174 PC 06 E - AFGHANISTAN AND THE FUTURE OF THE ALLIANCE
BERT KOENDERS (NETHERLANDS)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. As we approach the Summit of NATO Heads of State and Government in Riga in November this year, the persistent question of "whither NATO" is raised by policy makers and pundits alike. There is no shortage of ideas, ranging from the conventional to the more visionary. Among the latter certainly feature former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's suggestion to re-invent NATO so that it can address militant Islamism and include democratic nations such as Australia, Japan and Israel into the Alliance. In contrast, Christoph Bertram, Former Director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, is proposing that NATO is no longer suited for or required to fight conventional wars but should instead focus on stabilisation operations. This report will not jump into the fray to suggest a re-invention of the Alliance. As we discussed in earlier Reports, we call for a more political NATO. The NATO PA will have its own input during the Riga Summit. Your Rapporteur firmly believes that the ongoing operation in Afghanistan is both a test bed for NATO's transformation processes and a way to generate guidance for necessary adjustments in the way the Alliance is doing business.
2. Allied operations in Afghanistan are the first test of NATO outside Europe. The country, which became a breeding ground for internationally active terrorist groups, is important to the security of the Alliance. Afghanistan is the most important theatre of operations, is the litmus test for NATO. The Alliance has staked its credibility on the outcome of this mission. Therefore, NATO's success or possible failure will heavily impact its military and political cohesion.
3. As a delegation of the Political and Defence and Security Committees learned during a visit this May, NATO has shown its military prowess in Afghanistan. Much has been accomplished, but a tremendous amount remains to be done before Afghanistan can stand on its own. The first elements of a democratic state are in place and becoming stronger, but the central government has limited control over large parts of the south and east of the country. This report suggests that NATO must address its shortcomings and member states must follow up on what they promised. Today's complex security challenges demand more, not less, NATO. The operation is in a very difficult stage. We need to agree more on our priorities as well as on our level of ambition. We need to utilize military, political, economic, and other instruments in a well-coordinated manner. We need to agree where the limits are of what the Alliance can do. Finally, the Allies must discuss when, where, how, and with whom to intervene and not shy away from the formulation of political goals related to a responsible exit-strategy.
4. Afghanistan has been hailed as a success story and is frequently compared favourably with Iraq, where security is much worse. However, some of the initial accomplishments here are being overshadowed by a number of serious setbacks. After a period of relative calm during the first few years that followed the removal of the Taliban, the overall security situation has deteriorated significantly. Insurgents' attacks in the southern and eastern regions that border Pakistan led this summer to be the bloodiest since the fall of the Taliban. Moreover, terrorist activities, including suicide bombings which were previously unseen in Afghanistan, have increased significantly. Police reform has been inadequate, and judicial reform has seen only slow progress.
5. There are also some positive developments, and achievements have been made in Afghanistan. The build-up of the Afghan National Army (ANA) appears to have made good progress. The currently around 35,000 personnel are well-trained and have already participated in operations alongside international coalition troops. If the present build-up rate continues, the target date for the ANA to achieve its full strength of five corps with a total of 70,000 troops in 2009, is feasible.
6. The historic parliamentary elections have been the culmination of the Bonn process and reflect a remarkable transformation of Afghanistan's political landscape. Afghanistan has one of the best parliamentary systems in the region and this parliament's recent approval of a new Chief of Justice and eight other members of the Supreme Court could mark a further step on the road to long-term stability and a democratic society. The inauguration of Afghanistan's National Assembly in December 2005 marked the symbolic end of the institution-creating process outlined in the 2001 Bonn agreement. The "Afghanistan Compact", that was forged at the London conference early this year, now provides the framework for the country's future development. The Compact is based on four pillars: security; governance, rule-of-law, and human rights; economic and social development; and counter-narcotics. Implementation of the Afghanistan Compact will put the country and its international partners to the test.
7. Despite the assistance provided by the international community, Afghanistan remains a fragile state. The lack of security and the weakness of Afghanistan's government institutions, particularly in remote regions, continue to be major problems. Endemic corruption and the weak economic infrastructure hamper further progress. Last year's government revenue totalled about US$330 million, covering less than 50% of its expenses. The country is one of the world's poorest, on a par with some in sub-Saharan Africa. Since the overthrow of the Taliban five years ago, most Afghans have seen little change in their lives, making it easier for resurgent Taliban to recruit. According to the SENLIS Council, an international policy think tank, a humanitarian crisis of starvation and poverty has gripped the south of the country. Failure to bring security or services to rural regions, particularly in the south, has generated deep disappointment among Afghans. Confidence in President Hamid Karzai's government is now at an all-time low. While the Afghan President has managed to 'neutralise' many warlords by co-opting and sidelining them, he is also partly to blame for oversight, reform delays and failure to develop responsible government. This is particularly the case in the provinces, where progress is extremely slow. Moreover, ethnicity remains an important issue in Afghanistan, with the main historical divide between Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns. The Karzai government will have to do much more to reach out to these regions.
8. The production and trafficking of opium and its derivatives continue to be the major challenge to Afghanistan's political and economic development as well as a threat to regional stability. In 2005, drug cultivation and exports totalled an estimated US$2,7 billion, 52% of the country's GDP. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) 2006 Annual Opium Survey Afghanistan's opium harvest this year will reach around 6,100 tons, a record high representing an increase of 59% over the previous year. Thus, Afghanistan's 2006 harvest will be 92% of the total world supply. Around the country, the number of people involved in opium production increased by almost a third in 2006 to 2.9 million, representing 12.6% of the total population. Only six of the country's 34 provinces are opium-free. The latest UNODC figures on Afghan opium production show a clear link between security and opium production. Most of the production takes place in Helmand, which accounts for 42% of Afghanistan's opium poppy cultivation and where the security situation is one of the worst in the country. In contrast, cultivation fell in eight provinces, mainly in the more stable north.
