167 DSC 06 E - LESSONS LEARNED FROM NATO'S CURRENT OPERATIONS
JULIO MIRANDA-CALHA (PORTUGAL)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
II. OPERATIONS IN AFGHANISTAN
A. PROGRESS ON SPECIFIC AREAS OF CONCERN IN AFGHANISTAN
1. Narcotics Production
III. NATO IN IRAQ
IV. NATO IN AFRICA
V. NATO HUMANITARIAN OPERATIONS
1. NATO continues to expand its operations to areas well beyond the borders of its member states. Most of its efforts outside of Europe focus on Afghanistan, but smaller operations are underway or have recently been terminated in Sudan, Iraq and Pakistan. Those operations vary tremendously in scale and scope. In Sudan a small group of NATO personnel assists the African Union in an effort to quell the violence in Darfur. In Iraq, several hundred international recruits are training Iraqi military personnel and coordinating the donations of equipment for the new Iraqi military. In Pakistan, approximately 1,000 personnel worked as part of an intense humanitarian relief operation, following the devastating earthquake there in 2005. However, it is in Afghanistan that NATO faces its largest operational challenges. Approximately 20,000 personnel from NATO and partner country militaries are there at any one time, under the umbrella of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
2. What unites this diverse package of operations is that they demonstrate how completely the Alliance has transformed itself since the end of the Cold War. At the start of 2006, NATO was conducting four out-of-area operations, not to mention the ongoing mission in Kosovo. The purpose of this report is to distil some lessons learned from those operations. Many questions are raised as NATO expands its operational stance: How can we minimize the effects of national caveats? What can we do to ensure interoperability in the face of difficult and distant deployments? How should NATO interface with other international organizations? Is the NATO Response Force (NRF) an appropriate tool for humanitarian relief operations? One report cannot provide comprehensive answers to all of those questions, but by examining each operation we hope to provide the members of this Assembly with a factual basis for opening a dialogue on the critical operational issues facing the Alliance.
3. The situation in Afghanistan remains fluid, and it is difficult to present a single overall measure of progress. On the one hand we have witnessed historic elections, a growing and more professional military, capable of providing security for the country, the return of more than 2.5 million refugees, and the spread of reconstruction and development projects across the country. On the other hand, we see increased civilian and military casualties in the southern part of the country, endemic corruption in the political system, a weak economic infrastructure and a parliament that includes some of the individuals responsible for Afghanistan's dire condition.
4. NATO is also at a critical point in its engagement in Afghanistan. It took on the mission when ISAF was limited to a small area around Kabul, but the mission has since grown to encompass most of the country. At the moment, NATO is expanding its mission in southern Afghanistan, the site of most of the violence since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. This is a seminal moment in the Alliance's involvement in Afghanistan, but it has been marked by controversy. The UK, Canada, the Netherlands, and other contributors, all committed to move their forces into the region, but the issue became highly political in the Netherlands. After delaying a final decision on the deployment until parliamentary approval could be secured in February 2006, the government ultimately decided to deploy an additional 1,400 troops.
5. ISAF and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), the US-led coalition, continue to operate as separate missions. There were indications last year that the two would be merged, but that appears to have been bypassed in favour of a parallel structure. The justification for doing so centres on the operational plan of each mission, with Enduring Freedom said to be oriented towards counter-terrorism, and ISAF oriented towards stabilization and reconstruction. In reality, however, the two missions increasingly overlap in both territory and function. The US-led coalition has a significant stabilization and reconstruction aspect to its mission. It created the (Provincial Reconstruction Team) PRT concept and continues to run many of PRTs in the country. At the same time, troops under the ISAF mandate cannot be expected to maintain a clear line between stabilization operations and military operations designed to eliminate insurgent and terrorist forces as they move into southern Afghanistan. Part of the mission is to assist in the creation of a safe environment, and a large part of that involves eliminating the remnants of the Taliban and Al-Qaida that continue to harass the efforts to stabilize the country. Creating an artificial divide between the missions will tempt contributing NATO nations to place national caveats on their forces to define what they will and will not do. In a situation as fluid as southern Afghanistan, this is potentially dangerous.
6. A delegation from both the Political and Defence and Security Committees visited Afghanistan in May 2006, where they met with military officials including the Commander of ISAF, General David Richards. The military commanders emphasised the importance of Stage 3 in which NATO takes control of operations in the south of Afghanistan (which occurred on 31 July 2006). With this step, NATO is taking on the most demanding operation in its history. Military commanders underlined that this is a combat operation and the larger number of troops in that troubled region would only be useful if they could be used robustly. Gen. Richards in particular was adamant about the need for flexible forces that can be used for a range of missions.
7. Meetings with the military leadership also alleviated some of the confusion resulting from the distinction between counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism and the respective roles of ISAF and the US-led coalition. Counter-insurgency operations involve the use of a basket of tools and seek to deprive insurgents of safe havens from which they can cause instability in the region. Gen. Richards referred to the "ink spot" strategy of creating areas of stability and relative prosperity that would spread and eventually link together, thus depriving the insurgents of areas where they can operate with impunity. Counter-terrorist operations are more narrowly tailored operations against particular high-value Al-Qaida terrorists operating in the region. ISAF will carry out the former task, which will involve combat operations. The latter duty will be conducted by the US-led coalition, which is coming under the command of ISAF. The commanders who met with the delegation acknowledged that there is often only a subtle distinction between the two, and that soldiers on the ground cannot always be expected to distinguish between them.
8. Gen. Richards also emphasised the need for a quick transition from Stage 3 to Stage 4, when ISAF will take command of all operations in the country including eastern Afghanistan. This will insure that there will not be any artificial line between ISAF and the US-led coalition currently in control of operations in eastern Afghanistan.
9. Gen Richards underlined the importance of setting developmental priorities and creating a seamless web between security and development efforts, which are insufficiently synchronized at present, and must be well co-ordinated in order to ensure lasting success. He strongly suggested that we need to focus on projects to improve irrigation, roads and energy supply. Significant improvements in those areas would allow farmers to grow viable crops, other than opium poppy, and transport them to market. By focusing on irrigation and roads, the international community could make a stronger contribution to basic infrastructure that would improve the reach of central government and make it possible to have a sustained counter-narcotics programme.
10. A significant problem is the fact that Taliban fighters enjoy safe havens in parts of Pakistan. There is a broad level of agreement among regional experts that some authorities in Pakistan turn a blind eye to Taliban activities in Pakistan. Part of this stems from the reluctance of Pakistani President Musharraf to confront elements in his intelligence services that support the Taliban. The end result is that NATO forces confront an insurgency with havens across the border that provide vital sources of recruitment and training.
