Select Committee on Defence Written Evidence

Memorandum from the British American Security Information Council (BASIC)


  1.1  The British-led Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) will take command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) at a unique and critical time. Afghanistan has experienced an upsurge in violence in 2005. This violence emanates from a mix of continued warlordism and Taliban and Al Qaeda remnants becoming more organised and perhaps more desperate. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is under pressure to take on a combat role either under, or in conjunction with, the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom. This submission raises issues that the UK government will need to consider carefully before ISAF joins Operation Enduring Freedom in undertaking a broader combat role in Afghanistan.

  1.2  The submission begins with a brief overview of the security environment. Taking into account the current environment, it is our contention that Afghanistan is in need of strengthened peace operations rather than a greater investment in combat operations. This reasoning is also based on the possible ramifications of NATO taking over Operation Enduring Freedom or at least taking on a greater combat role. The second part of the submission explores a series of brief scenarios for the Defence Committee and other relevant parties to consider before next spring. If NATO takes on Operation Enduring Freedom or a full-fledged combat role in conjunction with that operation, the alliance could jeopardize ISAF peace operations.


  2.1  Afghanistan is witnessing its highest level of violence in several years. While Taliban and Al Qaeda still threaten southern and eastern Afghanistan, heavily armed warlords and militia commanders pose a violent threat throughout the country. [1]A persistently weak security sector permits this violence to continue.

  2.2.  Deaths from militant-related violence topped 1,200 from January to August 2005. Moreover, insurgents and militia are pinpointing their attacks at the redeveloping security sector. Six hundred Afghan police died violently between 9 October 2004 and 16 May 2005. [2]After recent parliamentary elections, the Taliban attacked an army training centre and killed at least 12 Afghans, most of whom were army officers. The attack took place near a base for NATO-led peace operations. It was the worst suicide attack in Kabul since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. [3]

  2.3  There are several plausible reasons for the increase in violence in the past 12 months or so. Most observers expected an increase in violence before the September 2005 parliamentary elections. Also, Al Qaeda and the Taliban may have sharpened their tactics after four years of combat experience with coalition forces. Some analysts have also argued that Taliban and Al Qaeda numbers are dwindling and, therefore, that they are becoming more desperate and launching as many attacks as they can muster before time runs out. In addition, warlords, militia commanders and common criminals have been able to prey off of the market for poppy production and the absence of strong and legitimate security structures.

  2.4  While the war with the Taliban and Al Qaeda is continuing, Afghans are more concerned with the problem of widespread warlordism and crime. Crime has increased significantly in recent years. The increase in crime moved protestors in March 2005 to call for the resignation of Kandahar's governor. [4]When questioned by the International Republican Institute in the fall of 2004, 50% of those Afghans polled said that the disarmament of commanders and warlords was their biggest concern. This concern ranked above worries about economic development and Al Qaeda and Taliban. But rather surprisingly perhaps, only 7% of those polled said strengthening the national army and police was their priority. [5]

  2.5  These poll results seem to oversimplify a complicated and interconnected security problem in Afghanistan. It is hard to see how warlords and commanders will surrender their arms and shady careers in crime without better alternatives that can come only from an improved economic environment. Likewise, the Taliban and Al Qaeda are unlikely to be defeated and will gain more adherents so long as Afghanistan depends on foreigners for security and aid. While the Japanese-led disarmament and demobilization effort has made some inroads, the country is unlikely to make much more progress in disarming the various militias and armed factions without its own effective security forces. Afghanistan will be hard pressed to make a strong economic recovery if it fails to escape from violence perpetrated by Taliban, Al Qaeda, and especially the more widespread violence of warlords and militia commanders. This is why a five pillar security sector reform programme was instituted during a donors conference in Geneva, Switzerland in April 2002, with the United States taking the lead role in reforming and reconstructing the Afghan Army, Germany taking the lead on policing, Italy leading judicial reform, the United Kingdom heading counter-narcotics, and Japan leading the demobilization effort. [6]

  2.6  The "lead nation" concept for security sector reform, however, has drawbacks in that it allows countries to leave much of the work to those "lead" countries when they themselves may have expertise and other resources to offer. While donor governments are coming to terms with this problem and are expanding their contributions for security sector reform, Afghanistan could benefit from the additional strengthening of ISAF and NATO peace operations. The United Kingdom should lead the ARRC and ISAF operations in the direction of increased and improved peace operations, especially in accelerating and deepening security sector reform, rather than using resources for combat operations with Operation Enduring Freedom.


