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Updated: 29-Apr-2004

SHAPE News Summary & Analysis

29 April 2004

  • Success in northern city highlights NATO shortfalls elsewhere in Afghanistan
  • Czech NATO envoy describes NATO delegation trip to Afghanistan
  • Norway sending 100 additional troops to Afghanistan
  • Poor security disrupting Afghan election plans


  • NAEW force commander visits Greece for talks on Olympic security


  • NATO envoys who visited northern Afghanistan could hardly have received a more upbeat assessment of the allied peacekeeping effort there, reports AP. NATO’s own local commanders and an Afghan delegation headed by the regional military strongman painted a glowing picture of unprecedented security, emerging democracy, women’s rights, new schools, asphalted roads and clinics to treat widespread malaria and tuberculosis, the dispatch adds. It stresses, however, that success in Kunduz only highlights NATO’s failure to expand its mission into other cities, adding: After months of delays, plans agreed by all NATO nations aim to set up a network of PRTs across the north and west of Afghanistan ahead of key presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for September. NATO diplomats talked up their chances of meeting the targets, but serious concerns remain over shortfalls in troops and essential equipment. “NATO needs to get on with this now. You can’t just talk about what you’re going to do, now you have to do what you said you’re going to do,” the dispatch quotes Gen. Jones saying Tuesday as he flew out of Afghanistan. According to the dispatch, he told reporters that nations had committed around 85 percent of the forces needed to expand the mission. But he complained that key components such as helicopters, medical units, rapid reaction troops and intelligence officers were still missing. Claiming that in one key shortfall, a request from Gen. Jones for six C-130 transport planes, has resulted only in one, the dispatch further quotes SACEUR saying: “We need to solve this problem. You can have 80 percent of the force generated, but if you can’t get it there, it’s not of much use to you.”

  • Prague’s CTK, April 27, quoted Czech Ambassador to NATO Karel Kovana saying after the NAC’s trip to Afghanistan that NATO troops, including Czech troops, are well received and understood in Afghanistan. “I have many feelings, but the most important is how our soldiers are accepted in Afghanistan. We heard how the inhabitants like us and want to have more there from all sides. There is no doubt that we are increasing the security in the country,” he reportedly said. Commenting on his visit to a PRT in Mazar-e-Sharif, Kovana added: “It is a very interesting work. About 100 people are in the team, including soldiers and civilians from development agencies and they take care not only of Mazar-e-Sharif, but also four other provinces. They are the eyes and ears of the international community in far-flung villages. They often work as mediators in conflicts that could grow into clashes. Thanks to this role, our units are welcomed in Afghanistan.” According to the dispatch, he added that “we will discuss how to increase our presence in Afghanistan in the next two or three weeks.”

  • The Norwegian military effort in Afghanistan is undergoing rapid reinforcement. By July, there may be approximately 320 Norwegian soldiers and officers in the country. And NATO is asking for even more Norwegian support, reported Oslo’s Aftenposten, April 28. The article added that NATO, as leader of ISAF, has asked Norway to lead its own PRT. “NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer took the matter up with Prime Minister Bondevik directly in Oslo Monday. Bondevik said the government would consider the query,” the dispatch stressed.

  • According to AP, chief election official Farooq Wardak said Thursday poor security was knocking holes in plans to register voters for Afghanistan’s elections. Officials hope to register voters across the country in a two-month drive starting Saturday, but are unable to begin in four insurgency-plagued provinces, he reportedly said. He added that he expected registration would start a week late in one of the provinces, eastern Nuristan, but offered no forecasts for Zabul, Uruzgan and Paktika—three provinces further south where Taliban sympathies run deep and the government has limited control. “First we have to provide security. Then we will decide when we can start our work in those three,” Wardak is quoted saying at a news conference with UN officials. According to the dispatch, he said the delay of the election until September meant registration could continue beyond June in problem areas. He also repeated appeals to international and Afghan security forces to help get Afghans signed up and to protect the vote itself. “If there is no security we will find it very difficult,” he said.


  • Greek daily To Vima, April 27, reported that NAEW Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Winterberger, visited Athens Monday for talks with top-ranking Greek officials on Greece’s request for a NATO contribution to Olympic security. According to the newspaper, he told Lt. Gen. Yiannopoulos, the official responsible for Olympic security in the National Defense General Staff (YEETHA), that NATO will contribute eight AWACS that will scan Greece’s national airspace round the clock. The aircraft will have mixed crews, including Greek pilots, radar operators, voice communication recorders and air traffic controllers, and will operate from a NATO base in Italy and from the transit base in Aktio. The newspaper quoted unnamed sources saying NATO officials had made three requests to the Greek authorities. The first was that “highly advanced espionage devices” be installed in Greece, at specific locations and with round-the-clock protection. The request was granted. The second involved communication between these devices, with NATO asking for specific people and services with which these devices will communicate. Greece’s response was that on clearly military issues, these devises will communicate with the YEETHA, while on other issues like policing and intelligence they will communicate with the Ministry of Public Order. The third request, which was also accepted, was that the AWACS aircraft stopping at Aktio base be heavily guarded. Finally, the regions that will be sailed by NATO ships, including Greek vessels, during the Games were defined. The newspaper noted that these regions are outside Greece’s national waters, which means NATO vessels will be sailing south of Crete and north of the Ionian Islands. Consequently, NATO’s naval forces will be responsible for ship searches outside Greece’s national waters, and the Greek Navy, which will be cooperating with NATO ships round the clock, will be responsible for ship searches inside them.


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