11. The NATO Operations Plan, adopted on 8 December 2005, identifies several key military tasks:
* Assist the Afghan government in extending its authority across the country;
12. In theory it is possible to draw firm distinctions between those components and counter-terrorist operations, but as the former Afghan Minister of the Interior Ali Jalalai recently wrote, "separation of terrorism from other security threats ? such as drug-related crime, warlordism and general crime ? is not always possible." Commanders in Afghanistan echo his assessment and have spoken to the Committee about the need for flexibility. As Members of Parliament, we should not create barriers that make it more difficult for them to do their job.
13. Many of those barriers come in the form of national caveats. Existing caveats are a significant source of problems and NATO commanders describe the classified book containing all national caveats as the size of a large city phone directory. For example, they noted that some troops stationed at Kabul International Airport are restricted by national caveats from leaving the airport. Another national contingent that has command of a PRT is prevented from staying outside their base overnight. In effect this restricts them to an 80-kilometer radius from their base, allowing them to be present in only a small part of the province in which they are based. The UN Special Representative to Afghanistan, Tom Koenigs, has also pressed this issue. He argues that NATO needs more troops in the country with fewer restrictions on their freedom of action and cites 71 national caveats that should be removed.
14. On the positive side, however, all the members contributing forces to the mission in southern Afghanistan have reportedly eliminated major caveats. ISAF forces operating in western Afghanistan have also been freed from many national caveats. "Operation Turtle" in Farah province was the first significant combat manoeuvre operation launched under ISAF and is seen by NATO commanders as a example of what can be achieved when forces have the flexibility to perform all of the needed tasks in a given area of operations.
15. Nonetheless, the military commanders and NATO officials who have met with the Committee remain concerned about the caveats of some members, regarding the use of their forces in combat operations. They emphasize that combat operations are a critical part of the mission and will become even more significant as NATO takes over the provinces with relatively high amounts of violence related to terrorist activity, insurgency, drug production or a combination of all three.
16. Some argue that it is necessary to keep the stabilization and reconstruction operations separate from the counter-insurgency mission because the more proactive military operations can cause popular resentment. Yet, it is a potentially dangerous mischaracterization to describe OEF as the "hard" security operation and ISAF as the "soft" security operation, designed to win the hearts and minds of the population. A first step to winning the confidence of the local population is ridding them of the individuals and groups that terrorize them and threaten to disrupt the reconstruction projects that are making a tangible difference for the local community. As the parliamentary elections demonstrated, Taliban-related candidates appealed little to the general population, and many operations against Taliban and Al-Qaida elements in the country are based on intelligence tips from the local population. In a poll of Afghans taken in December 2005, a large plurality of the respondents (41%) cited the Taliban as the single greatest danger to their country. It may be true that some segments of the population in southern Afghanistan are sympathetic to the Taliban and Al-Qaida, but a large majority are not, and welcome an opportunity to drive them out. Far from breeding resentment, those military operations often instil confidence in the local population that the international community is serious about stabilizing the country.
17. The overall security situation in Afghanistan presents a very multi-dimensional picture. On the one hand, Al-Qaida and Taliban elements are resilient and, according to General Michael Maples, Director of the Defence Intelligence Agency (US), represent "a greater threat to the expansion of the Afghan government since late 2001." For example, there is a considerable increase in attacks and an increased use of suicide bombers. Taliban fighters also appear to be developing new and deadly tactics such as improvised explosive devices. On the other hand, commanders on the ground note that a combination of a change in Coalition tactics towards greater use of dismounted infantry patrols, and intelligence tips from the local population, has led to more skirmishes with Al-Qaida and Taliban elements in the south and east of the country. It is also interesting to note that most engagements with Taliban forces take place in unpopulated areas, which suggests that they lack the popular support needed to host them in populated areas. Therefore, it is difficult to assess what the increased level of violence means for the future of Afghanistan. Regardless, it will impact on NATO operations, especially as NATO forces move into the areas where Al-Qaida and Taliban elements are most active.
18. It may be the case that Taliban forces are testing NATO to find weaknesses, or these may constitute attempts to make a final push during this time of transition. Some intelligence officers speculate that the Taliban may be seeking to cause enough casualties among NATO troops in a single incident to create political pressure for a withdrawal. This may be an explanation for why the Taliban is engaging in large-scale battles with NATO forces, even though they are being severely damaged in each engagement. September's "Operation Medusa" led by Canadian forces killed or captured nearly 600 Taliban fighters in the span of less than two weeks.
19. This is not to dismiss the upsurge in violence ? which is serious and a cause for concern ? but it should be considered in the larger context of what must be done to build a functioning Afghan state. The establishment of basic security throughout the country is vital to this larger mission, which is why it is of the highest importance that the Alliance meets and maintains its commitments. The UK, Canada, the Netherlands, and the US are performing the bulk of the dangerous work of improving security in the challenging southern region. The UK, Canada and the Netherlands also committed additional troops in the summer 2006, when it became clear that the situation was more volatile than it was originally perceived to be. In the summer, Poland also committed an additional 900 troops to the mission in Afghanistan.
20. At the same time, some allies' restrictions on the use of their forces in combat missions severely reduce their ability to assist their partners in the most difficult and dangerous tasks. As political leaders, we should not send our forces into dangerous conditions without the support they require. It is lamentable, but true, that General Richards and General Jones spent months asking for a reserve battalion of 1000 troops before member countries committed to securing the additional personnel. In meetings in September 2006, NATO members were unable to agree to send an additional 2500 troops. This sends the wrong signal to the Afghan government, and undermines the unity of purpose that we must show if we want to retain the confidence of the Afghan people, and indeed our own publics, in the credibility of NATO.
21. Beyond the military aspects of the mission, it is always important to consider what the Afghan population thinks about their current situation, because ultimately there can be no long-term success without their active participation in stabilization and reconstruction. In general the picture presented by recent surveys is highly positive. Seventy-seven % of those surveyed say the country is moving in the right direction. Most of those respondents cited improved security as the primary reason for which they believe the country to be moving in the right direction. In a May 2006 survey, 86% of Afghans stated that they felt safe in their districts. At the same time, a plurality of respondents (40%) cited security as their desired first priority for the government to focus on in its efforts to improve its citizens. Clearly Afghans are positive about the direction in which their country is heading, and they appreciate the efforts of the international community to improve their security, but they also harbour concerns about their future security. The job is not yet completed by any measure, and NATO's role is absolutely essential to the success of the overall international effort. Without basic security, economic development is impossible and popular opinion will shift away from its current optimism. Some military commanders in Afghanistan estimate that we have six months to show results in terms of improved security before the current goodwill begins to run out.