  3.1  Expanding NATO's efforts into combat operations, whether under or alongside Operation Enduring Freedom, is likely to compromise the peace operations that NATO has invested in ISAF since 2003. An even stronger peace operations presence and a more robust indigenous security sector are more critical for dealing with what will be a long-term threat to Afghanistan.

  3.2  Of course, the United Kingdom is already fighting alongside other NATO-member countries in Operation Enduring Freedom. The important point is how combat and peace operations are organized and where the United Kingdom's military resources provide the most "value added". Just as important is taking into account the perceptions of Afghans towards troops engaged in combat and peace operations.

  3.3  As NATO plans its expansion into Afghanistan's southern, eastern and border regions where insurgents are most active, alliance-led forces will face the prospect of engaging in high levels of combat. Different levels of engagement are possible for NATO. However, a sketch of three scenarios for NATO operations in Afghanistan reveals that merging alliance operations and Operation Enduring Freedom may not be the best way forward for Afghanistan's stabilisation and reconstruction. These three scenarios include:

    (a)  Merging NATO operations and Operation Enduring Freedom, or keeping operations separate, but with NATO taking on Enduring Freedom-type combat roles;

    (b)  Having NATO take over the combat operations of Enduring Freedom and handing peace operations over to another international organisation or coalition; or,

    (c)  Continuing NATO's current focus on peace operations through ISAF and letting Operation Enduring Freedom take care of main combat operations.

  3.4  The first two scenarios have NATO visibly engaged in combat on the same level of intensity as Operation Enduring Freedom. The last scenario suggests maintaining NATO's role in ISAF peace operations without taking on Enduring Freedom-type combat responsibilities, and highlights areas that the United Kingdom could improve with its leverage as lead of the ARRC when it takes command of ISAF in May 2006.

(a)   Merge NATO operations and Operation Enduring Freedom or keep operations separate, but with NATO taking on an Enduring Freedom-type combat role

  3.5  According to NATO Spokesman James Appathurai, one option is for NATO to create "`two task forces with separate missions, but brought together near the top under one command' . . . which would require revising the military rules of engagement to allow combat by ISAF." During a meeting at the White House in the summer of 2005, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer iterated that these plans were being taken seriously. "One could find a way to have two separate missions", de Hoop Scheffer said, "with a combat mission and a distinct peacekeeping mission under the umbrella of ISAF and a unified NATO command".[7]

  3.6  While the exact configurations for NATO involvement in combat operations under or with Operation Enduring Freedom are not entirely clear, merging under one command and having ISAF take on a combat role may seem more efficient in the sense that NATO will enter an environment that has coalition partners that are already members of NATO. If NATO had "two separate missions", it would allow some NATO countries to contribute to peace operations without having to contribute to new combat operations. In addition, many see NATO's chance to prove its mettle in the post-cold war and out-of-Europe operations through its mission in Afghanistan. One NATO official has said, "Afghanistan is where NATO's credibility is on the line".[8]

  3.7  While NATO expansion into a combat role in southern and eastern Afghanistan and elsewhere as needed may have some of those practical benefits, either of these configurations (whether working under or alongside Operation Enduring Freedom) poses two problems. First, intensifying NATO's responsibility in the country to include full-fledged combat operations will strain NATO's resources for ISAF peace operations. Second, having NATO participate in high-level combat operations could harm ISAF's efforts in peace operations by altering Afghan perceptions towards NATO.

