 84 workers from an oil rig in December 2001, and winching women and children off a sinking ship carrying some 250 refugees in January 2002.
36   Russia deployed frigate RFS Pytliviy in September 2006 and frigate RFS Ladniy in September 2007. Ukraine deployed frigate URS Ternopil in May/June 2007, corvette URS Lutsk in November/December 2007 and is expected to deploy a third ship, frigate URS Sagaidachnyi, in 2008. Source: NATO web page.
37   Herman J., Cohen, “NATO’s Military Arm Starting to Look South Toward Africa”, American Foreign Policy Interests, 2006.
38   NATO Nations: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States.  Partner: Ukraine.
39   Interview with General James L. Jones, USMC, Retired, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), 20032006, by David S. Yost, NATO Defence College Research Paper no. 34, January 2008.
40   “The end of NATO and the danger of U.S unilateralism,” Daniel Korski and Michael Williams, RUSI Transatlantic Programme Briefing, 8 February 2008.
41   “Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership”, by Klaus Naumann, John Shalikashvili, Peter Inge, Jacques Lanxade and Henk van den Breemen; Noaber Foundation, 2007.
42   Dr. Franz-Joseph Jung, “The World in Disarray”, 44th Munich Conference on Security Policy, 8 February 2008.
43   Jaap De Hoop Scheffer, Speech at the 44th Munich Conference on Security Policy, 9 February 2008.
44   “Saving Afghanistan: An Appeal and Plan for Urgent Action”, The Atlantic Council of the United States, January 2008.

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