A. PROGRESS ON SPECIFIC AREAS OF CONCERN IN AFGHANISTAN
22. The 2004 and 2005 Defence and Security Committee General Reports note several interrelated issues that are of particular concern to the Committee. First is narcotics production and trafficking and its effects on the political and economic development of Afghanistan. Second is the power of the warlords relative to that of the central government. Third is the development of the Afghan National Army and its capabilities relative to the regional warlords.
23. This report is the third iteration of our attempt to track progress over time in Afghanistan on the critical issues. Press reports tend to be episodic and focus on the current situation, but the only way to assess progress is to examine changes over time. Your Rapporteur hopes that this attempt to measure longer-term progress will provide the members of the Committee with a better understanding of the mission in Afghanistan; what is working relatively well, and what must be improved to ensure the success of the mission.
1. Narcotics Production
24. Opium production is a core issue because it corrupts Afghanistan's political and economic development. Opium production grew during the 1980s and 1990s to become the major source of the country's GDP. By 2003 it was estimated that at least half the national GDP could be traced to opium production. Worse yet, the problem appeared to be growing as Afghanistan emerged from the extraordinarily repressive regime of the Taliban. In November 2004 the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNODC) found a 17% increase in the opium crop, compared to 2003. 131,000 hectares of land were used for opium production, compared to only 80,000 hectares in 2003.
25. In 2005, however, there were some indications of a marked reduction in opium cultivation. A March 2005 UN assessment found significant declines in opium poppy production. The report found that many farmers who grew opium poppies in 2004 stopped in 2005 and were instead growing wheat. Five provinces showed an increase in poppy production, but the increases in those provinces were outweighed by the decreases in the others. The area of poppy cultivation in the country fell by 20% in 2005, compared to the previous year, although the total reduction in the amount of opium produced was only 2%. This was because exceptionally good rains and growing conditions produced record yields in all crops in Afghanistan so the yield per hectare of poppy planted was higher than usual. Some provinces, such as Nangahar, show very sharp declines in poppy production. A subsequent UNODC report, released in September 2005, confirmed this trend.
26. The UNODC survey of Afghanistan published in September 2006, however, showed that this trend was reversed. Opium production rose dramatically with a record 165,000 hectares under cultivation, compared to 104,000 in 2005. The opium harvest is expected to be 6100 tons, an increase of 59% over the previous year.
27. A breakdown of those alarming numbers, however, offers some clues as to how to better tackle the problem. First, it is important to note that opium production is widespread, but the main production centres and areas of increasing production are highly concentrated. The area under cultivation for opium grew by 61,000 hectares across the country in the past year but nearly 43,000 hectares ? more than 70% of that total number ? was in one province (Hilmand). Not surprisingly, Hilmand is one of the provinces in the south of the country where the central government has the least control, and the Taliban is heavily present in its agricultural areas. Second, efforts to reduce opium production in the areas where the central government is more firmly in control have shown some results. Of the 34 provinces in the country, 6 are now considered free of opium production and another 8 show continuing declines in its production, on top of last year's reductions. Most significantly, the large decrease in opium production in Nangahar province ? one of the provinces that until recently was a major opium production centre ? was, for the most part, maintained.
28. A comparison between the two provinces is revealing. In 2004 both Hilmand and Nangahar were two of the most important opium producing regions, accounting for nearly half of all production in the country. In Hilmand more than 29,000 hectares were under cultivation for opium, and Nangahar was only slightly behind with 28,000 hectares. However, in 2006 there is a marked difference between the two provinces, for only 4,872 hectares are being used for opium production in Nangahar, while production in the Hilmand area has exploded to nearly 70,000 hectares. The difference is that Nangahar is under the control of the central government and Hilmand is a centre of Taliban control in the countryside. There could be no clearer illustration of the importance of the NATO mission of securing the region from Taliban elements to the counter-narcotics programme than this dramatic difference between the two provinces.
29. There is a clear pattern to opium production in Afghanistan, and the majority of it is produced in the southern provinces, where the Taliban is heavily present. According to the UN, the Taliban encourages, and sometimes forces, opium production in the areas where it operates. It then uses the revenue generated by opium to fund its operations, equipment purchases and training areas. This presents us with a circular problem: without reducing opium production, the Taliban will have a massive source of funding, but at the same time, widespread eradication of opium, without first providing the infrastructure needed to make other crops a viable alternative, risks driving farmers to support the Taliban. Driving out the Taliban and reducing opium production, therefore, are two sides of the same coin. However, there is a logical order to the process: first eliminate the Taliban as a significant fighting force, then develop the infrastructure in a relatively secure environment, and afterwards proceed with a firm counter-narcotics programme.
31. Finally, it is worth briefly mentioning the demand side of the narcotics problem. Most of the heroin consumed in Europe comes from Afghanistan's poppy fields. As President Karzai has pointed out, it is demand for heroin in Europe that fuels poppy production and a significant drop in its consumption would make poppy a far less attractive crop for Afghan farmers. A serious programme to reduce opium poppy production in Afghanistan should include a renewed commitment to reduce heroin consumption across Europe. Beyond the obvious benefits to our societies, driving down the demand for heroin will drive down the incentive to produce opium poppies.
2. Progress in Building the Afghan State
32. Afghanistan is struggling to build a functioning state. There is no system of taxation in place yet, beyond collecting customs duties. Half of the state budget is financed through international contributions. All areas of public administration are lacking in trained personnel and other resources. Government ministries have been created and ministers have been appointed, but the country lacks the necessary trained individuals to fully staff those ministries.
33. The corrosive effects of opium production are also felt throughout the governing structure. Numerous individuals from local police to ministry officials are suspected of being part of the problem rather than part of the solution. In addition to undermining the counter-narcotics programme of the central government, they instill a culture of bribery and criminality in the basic structure of the government.
34. There has been some progress in building the basic institutions for governance. The Afghan constitution, drafted in 2003, sets forth the broad outlines of the emerging government of Afghanistan. Among its features is a strong presidency with the power to appoint one-third of the upper chamber of the legislature. There are checks on the power of the president; the parliament can impeach the president and the president is prohibited from disbanding the parliament.