NATO capabilities and resources for combat and peace operations roles in Afghanistan

  3.8  If NATO were to take on a combat role, and current US troops (now between 18-20,000 in Operation Enduring Freedom) were to draw down, NATO would need to increase its troop presence to fill the gap and commit troops that would be dedicated to this new combat role in Afghanistan. Although some NATO member countries are serving in Enduring Freedom, separate from ISAF operations, NATO would probably need to significantly bolster its troop numbers and equipment to take on the new mission. The strain on NATO resources in fulfilling existing ISAF peace operations, together with likely opposition among several major NATO members for a broadening of its mandate, suggest that the alliance would have a difficult time garnering enough resources to take over a new combat mission in addition to sustaining current peace operations.

  3.9  Taking over ISAF in 2003 was a logistical challenge for NATO. Over the course of two years, NATO came under pressure to take over Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) [9]and expand its presence beyond Kabul. Transport helicopter and troop shortfalls have dogged NATO's Afghan operations, [10]although these problems have since been resolved. NATO reports that ISAF currently conducts patrols in 16 police districts in Kabul and surrounding areas. ISAF has two Regional Area Coordinators, its northern Regional Area Coordinator located in Kunduz and its western one in Herat. These have PRTs underneath them, with five in the northern and four in the western regions. [11]ISAF's area of operation now covers more than 50% of Afghanistan. [12]

  3.10  Some alliance members want to expand NATO's investment in Afghanistan's security, but exactly how to make this investment is in dispute. US administration officials sound eager to have NATO take on counter-insurgency operations and UK Defence Secretary John Reid is drawing up plans to put UK forces into the south in a counter-terrorism role. He also wants to lead an initiative to bring all troops in Afghanistan under one command, "I am going to try to bring closer together the US Operation Enduring Freedom, which is aimed at counter-terrorism, and the International Security Assistance Force, which is aimed at other areas".[13]

  3.11  French, German, and Spanish officials, as revealed during the most recent meeting of NATO ministers, do not want to have NATO take on the type of combat role reserved for Operation Enduring Freedom and do not want NATO joined with Enduring Freedom under one command (even though Germany has some troops working with the coalition under Operation Enduring Freedom, separate from NATO's ISAF operations). [14]France, which has special forces soldiers working alongside US troops in Afghanistan, has voiced particularly strong opposition to merging the two missions. A French Defence Ministry official said recently, "the two missions were completely different. If you suddenly merge special forces or heavy counter-terrorism units with stabilising forces, which is NATO's role in Afghanistan, then you completely undermine NATO's role".[15]

  3.12  The lack of political support from these three key European countries is likely to mean that NATO will have a hard time finding enough troops to take on a new combat role. This is despite some reports that the UK Defence Secretary is planning to announce a large troop increase for Afghanistan—maybe up to 4,000—in addition to the 900 UK troops currently in Afghanistan. [16]At the time of writing this submission, it was unclear whether these troops would be earmarked for coalition combat operations or for NATO peace operations. Germany, which still opposes the idea of placing ISAF under command of Operation Enduring Freedom, is also moving in the direction of increasing its troop strength in the country by adding 750 troops to its current deployment of 2,250. [17]However, Germany's contribution would be for ISAF peace operations only. [18]

  3.13  If NATO becomes overwhelmed by a new combat role and no other organisation can fill the ISAF role, Afghanistan could be left without a peace operations plan and the country would fall victim to the same problems it has experienced in years past. Moreover, without strong peace operations, the combat role will become all the more difficult because more Afghans might become inclined to join groups opposed to Western intervention, especially if the conditions that created the various warring factions in the first place are allowed to fester and grow once more.

How a new combat role for NATO could change Afghan perceptions towards ISAF peace operations

  3.14  Increasing the alienation of Afghans from ISAF peace operations could also refuel insurgencies. In addition to becoming wary of foreign combat operations overall, for ISAF to work in both peace operations and combat operations, with Operation Enduring Freedom it could jeopardise any trust that ISAF members have built with local Afghans.

