29 October 2010 - NATO PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY MEMBERS VISIT AFGHANISTAN: SIGNS OF PROGRESS BUT MORE TRAINERS NEEDED FOR AFGHAN NATIONAL SECURITY FORCES
A NATO parliamentary Assembly delegation led by Jan Arild Ellingsen (Norway), Acting Chairman of the NATO PA Science and Technology Committee, visited Afghanistan for the second time in 2010 from 23 to 27 October.
The delegation, which included members of parliament from Canada, Denmark, Georgia and Poland met with leaders of the Parliament of Afghanistan and senior representatives of NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan (NTM-A), the European Union Police Mission (EUPOL) and the diplomatic community. The delegation also visited a Turkish-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) as well as the Afghan National Police (ANP) training site in Wardak province where it met with the governor of the province.
ISAF Commanders are confident that they have the right mix of strategy and resources for the mission, but more trainers are needed to build the Afghan National Security Forces. It will take time for positive results to manifest, but there signs already that the insurgency cannot keep up with increased NATO operational tempo and that the momentum is reversing in favour of ISAF. While the number of violent events in the country increased compared to 2009, this was mostly due to increase in direct fire events as a result of NATO’s offensive in the Southern provinces. Also, NATO forces succeeded in preventing an increase in civilian casualties. Although there are still some civilian casualties, those caused by insurgent forces outweigh those attributed to NATO forces by a ratio of 15-1.
The ISAF leadership emphasised that transition is a conditions-based process and that it cannot be seen as an exit strategy. Most interlocutors regarded the year 2014 – rather than 2011 – as the year of transition. However, it was also noted that transition has already started and the Afghan National Army (ANA) is increasingly leading the counterinsurgency operations. Transition, it was stressed, is a process, not an event.
However, in order to capitalize on military success and make the progress towards stability sustainable, further development of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) is needed. This is the objective of the National Training Mission in
The issue of private security companies (PSCs) is currently on top of
It is widely recognized that a political solution to the conflict is needed, and that the reconciliation process is the path forward. ISAF’s brand-new Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP) offers incentives to fighters to return to normal life in their communities. The programme is based on the assumption that an overwhelming majority of insurgents are not ideological fanatics devoted to global Jihad. As long as their practical economic, social and personal security needs are met and they accept basic human rights, the reconciliation and reintegration is possible. In return, they agree to refrain from combat and support the Afghan national constitution. Although the total number of insurgents in the reconciliation process is relatively small, the trendline is positive and the recent ISAF offensive against insurgent strongholds has generated pressure for reconciliation. This progress, however, could be endangered if a ban on PSCs is enacted, because ISAF troops could be tasked to convoy protection and other duties performed by PSCs instead of increasing the pressure on the insurgency.
Poor governance and corruption remain major internal challenges for
The international community needs to step up its assistance to
A number of interlocutors also stressed the need to step up NATO communication strategies reaching out both to the Afghani people and population at home, where, pessimistic and alarming information about the situation in