35. The bicameral parliament is divided in a lower chamber (Wolesi Jirga - House of People) and an upper chamber (Meshrano Jirga - House of Elders). The lower chamber of 249 seats is to be elected by the people. The upper chamber is selected by provincial authorities, district councils and the president. Both chambers include provisions to ensure some participation by female representatives. Half of the president's appointees to the House of Elders are to be women and the constitution states that at least 2 representatives from each of Afghanistan's 34 provinces should be female.
36. The constitution also has provisions to protect women and minorities. It recognizes the equality of women as citizens of Afghanistan. The Uzbek and Turkmen languages are officially recognized and they may be used as the official language in the regions where those minority groups are concentrated.
37. The constitution also attempts to craft a balance between modern constitutionalism and Afghanistan's traditional culture. Political parties may be established as long as they do not contradict the "principles of Islam" and laws passed by the government are not to go against the "beliefs and provisions" of Islam either.
38. The election process was successful, both for the presidential and parliamentary elections. The large turnout and eager participation of the population demonstrated its legitimacy. The international observers certified its fairness. The lack of violence showed that anti-democratic forces are either cowed by the presence of international military forces, lack popular support, or both.
39. Elections, however, are only a piece of the puzzle. Turning the Afghan parliament into a functioning, sustainable element in the democratic process will require long-term assistance and attention. Although it is too early to predict if the parliament will play a constructive role in the democratic development of the country, some preliminary assessments by NATO officials and other international organizations present in Afghanistan can offer some insights.
40. The Wolesi Jirga is split into roughly three even camps. Eighty-four members of parliament are associated with pro-government parties and 81 are linked to opposition parties. The remaining 84 belong to a range of factions that are independent or non-aligned.
41. In general, the parliament is a reflection of a conservative, religious society. Most of the representatives have religious affiliations, or a background fighting with one of the many anti-Soviet militias. Religion will have a strong impact on the parliament and its decisions. Islam is seen as the legitimate basis for law-making across the range of factions, and this may be used as a guiding principle for building consensus across ethnicities.
42. There is a possibility that the parliament will split along ethnic lines. We may also see the emergence of a divide in parliament between religious conservatives and more western-oriented technocrats. In fact, the most likely possibility is a combination of the two. The Jami'at-e-Islami party, for example, has a fundamentalist background, but some of its members are relatively liberal by Afghan standards. The Junbish-e-Melli is known as a primarily Uzbek and more secular organisation, but it includes fundamentalists as well. Depending on the issue, it is probable that different groupings will come together to support diverse policies for a range of reasons.
43. One interesting aspect is the strong showing of female candidates. Women occupy 69 seats, or 27% of the parliament. Many of those are the result of the electoral system that guaranteed a certain number of seats to women, but the total in parliament exceeds that quota. In part this may be because nearly half of the registered women voters in Afghanistan voted in this election, but clearly some Afghan men were willing to vote for female candidates as well. Some play prominent roles in the parliament and the deputy speaker of the Wolesi Jirga is a woman.
44. There are some valid concerns about individual members of parliament. The vetting process dismissed only 1% of candidates for human rights abuses or other criminal activities. This was because it was very difficult to prove that accused individuals were actually guilty of abuses. The end result is a parliament with a fair number of members of a questionable background. There are 19 members who are alleged human rights violators and 17 suspected drug traffickers.
45. Fundamental questions have yet to be addressed. It is still unclear how the parliament will function in practice, and how it will establish its relationship with the executive. At one level, we should not ignore the dramatic progress that has already occurred. A democratically elected parliament was unthinkable in Afghanistan only a few years ago, but at the same time we must remain focused on what needs to be done to turn a nascent democracy into a sustainable democracy. There may be a role for the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in this regard, and we should consider offering our expertise and experience as legislators to interested members of the Afghan parliament in a NATO framework or that of other international organizations.
3. Regional Warlords
46. During decades of civil war, most power in Afghanistan devolved to regional leaders who controlled their own militias, dispensed with justice as they saw fit and generally ruled over considerable portions of the country. With the fall of the Taliban government and the creation of an internationally recognized, and now democratically elected government in Kabul, much of the focus of the nation-building effort is on reducing the power of the regional warlords and increasing the power of the central government
47. In the 2004 report the Committee found that the regional warlords were a significant problem. The main challenge is to build an Afghan state, but this is not possible as long as independent warlords can maintain fiefdoms in parts of the country, extracting resources and collecting customs duties as if they were sovereign rulers. President Karzai called the militias the greatest threat to the country's security and warned that, "without disarmament the Afghan state will have really serious difficulties." Although the central government is slowly extending its control, these regional warlords are often extremely powerful in their areas and have little incentive to cede power to the central authority.
48. In 2005 the Committee report found substantial improvements. This is partially a result of regional strongmen being pulled into the government or official positions. The Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Programme also appears to have succeeded. The NATO Senior Civilian Representative told the NATO Parliamentary Assembly delegation that visited Kabul in September 2005 that all known heavy weapons are now under central government control, and that militia members have been disarmed. The UN disarmament programme officially ended in June 2005 with the successful demobilization of more than 63,000 militia members and the cantonment of 10,880 heavy weapons. Most of those former militia members are entering the UN-established Afghanistan's New Beginnings Programme for retraining and some are opting to be trained for positions in the army or the police force. Most, however, are choosing to be prepared for civilian occupations. It is of interest that the vast majority of those demobilized did not chose to join the military and instead opted for retraining in agriculture, business, or other vocations. According to the UN, only 5% chose to join the army or the police.
49. In short, militias have disbanded and heavy weapons are under the control of the central government. The trends are positive, but sustained support for the current policies of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration is needed to ensure the future stability of Afghanistan.
50. In particular the Disbanding Illegally Armed Groups (DIAG) Programme is critical to ensuring a deeper level of stability in the country. Although the larger militias have disbanded, smaller units of 20-200 armed individuals are rife across the country. NATO and Afghan government officials estimate that there are many such groups with a total of as many as 20,000 members. These illegally armed groups are a threat to the ongoing progress in Afghanistan because they are often involved in narcotics trafficking. The DIAG programme is attempting to disarm those groups and assist in their members' reintegration, but this will be a long-term challenge.
51. It should be noted, however, that the simple fact that small illegally armed groups have risen to prominence on the security agenda is a sign of progress. It is only because heavy weapons have been secured and large militias have been disbanded that the threat posed by small groups of bandits has emerged as a serious security issue.
4. The Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police
52. Progress continues in building the Afghan National Army (ANA), which now stands at more than 30,000. An additional 1000 are currently completing their training each month. The ANA is on track to meet its target strength by September 2007, three years ahead of schedule. The ANA is now the dominant non-NATO military force in the country in terms of training, size, and equipment. This is a notable difference from two or three years ago when the ANA was struggling to be a serious military presence in a country dominated by armed militia.