  3.15  To argue that NATO should not take on an Enduring Freedom-type role is not to say that the alliance currently has an indifferent peacekeeping role. ISAF is not a traditional peacekeeping operation in the sense of being an impartial broker among various competing groups. ISAF has some of the same contributing countries that coalition forces have in Operation Enduring Freedom and these countries oppose the influence of Al Qaeda and Taliban ideologies. The roles demanded by Operation Enduring Freedom, however, would require a much more combat-driven and hostile presence that would not mix well with the image that ISAF personnel, whether military or civilian, want to project toward Afghans.

  3.16  First, decision makers need to remember that the roles of combat and peace operations troops are distinctive. The PRT concept itself came from the military-civil-affairs (CA) units. According to one analyst, "CA units differ from regular military forces in that they are designed and trained to facilitate civil-governance functions and public sector services, as opposed to troops and units that are equipped and trained to conduct combat operations".[19] Some PRTs, however, have served as bases for small counter-insurgency operations and this has put into question the viability of PRTs for peace operations. Overall, although NATO troops have gone through combat training at one point at least in their careers, their roles have become specialised through ISAF peace operations. [20]

  3.17  A well-known precept in peace operations and one that is stated in US Army field manuals declares, "Every soldier must be aware that the goal is to produce conditions that are conducive to peace and not to the destruction of an enemy. The enemy is the conflict." [21]The manual goes on to argue that diplomatic considerations take priority over purely military requirements and constraints on the use of force are important to building better relations with civilians. On the other hand, NATO troops sent into counter-insurgency missions in Afghanistan will develop an entirely different relationship (if much of one at all) with locals.

  3.18  Second, decision makers also need to keep in mind that a closer identification of peace and combat operations could harm ISAF efforts. Lt Col Donna Boltz said it well in her research on the role of peace operations:

    The measure of success is not dominating the enemy but influencing the affected parties to create the conditions for a stable environment in which businesses flourish, children regularly attend schools, and families live free from the fear of being forced from their homes. It is clear, then, that a relationship of trust and understanding must exist between and among the military, police, and civilians supporting the operation as well as members of the threatened, failing, or failed state. [22]

  3.19  For NATO to take on counter-insurgency operations and continue peace operations will require some alliance troops to "dominate the enemy", while other troops will need to develop more trusting relationships with Afghans. This mixing of roles for NATO could confuse Afghan civilians and place NATO troops in more precarious and ambiguous situations.

  3.20  Already, some analysts are arguing that combat and peace operations have influenced one another too much. A report from the UN Joint Logistics Centre argues, "Both forces [from ISAF and Operation Enduring Freedom] are in uniform and are, irrespective of their functions/affiliations/mandates, indistinguishable to the public, with the image portrayed by one, inevitably influencing the acceptance of the other".[23] Whether or not this assessment exaggerates the current perceptions of connections between peace operations and combat troops, having NATO take over combat missions in addition to its current peace operations will only exacerbate this problem.

  3.21  Moreover, expanding ISAF in an Enduring Freedom-type operation could worsen already tense relations between PRTs and non-governmental humanitarian organisations. Humanitarian principles hold that aid should be provided in an impartial and apolitical basis. Many NGOs on the ground have concerns about the way PRTs are managed, partly because military organisations have been perceived as infringing on NGO space. [24]Cassandra Nelson, a senior spokeswoman for Mercy Corps-Afghanistan, summarised the point: "When we tackle reconstruction, we don't have the stigma of having carried guns".[25] Yet the PRTs often operate where NGOs cannot because those environs have been too dangerous. [26]

  3.22  Finally, were NATO to merge its operations with Enduring Freedom it would have international legal implications. Currently, ISAF has a UN-approved mandate. [27]Should policymakers try to merge ISAF with Enduring Freedom's mission, ISAF could lose its UN-approved mandate if enough countries were to oppose the adoption of an additional counter-insurgency/combat role.

(b)   Allow NATO to take over the combat duties similar to Operation Enduring Freedom and have a different organisation take over peace support operations.