9. The reduction of poverty cannot be separated from the combat against insurgency. The drug problem will not improve significantly unless there is improvement in the economy. Unfortunately, Afghanistan has very few comparative advantages, as William Cole, Senior Director of the Programme Development & Strategy Group of the Asia Foundation told members of the Sub-Committee on Transatlantic Relations during a visit to the US this year. Any viable long-term stabilisation of the country requires providing farmers who are relying on opium income with an alternative to growing poppy. The long-term approach to support the government in developing the expertise and in building the necessary capacity to become a viable state needs to be better co-ordinated. More international assistance will be necessary for many years. The Afghan government, not NATO, has the lead role in counter-narcotics. The UK, in its capacity as G-8 lead nation, has the lead in formulating an anti-drugs policy with the Afghan Government. The United States has also been involved, while UNODC primarily provides advisory and technical assistance in building the capacity for drug control in the Afghan government. As a delegation of the Political and Defence and Security Committee learned during a visit to Afghanistan in May, the Afghan government has promised help to farmers prepared to give up opium cultivation, a promise it has been unable to deliver thus far. Meanwhile, it has, nevertheless, pushed ahead with the destruction of poppy fields. As a result, farmers who voluntarily abandoned poppy production last year but have not yet received the promised compensation, have again turned to poppy cultivation. This further diminishes the credibility of the Afghan government and undermines the "hearts and minds" strategy of the Allies. The international community is yet to make sufficient funds available to cover the whole of Afghanistan and it must follow up on its promises. According to the SENLIS report, only about half of the financial aid pledged at the international aid conferences has actually been dispersed. There is an urgent need for a common policy on drugs, directed against drug mafia's and creating alternatives for farmers.
10. A part of the massive Afghan opium production/refining system is linked to Pakistan. Much of the crop is refined into heroin and morphine at drug laboratories inside Afghanistan and trafficked through neighbouring Pakistan. Pakistani traffickers in the remote and lawless Baluchistan and North West Frontier provinces provide financing to Afghan poppy farmers. More and better co-operation on the borders is necessary to overcome the serious problems of drug trafficking and insurgents. Pakistan's army has failed to deal with the rise of 'Talibanisation' in its tribal areas, and the government in Islamabad may not have the means to stop cross-border raids into Afghanistan. However, as CRS expert Alan Kronstadt told the Sub-Committee on Transatlantic Relations, there are also indications that 'some meaningful elements of the Pakistani military' are colluding with the Taliban. To tackle the problem of insurgency in Afghanistan, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has recently reached an agreement with a pro-Taliban group in Pakistan's tribal region that includes a cease-fire deal and calls for locals to stop sheltering Al-Qaeda and other foreign fighters. However, experts have expressed concern that terrorists could use the deal to gain time in order to regroup and gain strength. Your Rapporteur finds that a common foreign policy of NATO towards Pakistan is urgently called for. President Musharraf should be put under much greater pressure to counter Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) support for the Taliban.
11. NATO's engagement in the country is based on the request of the government of Afghanistan. ISAF, however, is a UN-mandated operation (United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1386, 1413, and 1510). Currently, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) consists of approximately 31,000 military personnel drawn from 26 NATO members and 11 NATO partners. In Stage 3 - at the end of July 2006 - ISAF expanded its presence, deploying an additional 9,000 troops to the six south-central Afghan provinces: Daikondi, Helmand, Kandahar, Nimroz, Oruzgan, and Zabul. Most of the reinforcements came from Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Between 1,400 and 1,600 Dutch forces are deployed in the Oruzgan province. Smaller contingents of Australian, Danish, Estonian and Romanian forces are also deployed there. In Stage 4 - at the beginning of October 2006 - 12,000 soldiers operating in eastern Afghanistan were placed under ISAF, Lt. Gen. David J. Richards. It extended the alliance's area of operations across all of Afghanistan including the eastern provinces. About 10,000 American troops remain under exclusive American control within the framework of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). The expansion of the ISAF into the South and East is critical to the ongoing stabilisation of Afghanistan. It is a crucial prerequisite for the country's long-term transformation in to a fully functioning nation-state.
12. ISAF's expansion across the country follows a revised Operational Plan that was endorsed by NATO Foreign Ministers in December 2005. The Plan addresses the tasks and challenges ISAF faces as it has expanded its area of operations to the south and to the east of the country. Command structures have been streamlined and currently there are three regional headquarters under the command of General Richards.
13. As General Richards and senior military commanders stressed to members of the Political and Defence and Security Committees, ISAF is a counter-insurgency operation that involves both stabilisation and reconstruction efforts as well as combat missions against opposing militant forces (OMF). ISAF is primarily designed to provide basic security and support the Afghan government in order to deepen its hold in the areas where it operates the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). ISAF's expansion to the South and the East has brought it into direct contact with Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). OEF is the US-led counter-terrorist operation, which is more narrowly defined as it is primarily tasked to kill or capture particular high-value Al-Qaeda terrorists operating in the region. OEF has been criticised by governments and human rights organisations; its detention policy (Bagram; Gunatanamo Bay) is under scrutiny.