53. The ANA saw its first military action at the end of 2002 when it was deployed alongside coalition forces and it is now conducting more independent operations in southern Afghanistan against Taliban remnants. It is also playing an important role in supporting the regional governors by dismantling illegal roadblocks set up by local factions and confiscating weapons caches. By all accounts the ANA is performing well and is generally welcomed by the local population. There are now several permanent ANA units based around the country, including Mazar e-Sharif in the north, Kandahar in the south, Gardez in the east and Herat in the west. ANA units are also active in operations with ISAF and OEF forces.
54. Improved pay for soldiers is helping to build the military. Monthly pay has been increased to $70 from the original $30. Those working to train the army also report an emerging esprit de corps. Soldiers' morale is "very high, with all displaying a positive attitude towards their work and mission," said Office of Military Co-operation - Afghanistan Deputy Director of Defence Operations Sector, Lt. Col. Andy Fenton (UK). ISAF is expanding its support of the ANA by attaching liaison and mentoring teams to various units. Individual officers and NCOs will be embedded within Afghan units to assist their development.
55. The national police force is also rapidly expanding, according to the Minister of the Interior. Some 50,000 police are now operating across Afghanistan. In addition, the border police is approaching its desired end strength and is receiving specialized training and equipment from the United States and other donors. Corruption in the police force remains a serious concern, but the Ministry of the Interior increased pay to most officers to $70 per month, a considerable salary in a country where the estimated per capita GDP is, at most, a few hundred dollars per year.
56. Nonetheless, surveys of Afghan citizens show a distinct lack of trust in the police force. Although most Afghans have a high degree of confidence in their army and view it as a source of national unity, they are not pleased with the reputation of the police force. Many Afghans believe it is highly corrupt and ineffective, and this perception was confirmed by foreign diplomats who met with the delegation in May 2006. This is a very serious concern for the international community. Until Afghans have a higher degree of confidence in their police force, it will be impossible to implement the rule-of-law across the country.
57. Another important mission for the Alliance is helping Iraq develop its security forces in a manner consistent with democratic governance and civilian control of the military. Regardless of the divisions in the Alliance over the intervention in Iraq, all of the Allies recognize that it is now in their collective and individual interests to ensure that Iraq is increasingly stable and able to provide for its own security.
58. This is critical to the reconstruction of the country. An ongoing feature of post-Saddam Iraq is the violence perpetrated mostly by the Sunni Arab minority against the Shia majority. The attacks are increasing less on coalition troops, and more on civilians and the civilian infrastructure. Until this violence is contained, it will be very difficult to restore the country to any sort of normal economic and political life. Constant power interruptions, dangerous roads, and general lack of security hinder economic development and employment. The first step in ensuring a democratic and self-sufficient Iraq is building the sort of native security forces that can control the violence, but doing so in a way that does not return to the authoritarian methods of the past.
59. This is a major challenge in a country ruled by a brutal dictatorship that used the military as a primary means of repression. In the 1980s the army was used in the systematic slaughter of at least 50,000 Kurdish men, women and children. In the early 1990s, the army conducted operations against the Arabs in the southern marshes of Iraq, killing or forcibly moving more than 200,000 individuals. The Iraqi people are unfortunately accustomed to security forces and a military run by the Sunni minority that were often used to violently repress the Kurdish minority, the Shia majority and any dissent across the ethnic or religious groups. Breaking from that past and building security forces and a military that have the confidence of the population is a long-term and difficult task.
60. At the Istanbul summit in June 2004, all NATO members agreed to support the interim government of Iraq in the training of its security forces. The North Atlantic Council (NAC) then considered how best to implement this decision, and on 30 July agreed to establish a Training Implementation Mission to conduct training both inside Iraq and at other locations in the region or in Europe. The first troops for this mission were deployed in August under the leadership of Major General Carel Hilderink of the Netherlands, who was designated as deputy commander. Overall command of the mission is under US Army Lt. General Casey, who is commander of both the training mission and the Multi-National Security Transition Command in Iraq.
61. In September 2004 the NAC agreed to expand the mission in Iraq to include a training, education and doctrine centre in the country. In December of that year NATO Foreign Ministers met and authorized SACEUR to begin the next stage of the mission, expanding the size of the NATO presence from approximately 50 to 300. The name of the mission also changed to become the NATO Training Mission - Iraq. More that 1000 Iraqi officers had been trained in Iraq at the time of the report. An additional 500 Iraqi officers have been trained at facilities in Europe.
62. On 22 February 2005 at a meeting of the heads of state and government of all 26-member states at NATO Headquarters, the allies agreed that they would all contribute to the mission in Iraq. They united in support of the newly elected government, and consistent with UNSC Resolution 1546, all 26 allies are now contributing to the NATO mission to assist in training Iraqi security forces.
63. The new NATO Training Education and Doctrine Centre opened at Ar-Rustamiyah in September 2005. The opening of the centre marks a significant increase in NATO's commitment to Iraq, featuring both junior and senior officer courses. NATO also plays an important role in the new National Defence College that opened in September 2006. Other NATO training facilities and programmes are planned, including a Basic Officer Training Course.
64. Some Iraqi personnel are being trained outside of Iraq. Selected Iraqi security personnel are being instructed at the NATO Joint Warfare Center in Stavanger, Norway and the NATO School on Obergammergau, Germany. In addition, Germany is training Iraqi personnel in the United Arab Emirates. France is engaged in a bilateral training mission and will train Iraqi police in Qatar. Spain is taking the lead in training Iraqi soldiers for demining operations at a Spanish military base. Bulgaria and Greece signed an agreement with Iraq to train Iraqi troops at the National Military University of Bulgaria. Greece has trained 30 Iraqi personnel under this framework, as well as providing financial assistance.
65. NATO is also co-ordinating the equipment and technical assistance to the Iraqi authorities through its Training and Equipment Co-ordination Group, established at NATO Headquarters in October 2004. The group helps to ensure that bilateral aid offered by the allies is complementary and meets the needs of the Iraqi forces. To this end, several NATO allies have donated considerable amounts of military equipment, including Denmark and Romania. NATO members have contributed nearly 30,000 weapons and millions of rounds of ammunition. A delivery of 77 Hungarian tanks was completed in 2006, and Greece, Norway, and Luxembourg have provided financial assistance. Greece has also delivered 64 armoured personnel carriers to Iraqi authorities.
