NATO Parliamentary Assembly
HomeNEWS ROOM201029 October 2010 - NATO PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY MEMBERS VISIT AFGHANISTAN: SIGNS OF PROGRESS BUT MORE TRAINERS NEEDED FOR AFGHAN NATIONAL SECURITY FORCES

29 October 2010 - NATO PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY MEMBERS VISIT AFGHANISTAN: SIGNS OF PROGRESS BUT MORE TRAINERS NEEDED FOR AFGHAN NATIONAL SECURITY FORCES

Facebook
Twitter
Delicious
Google Buzz
diggIt
RSS

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 Afghanistan (NTM-A).  With an annual budget of more than 12 billion dollars, NTM-A is a clear priority of the United States. The NATO PA delegation was impressed by what the mission has achieved so far against formidable challenges.28 nations committed trainers to NTM-A, but Gen. William  Caldwell, Commander of NTM-A, noted that more trainers were urgently needed to ensure that the ANSF can become a self-sustaining force.

The issue of private security companies (PSCs) is currently on top of Afghanistan ’s political agenda. President Karzai has issued a decree that calls for a ban of PSCs.   While there is an agreement that PSCs should be phased out over time, hasty decisions might leave a significant security gap that ISAF and Afghan security forces are not ready to fill.  Most development agencies rely on PSCs for their protection and many would be forced to leave Afghanistan if the decree does not include an exemption for them.

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 Afghanistan. Governance is still embryonic and overly Kabul-centric. Parliamentary elections in September were described as successful compared to the 2009 presidential elections. However, the existing electoral system does not favour the development of a viable political party system. Although final results have yet to be announced, it is feared that the largest ethnic community – the Pashtuns – will be underrepresented in the parliament. H.E. Yunus Quanuni, speaker of the lower chamber of the parliament, stressed that the new parliament should be neither a puppet of the executive branch nor assume a radical anti-systemic stance. Some interlocutors noted that establishment of Prime Minister’s position might rectify some flaws in the current institutional arrangement.

The international community needs to step up its assistance to Afghanistan in terms of reinforcing anti-corruption institutions, strengthening legislative oversight, building investigation, prosecution and judicial capacity and increasing transparency of sub-contracting networks. While it is hardly realistic to expect complete eradication of corruption in the country, the real achievement would be reducing it to the level where it stops fuelling the insurgency.

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 Afghanistan noticeably prevails over news about the achievements and positive trends. The youth of Afghanistan was identified as a priority target group.

Share