14. Thus far, the co-operation between OEF and ISAF seems to be going well, as operations in Uruzgan have shown. The US general commanding approximately 10,000 coalition forces of OEF in the east and the south of Afghanistan is also ISAF's deputy commander. He is responsible for the co-ordination between ISAF and OEF. The deconflicting arrangements between the two missions remain crucial for the success of the overall mission in Afghanistan.
15. The challenge is to carry out security operations and to win the hearts and minds of people at the same time. General Richards told PC and DSC members that the Taliban cannot win militarily. Operations "Medusa" and "Turtle" have shown NATO's military prowess. Even though Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf recently described the Taliban as a "greater threat than Al-Qaeda," the biggest worry is not the Taliban but the degree of co-operation of the population with the Taliban. The gap between the government and the people is widening. The policy of NATO is therefore never "shoot to kill" but to balance offensive security operations with reconstruction on the ground.
16. The PRTs are at the leading edge of NATO's stabilisation efforts in Afghanistan. The PRT concept, is basically both to provide improved security and to facilitate reconstruction and economic development throughout the country. Focusing on quick impact projects, i.e., building critical infrastructure like water wells, schools and the like, PRTs link security with concrete development progress. But there is no single, standardised concept for the PRTs and all operate to different guidelines and criteria. Some have very restrictive rules of engagement and do not go out of their base overnight while others take a much more robust view of extending security throughout the province. To strengthen coherence but also to increase the efficiency among PRTs, NATO should develop at least minimally agreed standards for military-civilian co-operation. This could also improve further co-operation with NATO Partners.
17. At present, NATO and partner-countries command 24 PRTs in the North, West, South, and East of Afghanistan1. However, despite major pledges of financial support by the international community and NATO's promise to extend security through the expansion of the PRTs, progress on the ground has been slow. The long-term impact of PRTs in terms of development in Afghanistan and its reconstruction is still difficult to assess. A serious and continuing problem is the lack of co-operation between foreign humanitarian agencies, NGOs, and private security companies which has created a situation "close to anarchy" in the area of reconstruction, according to General Richards2. Co-operation is necessary, but also a clear delineation of responsibilities is crucial for the functioning of civilian aid organizations.
18. NATO's role is absolutely crucial for the security and stability of Afghanistan; its presence is part and parcel of the international community's engagement since 2001. As it faces enormous security challenges and struggles to rebuild its shattered society, Afghanistan needs continued and even increased NATO involvement. The country needs more training and equipment, including helicopters and aircraft, to bolster up its security forces. That said, the dilemma is that we need to build up security forces that Afghanistan would be incapable of sustaining. An ANA composed of a professional, highly trained force of 70,000 is significantly more than Afghanistan can afford. In recognition of Afghanistan's continuing weakness and following Kabul's request to enter into an enduring relation with the Alliance, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed the "Declaration by NATO and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan" in early September this year. Complementing ISAF's operational role, the agreement sets out a framework for "enduring co-operation in partnership" that concentrates on defence reform, defence institution building and the military aspects of security sector reform, as well as on other areas such as promoting interoperability between the forces of the Afghan National Army and those of NATO members.
19. The United Nations (UN) provides the legal framework for the ongoing NATO mission in Afghanistan. ISAF was deployed under a mandate of the UNSC and NATO assumed command of ISAF in August 2003. UN Security Council Resolution 1510 opened the way to a wider role for ISAF to support the Government of Afghanistan beyond Kabul. Moreover, through the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) the UN is, together with the Afghan Administration, responsible for the co-ordination of all humanitarian, relief, recovery and reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.
20. Established by UN Security Council resolution 1401 in March 2002, UNAMA's mandate includes promoting national reconciliation and fulfilling the tasks and responsibilities entrusted to the UN in the Bonn Agreement, including those related to human rights, the rule-of-law and gender issues. In late March 2006 UNAMA's mandate was extended by another 12 months.
21. There are 19 UN agencies in the country working together with their Afghan government counterparts and with national and international NGO partners. An important role is played by the UNODC which, together with the Afghan government, runs an opium monitoring system and conducts annual opium surveys in Afghanistan. UNODC's Afghanistan office has twelve drug control projects and three criminal justice projects, but none of these programmes co-operate with NATO directly. ISAF works closely with the UN and the Afghan government in support of the Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration (DDR) process and the Heavy Weapons Cantonment Programme. Disarmament has been quite successful and all known heavy weapons have been collected and are now under central government control. It is now essential that the UN starts working in the east and south of the nation to make reconstruction in those parts a success.
22. The European Union (EU) has been a major contributor to Afghanistan since the Taliban's fall in 2001. At the 2002 Tokyo, 2004 Berlin and 2006 London donor conferences the EU and its member states pledged nearly one third of the offered assistance. The European Commission (EC) oversees an annual budget of some €200 million in development aid for Afghanistan. The EU also has a Special Representative (EUSR) in residence, who operates on a six month mandate and reports on a weekly basis to the EU's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CSFP) Javier Solana and all EU member governments. The European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) is also active on the ground. In addition, EU-member states run development projects on a bilateral basis.