66. The elections in Iraq demonstrated that the insurgency has limited popular support. More than 10 million Iraqis voted in the last election in an act of defiance against the insurgents, who did everything possible to discourage participation in the electoral process. The insurgents' attacks are now often aimed at civilian targets, particularly Shia mosques and population centres. As of the time of this report, the Shia majority, who have been suffering the bulk of those attacks, has for the most part resisted engaging in revengeful acts of violence on the Sunni. There is no guarantee, however, that this tolerance will last indefinitely. If the insurgents are able to provoke the Shia majority into a violent reaction, the result could be a civil war that would split the country.
67. Obviously, the best way to avoid this scenario is to end the insurgency. This is mainly a political process, but there is a strong military role to be played by the emerging Iraqi security forces. To be successful, those forces will have to be multi-ethnic, well disciplined and trained, and respectful of human and civil rights. Such forces will not simply spring forth from Iraqi society after the decades of brutality inflicted on the Iraqi population by the previous regime. They must be created and nurtured by professional Western militaries that embody the values of the democratic societies they serve. It is more than a matter of tactical training and ensuring competency with weapons and other systems. Some involved in the NATO training mission note the debilitating effects of three decades of totalitarian rule on the military. Personal initiative was systematically rooted out as it could only have dangerous consequences for any individual. The resulting passivity is debilitating to society in general, but it poses particular challenges for those attempting to build a modern officer corps in Iraq. We will need to ensure that the new Iraqi security forces maintain close contacts with Western militaries so that they absorb the culture and values of professional militaries subservient to democratically elected leaders. This is a long-term process, but it is vitally important to building an Iraqi military that can halt the insurgency without triggering a cycle of violence that will divide the country.
68. Given the importance of the mission to the overall future of Iraq, it is worth considering what more can be done within the current political context. One possibility would be to extend the training mission into the field along the lines of the Military Training Teams (MTT) model currently being used with some success by US forces in Iraq. Under this model, US soldiers are embedded in Iraqi units where they assist and advise in a variety of areas, but this takes military education out of the classroom and into the field where more valuable lessons are often learned. Taking this step would no doubt expose troops to additional dangers, but it would help forge bonds between European militaries and that of Iraq in a way that could only strengthen its long-term development.
69. Since 2003 the government of Sudan has confronted an insurgency in Darfur with brutal force. The roots of the conflict between the region's African tribes and the Arab leadership in Khartoum stretches back for centuries, but the latest spate of violence is extreme by any measurement. The government has armed local Arab militias (Janjaweed) to assist government forces in suppressing the insurgency and they have practiced a campaign of mass murder, rape and other atrocities. Since the outbreak of conflict between 200,000 and 300,000 people have died while another 2 million - one-third of the local population - have been displaced. A humanitarian ceasefire signed on 8 April 2004 has been systematically violated.
70. The African Union (AU) resolved to monitor the ceasefire, but the initial AU presence was inadequate. The first force of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), deployed in June 2004, consisted of some 60-80 monitors and a protection force of approximately 300 troops to cover an area the size of France. The AU mandate, however, was only to monitor the ceasefire, not to perform a robust peacekeeping mission, and the continuing violence and the inability of AMIS to have much of an effect led to a reconsideration of the mission, with the UN playing a lead role. A UN planning cell helped draft the concept of operations for AMIS 2, calling for a more robust force in the region. As a result, the AU increased its mission to deploy eight additional battalions and 1,500 civilian police, bringing the total number of troops to over 7,000 by 30 September 2005.
71. Despite the presence of the AU force and outside assistance, the security situation continued to deteriorate. The AU agreed in March 2006 to turn its mandate over to the UN at the end of September if a new peace agreement was signed. On 5 May 2006 the government of Sudan and the largest rebel faction did sign a peace agreement, and the Sudanese government, in return for an end to the insurgency, promised to disarm the Janjaweed militias, incorporate rebel soldiers into the Sudanese army, and provide more funds for the Darfur region. On 16 May 2006 the UN Security Council voted unanimously to endorse the AU's plan to replace AMIS with a UN force, operating under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.
72. The government of Sudan, however, rejected this resolution, and proposed its own plan to the Security Council in August, which called for use of over 20,000 of its own troops. The UN Security Council then passed Resolution 1706 on 31 August 2006, which authorized the expansion of the current UN Mission in Sudan. That force of some 20,000 should begin to deploy to Darfur by 1 October 2006 and should be fully deployed no later than 31 December 2006. Those troops are authorized to monitor the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, and to use force to protect themselves and the civilian population.
73. The government of Sudan rejected this resolution as well and vowed to fight any UN force on its territory. On 28 August 2006 the Sudanese army began a large military campaign to rid Darfur of the remaining rebel groups and announced that AU soldiers must leave the country when their mandate expires on 30 September. Sudan later decided to allow the AU force to remain until the end of 2006.
74. NATO has offered assistance to the AU to help it implement its mandate. On 26 April 2005, the AU asked NATO to provide logistical support for its operation in Darfur. The NAC tasked the alliance's military authorities to provide advice on possible assistance that NATO could offer to the AU in "full consultation and complementarity with the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations." On 9 June 2005, the NAC announced its decision to support AMIS with transport, logistics, intelligence and training.
75. The first NATO airlifts began on 1 July 2005. In November 2005, the Council agreed to continue to offer support to the AU for the co-ordination of strategic airlift during further troop rotations of the peacekeeping forces, as well as additional staff capacity building to add to the military skills of the AU's forces. NATO agreed in May 2006 to extend its support through the end of the AU mandate in September.
76. NATO officials have strongly emphasized that assistance to the AU is driven by the requests of the AU. AU leaders have been particularly concerned about retaining a lead role in Darfur and see AMIS as a sign that Africa can be responsible for its own security problems. NATO has kept a relatively low profile out of respect for this concern, and indeed it is in NATO member countries' interest that the AU develops the capability to cope with regional security issues. Therefore, a mission focused on assistance and training without a large NATO force being placed on the ground seems appropriate from both political and strategic standpoints.
77. To date NATO has transported seven battalions of peacekeepers (about 4000 troops, including 49 civilian police) from Nigeria, Gambia, Rwanda and Senegal into Darfur. The co-ordination of the airlift is done from SHAPE, while a special AU air movement cell at the African University in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is co-coordinating the movement of incoming troops on the ground in Africa. NATO provides staff to support the air movement cell.
