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American Forces Press Service

U.N. Extends NATO Mandate in Afghanistan

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2011 – The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously yesterday to extend authorization of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan for another year while continuing to transfer key responsibilities to the Afghan government by the end of 2014.

The resolution extends the mandate for ISAF’s 130,000-member force to Oct. 13, 2012.

The Security Council urged U.N. members to continue contributing personnel, equipment and other resources to ISAF while working to support security and stability in Afghanistan. The 15-member body encouraged ISAF and other partners to accelerate progress already made by training, mentoring and empowering Afghan national security forces.

The goal, the resolution said, is to reach the point at which “self-sufficient, sustainable, accountable and ethnically balanced Afghan security forces [are] providing security and ensuring the rule of law throughout the country.”

Afghan authorities’ increasing leadership role in transitioning security responsibility throughout the country was noted in the resolution, which also stressed the importance of ongoing efforts to expand the Afghan army and police.

The members expressed concern over ongoing violence by the Taliban, al-Qaida and other extremist elements and the civilian casualties attributed largely to their activities. The members recognized efforts ISAF and other international forces have made to minimize civilian casualties, and urged them to continue to “undertake enhanced efforts to prevent civilian casualties, including the increased focus on protecting the Afghan population as a central element of the mission.”

In addition, the council voiced support for the enduring partnership declaration NATO and the Afghan government agreed to last year to provide sustained support to Afghanistan to help it develop the capacity to tackle threats to its security and stability.

Speaking earlier this month at a NATO defense ministers conference in Brussels, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta praised the alliance for the successes it has achieved in Afghanistan, while emphasizing that the mission is not yet over. Panetta said last year’s troop surge has created the right conditions for transition in Afghanistan.

While noting strides made, he stressed the need for continued support through the drawdown process. Particularly important, he said, are enablers such as medevac teams, helicopters and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to complete the mission.

Panetta said he was struck during the session by his fellow ministers’ “shared commitment to carry forward this mission and to build on the significant progress we’ve made.”

“There is also consensus that we are on the right path, we’ve made good progress, [and] there are hard times ahead,” the secretary concluded. “But we remain unified in the goal of achieving a stable Afghanistan that can govern and secure itself for the future.”

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