23. While the scale of the EU's commitments to the country may not be fully appreciated, the complexity of EU foreign policy structures have limited the effectiveness of its assistance. A December 2005 report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) has argued that development funds are too often used in place of collective political and military action. Therefore, the report suggests that the EU should adopt a more cohesive policy and effective action by, for example, agreeing both within itself and with the Afghan administration on common benchmarks and monitoring mechanisms. The ICG report also suggested that the EU should develop greater institutional linkages with NATO and become more involved in the direction of the PRTs. The latter has been addressed, albeit only meekly. In early 2006, the EC earmarked €10 million over three years to help finance the civilian parts of the PRTs in which EU member countries are involved. This is a welcome signal, but at the time of writing no money has been forthcoming, and your Rapporteur calls on the EC to implement this policy. While the EU is playing more of a development and assistance role, there is no co-operation between the NATO and the EU headquarters on Afghan security. There is, however, some co-operation between ISAF and the EU on the ground in the Policy Action Group and the PRT Executive Steering Group in Afghanistan. Overall your Rapporteur finds that NATO and the UN/EU are not working sufficiently together in the difficult and risky areas. The NATO-council should address this situation as a matter of urgency
24. Finally, it would advance the security and stability in Afghanistan if NATO were able to involve Muslim countries more actively in Afghanistan. As they share the same faith, Muslim countries and societies can have a closer interaction with the Afghan society. In this context, it would be worthwhile to consider co-opting Muslim organisations, including in particular the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), to reach out to the Afghan people. Such a co-operation could help to reach out to the Afghan society and encourage it to participate more actively in the reconstruction of the country and to stop the bloodshed.
V. LESSONS LEARNED AND OPEN QUESTIONS
25. The reconstruction of the country is formally the responsibility of the Afghans and their government under President Hamid Karzai. But warlords still limit the powers of the central government, which remains weak, thereby preventing Afghanistan's shift away from an economy based on drugs and power. The millions of Afghans displaced in neighbouring countries will be unlikely to return without dramatic improvements in human security. In the meantime Afghanistan remains a focus for regional instability. NATO's role in the (re-)building of Afghanistan is essential because, as in any post-war scenario, economic and societal reconstruction and political reforms depend on a secure environment.
26. Achieving a secure environment that allows for reconstruction and development requires a stable, long-term consensus among the Allies on the political and military goals as well as the necessary means (both political and military). Forces deployed must operate under a robust mandate that allows quick adaptation to changing circumstances if necessary. Rules of engagement should provide a maximum of flexibility, allowing commanders to deal with the broadest spectrum of operations, from peacekeeping to counter-insurgency operations. We ignored the lessons of the rise of the Taliban in the mid-1990s in the initial stage of our Afghanistan commitment. Failing to take advantage of a sweeping desire among Afghans for help from outside, the US and its allies deployed only 8,000 American troops, primarily in a combat role, in early 2002. During the first 18 months after the invasion, the US-led coalition deployed no peacekeepers outside Kabul, leaving the security of provinces like Helmand to local Afghans. The military lessons are now being learned and applied, but at a much higher price with considerably less assurance of success. What might have been more easily accomplished in 2003 and 2004 is much more difficult now.
27. Consensus building over NATO's responsibilities has at times been a cumbersome, prolonged exercise. Moreover, the ad hoc manner in which ISAF has moved outside Kabul further highlights difficulties in force generation. Sometimes it simply was too little too late. Success or failure of operations often depends on the sufficient allocation of resources. Regrettably, NATO's operation in Afghanistan has revealed serious gaps between political rhetoric and actual commitment. Member countries have not always matched political commitments with necessary resources. Although NATO Allies unanimously agreed on a greater role for the Alliance, the allocation of troops and equipment dragged considerably. These shortcomings still continue today. During the May visit of the members of the Political and Defence and Security Committees, military and civilian officials repeatedly stressed the need to increase the commitment of resources to the mission. Military commanders consistently noted the lack of air transportation assets, which continues to significantly limit NATO forces' effectiveness in operations in Afghanistan. As General James Jones, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), acknowledged as recently as early September only 85% of the pledges made by member countries and the 11 supporting nations have actually arrived in Afghanistan. At the time of writing, some NATO allies, including France, Germany, Italy and Turkey, will not dispatch more forces to Afghanistan as they are contributing substantial troops to Lebanon. Poland has pledged to send 1,000 more soldiers later, to the east, but the promise falls short of NATO requests this week for 2,500 more troops immediately to form a reserve force that would be available to support combat operations, particularly in the south. In fact, the Polish troops had been expected as part of a routine rotation of NATO troops and will join 100 Polish soldiers already in eastern Afghanistan. At this point, no member country has heeded NATO's request for sending additional troops. This is clearly unacceptable!
28. Questions remain about the role of the Alliance in Afghanistan. Apart from the immediate threats posed by the insurgents, the greatest long-term challenge facing Afghanistan is probably that presented by the production of illicit drugs and the criminal networks that surround it. ISAF's mandate is to conduct "stability and security operations" in co-ordination with Afghan security forces. This includes, among others, supporting Afghan government programmes to "disarm illegally armed groups." According to the Afghanistan Compact, all militias have to be disbanded by 2008. But it is not clear whether ISAF is authorised to use force if such an approach is adopted by Kabul. NATO's role in poppy eradication continues to be questioned. NATO is obliged to support the Afghan government's anti-drug missions when requested by Kabul. But ISAF's role is limited and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has rejected the recent call by Antonio Maria Costa, the head of the UNODC, for "robust military action" by NATO forces to destroy the opium industry in southern Afghanistan. An effective Afghan counter-narcotics policy needs to focus on sanctioning drug barons, not farmers. To this end, any eradication programme needs to be targeted and conducted in conjunction with sustainable alternative livelihood programmes.