78. The EU has an established role in Darfur as well. It financed and facilitated the talks that led to the April 2004 cease-fire and to a subsequent May 2004 agreement on a monitoring mechanism. An EU officer participated in the AU-led reconnaissance mission to Darfur and ten EU observers were deployed to observe the cease-fire. Two EU staff were assigned to the AU headquarters to assist with the logistical arrangements for the observer mission and its protection force. In response to the AU request for logistics support in April 2005, the EU proposed a 'consolidated package' in support of AMIS 2. The most far-reaching and comprehensive component of the EU package relates to strengthening the civilian policing aspects of the mission. In July the EU pledged more funding to ensure the AMIS force could operate through the end of its mandate.
79. At the International Donors Conference in Addis Ababa in May 2005 both NATO and the EU expressed a commitment to full co-operation in the area of military assistance. In practice, however, the mission in Darfur represents the first time that NATO and the EU have operated side-by-side outside of the Berlin-plus framework, and co-ordinating assistance has been a complex and politically tense process.
80. There was some discussion over whether NATO and EU efforts could be managed jointly, but no agreement on a joint chain of command or common planning centre could be reached. As a result, NATO and EU efforts are planned and implemented separately, with two different chains of command. National attitudes towards the strategic role of the respective organizations have directed their contributions to the NATO and the EU operations. France, for example, sees the EU as the appropriate institution for this mission and its airlift capacity therefore operates through the EU command. NATO members who are not part of the EU, such as the United States and Canada, are providing airlift and transportation assistance through NATO. But most members of the Alliance are members of the EU as well, and the lack of joint management of the operation has led to some duplication and confusion. The UK airlift contribution is run both through NATO and the EU. This is complicated by the fact that the NATO airlift effort is planned at SHAPE while the EU's effort is co-ordinated from the Strategic Airlift Co-ordination Centre (SALCC) in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Italy, meanwhile, has offered airlift support through NATO, while making operational and logistics planners available through the EU.
81. The mission in Darfur raises many questions that members of parliament should consider, but chief among them is the issue of institutional co-operation and co-ordination between NATO and the EU. Clearly the entire effort would benefit from more coherence between the two main providers of assistance in the region. However, doing so requires the resolution of questions about the respective roles of the EU and NATO. Some NATO member countries argue that NATO should not allow itself to be distracted by any and every crisis in the world and focus on its core strengths as a military alliance. The EU is said to be better organized for missions such as the one in Darfur because it has deployable police and other civilian capabilities more suited to the mission, but this line of argument ignores the fact that NATO has already become, in the words of one high-ranking NATO official, a "global security agency." Its missions and partnerships extend far beyond the Euro-Atlantic area as a recognition of the fact that our mutual security depends on taking action in areas well outside NATO's traditional remit. In addition, despite the EU's civilian capabilities, it would be hard-pressed to maintain a sustained presence in the region without NATO assistance; a considerable amount of the strategic airlift being used for the mission is North American. Given the magnitude of the crisis in Darfur, it makes little sense to "fence-off" Africa from NATO.
82. Another more general issue is the role of NATO in future similar situations. We could consider a more institutionalised process of training and assistance for the AU. This would allow African countries, with logistical and other assistance from NATO, to take the lead in minimizing the devastating conflicts that plague the region. This could be a lengthy and costly process, but ultimately it is in our collective interest to support an AU that can be a more effective and independent provider of security.
83. In addition to its ongoing military operations, NATO has recently taken on several humanitarian operations. The Organization assisted in the relief effort following the devastation along the southern coast of the United States by Hurricane Katrina which struck on 29 August 2005. On 4 September 2005, the United States requested relief support from NATO. The Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Co-ordination Centre (EADRCC) co-ordinated the 39 responses to this request by Allies and NATO partners. On 9 September, the North Atlantic Council (NAC) approved a NATO transport operation to help move donations from Europe to the United States. The NAC decided to commit the NATO Response Force (NRF) and the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force (NAEW&CF) to the relief effort, and approved the use of transport aircraft and roll on, roll off vessels to deliver the aid. NATO established an airbridge between Ramstein Air Base in Germany and Little Rock, Arkansas, to deliver aid from Alliance member nations. From 12 September to 2 October 2005, twelve NATO flights delivered almost 189 tons of relief goods. The operation was commanded by SHAPE, through the NRF Headquarters in Lisbon, and the NATO Air Movement Centre, and was completed on 2 October 2005.
84. NATO engaged in a much larger and more difficult humanitarian operation when it responded to the earthquake in Pakistan that destroyed cities and towns across the Kashmir region. On 10 October 2005, NATO received a request from Pakistan for assistance in dealing with the aftermath of the devastating 8 October earthquake. The NAC immediately approved a major air operation to bring supplies from NATO and Partner countries to the country. NATO's short-term relief mission expanded throughout October and early November in response to additional requests from the government of Pakistan. The mission developed on the basis of five elements:
85. The NRF operation consisted of a Deployable Joint Task Force (DJTF), also known as the NATO Disaster Relief Team (NDRT), which was deployed to Pakistan on 24 October. This was made up of Joint Command Lisbon personnel, augmented by staff from SHAPE and was led by Air Commodore Walton (UK). This Headquarters co-ordinated and directed NATO's operations in Pakistan.
86. The NATO Land Component in Pakistan was led by the Spanish and headquartered in Arja while the NATO Air Component in Pakistan came from the French Air Defence and Operation Command.
87. NATO airlift flew 3,5, 00 tons of aid to Pakistan with some 170 flights, while NATO helicopters transported more than 1, 750 tons of relief goods to remote mountain villages and evacuated 7, 650 disaster victims. The field hospital staffed by NRF medical personnel treated approximately 4, 890 patients while the mobile medical units treated some 3, 424 patients in remote mountain villages. In the cities of Arja and Bagh, NATO engineers upgraded a permanent spring water distribution storage system to serve up to 8, 400 persons per day. In addition to this, a crucial aviation fuel farm was established in Abbottabad that carried out some 1000 re-fuellings for civilian and military helicopters.
88. The NRF is clearly capable of performing disaster relief and humanitarian operations. Some question, however, the use of the NRF for such operations. Although it was conceived of as a high intensity strike force, the original plan, outlined at the Prague summit in 2002, also included other potential uses, such as disaster relief. The fact that it is a rapid response force is especially attractive in situations where immediate action is needed to prevent humanitarian disasters in the wake of a natural catastrophe. The NRF also includes deployable medical, engineering and transport capabilities, all of which are vital in disaster relief operations.
