Bucharest, 9 October 2011 – NATO TOLD INVESTMENT VITAL TO PROTECT AGAINST AFGHANISTAN’S DEADLY IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVES
NATO nations received a warning Sunday that progress in countering the homemade bombs which are the biggest killer of troops and civilians in Afghanistan could be thrown away and soldiers’ lives put at greater risk unless investment continues in developing countermeasures against Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
"We need to ensure that NATO’s Counter-IED efforts continue to be developed and funded,’" said Canadian Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, who authored a report on countering the Afghan insurgency which was adopted by lawmakers at the annual session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
"As we begin to transition in Afghanistan and budgets are getting tighter, I would urge our governments not to forget hard-earned lessons," Nolin told the Assembly’s Science and Technology Committee which voted to adopt his report. "To do less would be to needlessly threaten our soldiers’ lives and waste our tax payers’ money."
Over the past three years, about 60 percent of NATO casualties in Afghanistan have been caused by IEDs and their use is on the rise. The number of IED events increased by over 300 percent from 2008 to 2010. Latest Pentagon figures show insurgents planted almost 4,500 bombs from May to July this year, up 17 per cent on the same period in 2010.
"The IED threat is constantly evolving and becoming evermore complex," Nolin cautioned.
On the positive side, he pointed to improvements in NATO’s response, including progress on the detection of IEDs and the protection of troops through technologies such as radio frequency jammers, electro-magnetic pulse technologies to destroy radio-controlled IEDs, or the use of improved finger-printing techniques to track down bomb-makers.
Nolin’s report was one of three on Afghanistan adopted by lawmakers from the 28 NATO nations on Sunday as the situation in the country continued to take centre-stage at the session.
Portuguese member Vitalino Canas reported to the Civil Dimension of Security Committee on the governance challenges in Afghanistan. His report warned that the country’s political system is in a deep state of crisis, with widespread corruption, lack of trained civil servants and severe deficiencies in the judicial system. It said the international community must do more to improve the situation.
"The Afghan National Government as well as the international community need to make national and local governance in Afghanistan their priority and allocate adequate resources for improving this sector," said the report. "There is a tendency to think that security is the key pre-condition for good governance. In fact vice versa is also true."
In the Assembly’s Defence and Security Committee, Estonian member Sven Mikser reported on the security situation in Afghanistan, pointing out how successes by NATO troops in securing areas of the country previously under Taliban control, the improved capacity of Afghan security forces and US operations to take out Taliban leaders had been mitigated by the Taliban’s switch of tactics to focus on assassinations of high-profile figures and symbols of the international presence. Progress was tangible, he stated, even if it remained fragile and reversible if NATO and its’ Afghan partners did not ensure the process of transition to Afghan security forces was properly supported.