29. Afghanistan has also shown that NATO needs to improve the partnership with civil actors. During the visit of members of the Political and Defence and Security members to Afghanistan this May, the commander of ISAF, General David Richards underlined the importance of setting developmental priorities and creating a seamless web between security and development efforts. Security and development efforts are currently not sufficiently synchronised but they must become so to ensure lasting success. To a large degree, the problem lies with the approximately 2,500 NGOs that are currently engaged in Afghanistan. Regrettably, much of their activities focus more on perceived needs of Afghans than on the realities on the ground. To tackle the problem, General Richards strongly suggested providing more focus on the ongoing reconstruction: priority should be given to projects in the sectors of irrigation, roads and energy supply. As available resources are limited, the NATO Commander emphasised the need for an "ink spot" approach that would help spread security and development by controlling key villages. To achieve a more unified approach, the issue of co-ordination of efforts between the Government of Afghanistan, NATO and the international organisations on the one hand and the NGOs on the other would have to be addressed. Creation of a framework, for example by giving NGOs a place at the table of the Policy Action Groups, could enhance co-operation.
30. Improving interoperability among its forces remains crucially important for the success of NATO's current and future operations. While national caveats have been significantly reduced, they still impose limitations on the planning and execution of NATO operations. There is still concern that existing national caveats could have a debilitating effect on ISAF as it continues to expand its presence in Afghanistan. For example, some NATO member countries contributing to ISAF have restricted their participation to exclude combat operations. The majority of caveats relate to rules of engagement (i.e. peace keeping rather than war fighting) and geographical mobility. While British, Canadian and Dutch forces bear the brunt of the fighting in the South, some countries refuse to assist them at least temporarily by sending ISAF troops stationed in the North! It is an impossible situation that not only severely hampers NATO's operational capabilities but also undermines NATO's credibility. Your Rapporteur calls upon NATO member governments and parliaments to urgently review declared and undeclared caveats in order to remove or at the very least minimise their use in joint operations. We must eliminate the use of undeclared caveats and allow the restrictions on a national contingent to be taken into consideration during the force planning process.
31. Lack of consensus on how best to adapt funding for joint operations has also limited NATO's effectiveness in Afghanistan. We must improve our efficiency, particularly how we share resources and how we finance joint operations. NATO must urgently review the issue of common funding for operations. NATO member states have begun discussing new financing arrangements, but no decision has been reached. The principle of "costs lie where they fall" remains in place for most operations. This is problematic, particularly for operations of the NATO Response Force (NRF), the NATO's military transformation catalyst, because it leaves the entire financial burden of participating in NRF operations on the member countries that are on-call at the time of the deployment. Given the lack of key capabilities, especially in airlift, air-to-ground surveillance, and air-to-air refuelling, in a number of NATO member countries, nations that can provide these capabilities are likely to be asked to carry a disproportionate burden.
32. NATO's funding arrangements no longer make sense in an era in which NATO has more than 49,000 troops deployed on three continents. It is not only inefficient and unfair, it is a disincentive for nations to participate in the NRF and other on-call forces. If the Allies do not address this issue it will negatively affect NATO out-of-area operations in the future, thus undermining one of the key strategic purposes of the Alliance. We need to enhance common funding of operations, but this should be carefully balanced between nationally-funded items and those funded commonly by the Alliance. Contributions to common budgets must be seen as part of the overall burden-sharing assessment. Moreover, the Alliance should have its own air-to-ground surveillance and commonly operated airlift capabilities as well as more joint logistics. The "Strategic Airlift Interim Solution" (SALIM), that is, the recent agreement of 13 NATO member states to create a "NATO Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC)" based at the Ramstein US Air Force Base and to buy 4 large planes, is a positive first step in the right direction, but more is necessary.
33. In Afghanistan, as in the Balkans, the Partners are making a critical contribution to NATO-led operations. For example, 11 Partner countries are currently contributing to ISAF as well as to OEF. Sweden has recently assumed responsibility of the PRT in Mazar-e Sharif, while New Zealand is leading a PRT in Bamyan. NATO's Partnerships activities, particularly, the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme have been highly successful. Over the years, the Alliance has developed specific programmes of co-operation on defence reform, including in areas like combating trans-border crime, tightening border security, promoting civil-military relations, and the democratic control of the armed forces.
34. But the Partnerships have changed profoundly, particularly after the 1999 and 2002 enlargements. As of today, 26 of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council's (EAPC) member states are NATO member countries, and 20 are partner countries. Therefore, partnerships need to evolve further. NATO should make existing partnerships more effective and build new ones, especially with other democracies that share our values and are interested in co-operation with the Alliance. With regard to the former, NATO should consider allowing for greater differentiation, reflecting partner countries' different goals and capabilities. With regard to the latter NATO should aim to establish formal relationships with countries like Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Brazil and others.
35. The nature and complexity of today's post-conflict operations call for the broadest possible international collaboration. While NATO is capable of deploying powerful forces in large numbers, and commands the necessary military and security expertise, it cannot provide the critical economic, financial, legal and other assistance that is essential to the success of any nation-building operation. For these, and all other civil implementation, the Alliance depends upon other organisations, particularly the EU and the UN. Successful post-conflict operations require close co-operation with these organisations in order to have a seamless transition from combat operations to peace-enforcement and peacekeeping. This demands a clear delineation of tasks among participating actors. The efforts of participating organisations should complement and not compete against each other. Moreover, their mandates must be compatible to each others' and be mutually reinforcing.
36. The EU plays an increasingly important role in international security. While the EU is slowly developing military muscle, its fledgling military capabilities will remain limited in the foreseeable future. It is a welcome development that the EU is becoming a stronger security actor. But the EU must be a partner, not a competitor, of NATO. While the NATO-EU relationship has greatly improved over the years, further development of the relationship towards a more effective partnership continues to be slow and uneven. Progress has been achieved in staff-to-staff contacts between NATO's International Staff and the EU Council as well as, recently, the EU. On the ground in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Darfur, NATO-EU co-operation varies. However, at the political level, the stalemate on co-operation in the NAC is unacceptable.