89. But it is one thing to use NATO assets for a brief airlift operation; it is quite another to deploy the NRF and associated forces for several months in a remote location. This means that the force will not be available on short notice for security crises. In addition, some question whether it is the role of NATO to perform such operations, and what the criteria should be for deciding when and how NATO will intervene in humanitarian emergencies.
90. Perhaps the way to resolve those questions is to start from a consideration of what value NATO's involvement adds in disaster relief. Its unique capability that is relevant to humanitarian emergencies is its ability to co-ordinate the transport of large amounts of relief supplies and personnel to difficult locations on short notice. If NATO decides that this will be the extent of its involvement in humanitarian relief, then the concerns over long deployments of the NRF should be mostly answered. This narrows the focus more on disaster relief than more long-term humanitarian assistance missions.
91. To some extent NATO has already considered how and when it will take on humanitarian operations. For both operations, as a reaction to Katrina and the Pakistan earthquake, the response package was tailored to the needs of the situation, given the capabilities of the nations requesting assistance and the ability of other international organizations to respond effectively. NATO staff conducted an internal assessment of what it could contribute to the Katrina relief operation and presented it to the NAC. It was a bottom-up approach that ensured that the political commitments could be met.
92. The Deployment of the NRF to Pakistan also adds some urgency to the discussion over common funding of operations. Spain spent approximately 14 million Euros on the deployment. This is a result of the funding principle that each contributor pays the costs of deploying its forces for a NATO operation. Although this formula has worked in the past, it will be increasingly problematic because of the nature of the NRF. The NRF is composed of forces from the member countries on a rotating basis, but it will be deployed based on a decision taken by all 26 Allies. However, the costs for this decision will fall almost entirely on the Allies currently participating in NRF. The Secretary General of NATO described the current funding plan as something of a "reverse lottery", where you lose if your number is drawn. This is simply not a fair system, and it will tend to discourage participation in the NRF.
93. This brief survey of certain NATO operations gives some idea of the breadth and depth of the missions that the Alliance has undertaken. NATO is currently, or has in the past year, conducted missions on four continents with a range of partners that go far beyond the borders of the Euro-Atlantic area. It is becoming, in the words of one NATO official who met with the Committee, a "global security agency." As parliamentarians, we must discuss and arrive at some consensus as to what we envision as the role of NATO in an era of global security challenges. Clearly it should not be seen as the world's policeman, but we cannot ignore the demand for ever greater NATO involvement in global security issues, from the UN and regional security organizations.
94. There will be no shortage of crises that could demand NATO's attention. Darfur and other situations in Africa could pull NATO in that direction. Afghanistan is a long-term commitment. Humanitarian relief operations will undoubtedly arise from time to time. Kosovo, although relatively quiet, still demands our attention and a considerable military presence. On top of existing missions, some have called for a NATO peace enforcement operation in South Lebanon. If NATO as an organization, or its members as individual states, were to become involved in that situation, it could also extract considerable attention and resources that could be devoted to other missions.
95. In the simplest terms, the number of crises and potential missions for NATO can far exceed its capabilities and resources at any one time. We will have to choose carefully. If we do not, we risk being left in a situation where we trade effectiveness and depth for breadth. That would weaken NATO and the credibility of its commitments.
96. What lessons can be learned from this diverse range of missions that NATO has undertaken? Perhaps the most important lesson is that we need to do all we can to improve our capabilities to act in whatever circumstances are deemed appropriate, regardless of the exact mission. In large part this revolves around the perennial issue of funding. Most members' defence budgets are below the 2% baseline and SACEUR General James Jones has warned of an impending "trainwreck" if this situation does not improve, but even if it is not possible to spend more, surely it is possible to spend more wisely. We can choose to gradually shift funds from personnel expenditures that often account for the majority of defence expenditures to operations and procurement. We can also commit ourselves to seeking more commonly-funded solutions. The members of NATO recently agreed to jointly purchase several large aircraft that would go a long way to solving the constant shortage of strategic airlift. This is a notable step in the right direction, but we should consider other ways of pooling resources and assets to both save on expenditures across the board and increase overall deployability.
97. Another lesson is that we must improve our public communication. We cannot sustain our large presence in Afghanistan for long if public support fades for a lack of understanding of the mission or its long-term nature. As the elected representatives of our respective publics, we have a particular responsibility to communicate the realities of the situation to the people. Military commanders in Afghanistan have repeatedly explained to us that it is not a peacekeeping mission; it is a mission that involves combat, reconstruction, military instruction, demining and a range of other tasks, all of which may be performed nearly simultaneously in the same region, but the critical factor is providing security, which means eliminating the threat posed by extremist elements located primarily in the south and east of the country. It will do little good to build schools, for example, without eliminating the insurgents that would burn the schools and kill the teachers. This is in part a combat mission and it will tragically lead to the loss of some of our soldiers. To be able to accept this, our publics need to understand the mission and its importance. Otherwise we risk losing the necessary public support to maintain the required military presence over the coming months and years.
98. At the same time we also need to find ways to better integrate military and civilian capabilities into NATO operations. The mission in Afghanistan and the effort to assist the AU in Sudan both show how many missions involve a range of capabilities including military, paramilitary and civilian. If NATO expects to take on more stabilization missions in the future, we will need to develop better mechanisms for co-operating and co-ordinating with other international actors. In some ways it can be seen as a key component of the transformation of NATO into a more effective actor in the current security environment. Military operations are a necessary but insufficient element of a stabilization and reconstruction effort and we must have closer co-ordination and co-operation with other international actors performing those critical tasks outside the traditional NATO remit.
99. A third lesson is that we need to find ways to improve interoperability and defence industrial co-operation. A military alliance cannot function at peak efficiency if its composite elements use incompatible systems, or cannot communicate with one another. The alliance increasingly runs the risk of becoming hobbled by a lack of interoperable systems, and as parliamentarians we have a responsibility to take action to remove barriers to co-operation. This is not an easy task: improving interoperability requires more transatlantic defence research and development and more open competition for defence acquisitions. Both of those are sensitive political issues involving commercial and security-related concerns. An honest assessment of the situation can only come to the conclusion that there are barriers on both sides of the Atlantic that must be reduced if we are to improve interoperability.
100. A final lesson is that we need to be open about what we will and will not do in any particular mission. National caveats are a continual drain on the effectiveness of the Alliance, but keeping those restrictions hidden from view is even more debilitating. Members have a right to place conditions on the use of their forces, but NATO is diminished as an organization when we do not reveal those restrictions to other members participating in the same mission. By all accounts, the expansion of NATO into southern Afghanistan is unencumbered by national caveats, but this should be the rule rather than the exception.