37. Ad hoc co-ordination of efforts on the ground can by no means be a supplement for a necessary, and indeed long overdue, institutional co-operation between NATO and the EU. Therefore, it is necessary to conclude a more comprehensive framework agreement between NATO and the EU. NATO-EU relations should not only focus on the EU Council but also include the EC which holds important competences in areas where closer co-operation with NATO is highly desirable. Europe has a lot to offer in terms of technical expertise, reconstruction and development, and training.
38. Improvements in the EU's military and stabilisation capabilities are important in themselves. NATO-EU co-operation can and must be further strengthened in the realm of the EU's non-military capabilities, which the EU can bring to bear in crisis prevention and in post-conflict operations. In addition, if the EU becomes actively involved in other areas, for instance Security Sector Reform (SSR), it should draw upon NATO's expertise and resources. More reciprocity is called for. A framework agreement between NATO and the EU should provide the former with guaranteed access to EU capabilities in areas that are relevant for post-conflict operations. A more comprehensive NATO-EU framework agreement should also include an institutional relationship. Thus, the NATO Secretary General should have a seat at the meetings of the Political and Security Committee (PSC) which is the lynchpin of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy and the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). Likewise, the EU's High Representative for the CFSP and Secretary-General of the Council of the EU, Javier Solana, should be invited to NAC meetings on a permanent basis.
39. The other international actor with whom NATO should develop a closer institutional relationship is the UN. Despite its deficiencies, the UN remains the only institution suitable to provide global legitimacy. Any NATO-led operation should preferably be backed by the broadest possible support of the international community. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and other senior UN officials have informed the Political Committee during visits to the UN Headquarters that a growing UN-NATO relationship is highly appreciated. Indeed, the UN is already overstretched in its peacekeeping activities and is very interested in NATO's help. According to Centre on International Co-operation (CIC) at New York University, the number of troops deployed by the UN worldwide has nearly quintupled since 1999, from 12,700 to over 60,000 (with civilians and police, the number is over 85,000). Although your Rapporteur is sceptical that NATO member countries will be able to significantly increase their troop contributions to UN peacekeeping operations in the short term, NATO could add supplemental capabilities, especially in the areas of military planning and logistics, to UN operations.
40. Closer NATO-UN co-ordination, including a closer institutional relationship between the two, should be welcome. The NATO Reponse Force can be relevant in supporting complicated UN missions. A NATO-UN 'Joint Statement' was drafted in September 2005 which could provide a deeper and more structured relationship between the two organisations. It is currently under review at the UN Headquarters. A concrete practical step for NATO would be to expand its liaison office at the UN Headquarters in New York, which is currently staffed by only one person.
41. Given that today's, and tomorrow's security environment is no longer static or predictable, NATO's involvement in Afghanistan is a reflection on how profoundly the Alliance has changed. Alliance members today face a whole range of new and complex threats, including terrorism, WMD proliferation, failed states, and criminal networks trafficking in people, drugs and weapons. Therefore, a static, reactive approach to security is no longer sufficient. In fact, NATO is in the midst of a both physical and philosophical transformation that has already resulted in a more proactive alliance that is operating beyond its traditional borders to prevent crisis and conflict.
42. As we continue our adaptation, the Alliance has taken on responsibilities that were unthinkable 15 years ago. We recognise that so-called 'soft' security issues can pose very real 'hard' challenges. We recognise that coping with the aftermath of war and internal conflict is far more daunting than taking measures early to prevent the outbreak of conflict. Therefore, we agree that we must accord a far higher priority than in the past to conflict prevention. Afghanistan has taught us that 'failing states' in far-away regions require our attention.
43. Consequently the spectrum of Alliance operations has dramatically increased over the last few years, ranging from military operations to peace-supporting measures, training, transport and advisory measures and now operations following natural disasters and the protection of major sporting events. For example, NATO provided relief aid over an extended period of time to the victims of Pakistan's October 2005 earthquake. Moreover, the NRF's maritime component assisted in the relief effort following Hurricane Katrina which struck the southern US in August last year. Earlier, parts of the NRF were deployed to provide security for the Afghan elections. The NRF is one of the most successful aspects of NATO's transformation. Thus far NRF operations have been very successful, but your Rapporteur would caution that we should not "over use" the NRF for missions for which it is not designed in the first place. Although the NRF has also been designed to assist in disaster relief efforts, its primary purpose is a high-intensity, 'first-entry' strike force. NRF's extended use for humanitarian and disaster relief operations would incur the risk that it would not be available when most needed, i.e. in an acute crisis.
44. If the Alliance is becoming more involved in a new set of operations, what does this mean for its priorities, structures and capabilities? The White Book of the German Defence Ministry has identified the goal to create 30,000 troops capable of high intensity warfare and 60,000 troops for stabilisation missions. Do we need to equip NATO with a stabilisation and reconstruction capability of its own or should we leave this to the EU? We need to address the question of which role the Alliance should have in humanitarian and disaster relief operations and perhaps in homeland security. Moreover, as we recognise the importance of securing our energy supplies, do we need to protect our energy infrastructure? As we are dependent on the free energy supply to our economies, how do we prevent NATO member countries from being blackmailed?
45. Therefore, the Alliance needs to complement its ongoing military transformation by a profound political transformation. To that end, NATO's political dialogue must be expanded. The goal must be to further improve policy co-ordination among the Allies, as well as with Partners and International Organisations, particularly the EU and the UN. The Allies must be able to discuss any issue that is relevant for the security of the Alliance, even if it is not a NATO issue. We need to discuss and develop common approaches to security challenges, such as how we tackle Iran. Iran is a direct neighbour of Afghanistan and has, at times, been helpful in stabilising the country. Tehran has a self-interest in a stable Afghanistan. However, Iran's nuclear programme and its links with terrorist groups are major issues of concern not only for the Alliance but for the international community as a whole.
46. Similarly, stabilisation of Afghanistan requires close co-operation with its neighbours, including the Central Asian Republics but particularly with Pakistan. Regrettably, there is only limited co-operation between the governments in Kabul and Islamabad and their bilateral relations are characterised more by suspicion rather than trust. Pakistan is both a solution and a hindrance to the stability of Afghanistan. The country has become a refuge for remnants of the Taliban as well as Islamist radicals from other regions, including Chechnya and Central Asia. Afghan government officials have accused Pakistan of not doing enough to try and catch the Taliban and Al-Qaeda remnants in Waziristan - an accusation that Pakistan denies. President Karzai and others charge that Taliban commanders are headquartered in the Pakistani city of Quetta from where they command attacks inside Afghanistan. In contrast, President Pervez Musharraf argues that the continuing presence in Pakistan of over 3 million Afghan refugees, some of them sympathetic to the Taliban, are compounding the problems along the bordering regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Co-operation with Pakistan is of vital importance for preventing Taliban fighters from taking refuge in the tribal areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the Taliban recruits and trains new fighters. An estimated 40% of Taliban fighters find refuge in Pakistan. Despite their success, NATO's recent operations in the South are "like trying to mop with the tap still open", according to Colonel Arie Vermeij, Deputy-commander at the Regional Multinational Headquarters South.
47. As the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US military, General Peter Pace told the Sub-Committee on Transatlantic Relations, a first step to improve the co-operation with the Pakistan government could be to have an open dialogue. Others have suggested offering 'conditioned aid' in order to obtain better co-operation from Pakistan. Your Rapporteur reiterates the need for stronger aid.
48. NATO's political transformation demands that the Alliance no longer thinks only regionally but indeed globally. Therefore, NATO must be able to discuss all issues that have an effect on the security of its member states. The list of topics for consultations could, in the view of your Rapporteur, include issues such as Iran, Iraq, Congo and energy security, among others. But more important is to tackle the political aspects of stabilization missions.
49. That said, we must avoid overburdening the Alliance. Not every security problem in the world is of direct concern to NATO, and it cannot solve every issue. There are many so-called 'soft' security issues where others, for example the UN, the EU, or the OSCE, can bring more to the table than NATO. We must avoid duplication of effort. Thus, NATO discussions must focus on its core business, namely defence and security.
50. In a world in which the demand for effective security policies is overstretching supply, NATO is faced with multiple challenges at a time of diminishing military resources and a lack of agreement on practical priorities. Agreement on basic principles is important to rebuild trust and confidence on NATO's agenda, its priorities and the specific mix of policy instruments to be employed. It is important that the Allies maintain the consensus principle in decision-making, that is, that decisions can only be taken if all Allies agree. However, the Allies must urgently rectify how they address issues that are relevant for their security. It would be short-sighted if the Allies could not hold political discussions on a specific issue because one country exercises its veto. This would seriously hamper the other 25 members from trying to build a policy consensus.
51. The continuing enlargement of the Alliance will also have an impact on NATO's necessary political transformation. At the time of writing, it appears unlikely that the Riga Summit will take a decision on this issue. However, your Rapporteur wants to stress that membership of the Alliance must remain open to those aspirants who demonstrate their adherence to the common values of the Alliance. This applies in particular to Albania, Croatia and the FYR of Macedonia* which are in the Membership Action Plan (MAP). In addition, NATO should continue to develop its relationships with Georgia and Ukraine.
52. Transformation is an ongoing, complex, and multi-dimensional process. It requires continuing adaptations, particularly in the conceptual, military, institutional, and geographic realms. NATO's adaptation of a comprehensive security approach means changes in:
- the way we view security challenges today, and how we use NATO to address them;
VII. ROLE OF PARLIAMENTS
53. In Afghanistan as elsewhere, the ability of the Alliance to succeed is strongly dependent on the continuing support of our publics. NATO as an organisation, as well as the governments of member states, must explain - and must explain better - why NATO is engaged in theatres that were until recently considered "out-of-area". In the absence of a direct threat, public diplomacy has become increasingly important. We clearly need to improve in this field: the 2006 Transatlantic Trends analysis shows continued decline in public support for NATO, with the strongest decline in countries that are traditionally perceived as strong supporters of NATO. We must avoid generating unrealistic expectations - rebuilding a country that has been ravaged by civil war for 30 years cannot be done quickly. In Afghanistan, NATO forces are involved in different types of operations simultaneously, including combat operations, peace enforcement and military training. Regrettably, the public debate that we have in our democracies all too often ignores the facts on the ground.
54. Moreover, although this is all too often overlooked, a number of NATO member states have 'parliamentary armies'. National parliaments decisively shape the commitments and contributions to the security of Alliance member countries. Parliaments vote on military and foreign aid budgets, help frame defence policy and can authorise deployments of national contingents including removing restrictions on the level of participation of national contingents in joint operations.
55. NATO's political transformation should also include closer relationship with parliaments of NATO member countries. The parliaments' crucial role was highlighted in the recent discussions in the Netherlands, where disagreements over the nature of the Afghanistan mission cast in doubt the participation of the Dutch contingent in ISAF's southern expansion. The "Tweede Kamer" eventually approved the deployment, but only after NATO officials pledged to provide more money for reconstruction, establishing a 'security net' for Dutch troops, mandating human rights guarantees for prisoners and giving independence to the Dutch contingent in its area of operation. Another example of a parliament's involvement in international security is the German Bundestag's role in agreeing to a German-led military mission of up to 1,450 troops in Congo.
56. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) makes important contributions to the Alliance. Our activities greatly enhance the transparency of NATO and increase public awareness of the broad range of security issues that are relevant for Member states and Partners. The continuing, structured debate between NATO and national parliaments also assists in building parliamentary support for NATO activities. With regard to Afghanistan, the Assembly may consider assisting the Afghan National Parliament in becoming an effective parliament. Afghan parliamentarians have not participated in a parliamentary democracy previously and they have not been prepared for their role. There is also very little support for parliamentary staff. The Assembly's possible assistance would be an important contribution, especially because the parliament is quite powerful in a number of respects and is critical to the effective functioning of the government of Afghanistan.
57. For the reasons mentioned above, NATO's political transformation should also deepen the relationship between NATO Headquarters and the Assembly. As the NATO PA is already assisting actively in NATO's public diplomacy efforts, one concrete proposal could be creating synergies in that domain by, for example, doing more programmes between NATO's Public Diplomacy Division and the Assembly.
58. The mission in Afghanistan is at a critical stage. The Alliance can and must succeed in Afghanistan. If we do not, we would seriously fail the people of Afghanistan and undermine our unity of purpose. Therefore, we must live up to our promises and match our political commitments with the necessary resources. We cannot allow the security situation in the country to deteriorate and we must provide the forces agreed. NATO member states must be more forthcoming in the allocation of troops and equipment as well as more flexible in the manner they can be used for operations on the ground. Robust forces must be able go where they are needed most and not to the safest areas. In addition, providing security throughout the whole country remains key, but reconstruction efforts must be better co-ordinated. To that end, priority should be given to projects in the sectors of irrigation, roads and energy supply. Furthermore, the Allies must apply the lessons of the operations in Afghanistan to NATO's ongoing military and political transformation. The troops must be not only sufficient in number, quality and commitment but effectively co-ordinated and with a common understanding of their mandate and how to apply it.
59. In view of the present situation, your Rapporteur wants to underline how to further develop NATO's operations in Afghanistan by:
60. As the Alliance will increasingly operate in a global strategic environment, and because available resources will be limited, we need to put a premium on conflict prevention. Here, too, we need to muster the political will and the necessary military capabilities to match our level of ambition. NATO should expand its set of instruments for crisis prevention but our guiding principle must be practicality, that is, we must avoid duplicating what other organisations can do and perhaps do better.
61. While the Alliance is becoming more active 'out-of-area', it is not becoming 'globocop', nor should it. Allies must discuss when, where, how, and with whom to intervene. As the Alliance is already engaged in a number of operations on three continents and our resources are stretched to the limit we should avoid adding more to NATO's agenda. That said, we cannot ignore that failed and failing states, as well as the spread of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism have an increasing impact upon the security of NATO member countries and those of our partners. NATO's core mission of collective defence must now address these new threats.
62. Further strengthening of co-operation and co-ordination with other actors, particularly with the EU, is therefore necessary. NATO must also continue to develop co-operation with partner countries and develop existing programmes like the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) and the Mediterranean Dialogue.
63. The development of the Alliance will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Thus, inclusion of Israel, Japan, and Columbia looks unlikely in the foreseeable future nor will NATO member countries forfeit collective defence as the fundament of the Alliance. Riga will be the first of three summits that are currently scheduled until 2009. It is the thus the first of a number of steps to identify and agree on a renovation and expansion of the guiding principles for the Alliance. The 2009 summit should culminate in an updated, new Strategic Concept of the Alliance. Your Rapporteur hopes, that this brief report can make a contribution to the developing discussion.
1 as of October 10, NATO-led PRTs are: Bamyan (under New Zealand lead), Mazar-e-Sharif (in Balkh Province, under Swedish lead with Danish, Finnish, Romanian, French and American elements), Meymana (in Faryab Province, under Norwegian lead with Finnish elements), Kunduz (under German lead with French, Hungarian, Romanian, Swiss, Netherlands, Belgian and UK elements), Feyzabad (in Badakhshan, under German Lead with Czech, Danish and Swiss elements), Pol-e Khomri (in Baghlan Province, under Hungarian lead), Herat (under Italian lead with French and Hungarian elements), Farah, Asadabad(in Konar province), Jalalabad (in Nangarhar Province), Gardez, Khowst (both in Paktia Province), Ghazni, Mether Lam (in Leghman Province), Sharana (in Paktika Province), Panjshir (all under the lead of the United States), Qala-e-Naw (in Badghis Province, under Spain lead), Chagcharan (in Ghor Province, under Lithuanian lead with Danish, Icelandic and American elements), Lashkar Gah (under British lead with Danish and Estonian elements), Tarin Kowt (under joint Dutch and Australian lead), Kandahar (under Canadian lead), Bagram (in Parwan Province under American lead with Korean elements), Qalat (under American lead with Romanian elements).
2 See "NATO in Afghanistan - Transformation on the Front Line", David Richards RUSI Journal August 2006 p10-14
* Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.