  3.23  In October 2005, NATO's Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in an interview with US News and World Report that he "would like to see NATO take the lead in all of Afghanistan".[28] The Secretary-General said in the same interview that he does not believe the United States and the rest of NATO should merge Operation Enduring Freedom and ISAF operations. [29]Whether or not it was intended, the statement raises the possibility of Operation Enduring Freedom coming to a close, at least in its current form, and NATO taking over combat operations, mainly against Al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents in southern and eastern Afghanistan. Another organisation, or a coalition of the willing, would need to pick up peace operations from NATO.

  3.24  Having NATO take over Operation Enduring Freedom and abandon its peace operations duties would permit the continued separation of organisations overseeing different missions. Moreover, the problem in the first scenario could be avoided for NATO because the alliance could transfer and focus all of its resources in Afghanistan on the combat mission.

  3.25  Leaving peace operations for other organisations or a coalition of the willing, however, could leave Afghanistan without the peace operations assistance that it still requires. Right now, no other organisation has the same capacity for peace operations in Afghanistan as NATO.

  3.26  The EU and United Nations are the only two organisations that could be considered for the magnitude of ISAF operations in Afghanistan, but both lack the resources to take on the entire challenge. (Certainly, other organisations, such as the OSCE, have contributed to facets of Afghanistan's reconstruction, such as election monitoring.) The EU has been developing its capabilities to conduct the so-called Petersberg Tasks, [30]which include undertaking high-intensity peace operations. The EU has also been ramping up its policing and civilian crisis management capabilities. The EU has tested its emerging capacities in Africa and in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. But while the EU has already made some contributions to Afghanistan's reconstruction, it does not have anything like enough personnel ready for conducting the kind of large-scale missions that an Afghanistan-type operation would require. Similarly, while the United Nations has participated in Afghanistan's reconstruction process, it suffers from under-funding and a lack of consensus and confidence, and is unlikely to be able to pull together the personnel and other resources necessary to deploy the kind of peace operation that could completely take over the work of ISAF.

  3.27  Whereas no other organisation has NATO's capacity for undertaking peace operations in Afghanistan, it is a job that NATO cannot do alone. The peace operation is crucially reliant on the contributions of other international organisations. For example, NATO is not equipped to undertake all of the civil functions necessary for a successful reconstruction of the security sector, and the alliance needs organisations such as the EU with its experience in the Balkans reconstruction process. [31]

  3.28 Therefore, NATO should deepen and extend its relationships with other international organisations in Afghanistan because these relationships will improve the overall effectiveness of Afghanistan's reconstruction process. In the longer-term, the alliance should consider handing over peace operations (including reconstruction) to non-military organisations, especially as levels of violence hopefully decrease. A UN report warns what could happen if NATO runs peace operations for too long in Afghanistan:

    The challenge of policymakers is to recognise that there is a distinction between the three endeavours of warfare, reconstruction, and occupation. Coalition forces and NATO/ISAF forces are trained to prevail in the first; they can be helpful in the second under certain conditions; but if they undertake the reconstruction in a highly visible manner over an extended period of time, and combined reconstruction with information gathering and other unrelated pseudo-military activities, they will be perceived by the public as an occupying force . . . If they raise expectations that they can "get the job done" and later fail to "deliver the goods", the self-inflicted damage extends worldwide and far into the future. [32]

  3.28  In the short-term, however, NATO is necessary to the success of peace operations in Afghanistan. NATO and other contributing countries should seek to strengthen and improve current peace operations, rather than move into combat roles.

(c)   Continue current NATO ISAF mission, but with improvements

  3.29  Continuing the current ISAF mission along current lines is not the ideal way to proceed, although it may be less harmful than if NATO were to take on Operation Enduring Freedom's tasks. Rather than becoming burdened with a larger combat mission, the United Kingdom should seek to improve peace operations in Afghanistan by encouraging (a) other donor countries to do more in security sector reform and (b) other international organisations beyond NATO (such as the EU, OSCE and UN agencies) to become more involved. NATO may need to focus more on force protection in the south and east and the alliance may need to take its time with this expansion, but it should not engage in the type of combat and counter-insurgency operations undertaken by Operation Enduring Freedom.

  3.30  While NATO's ISAF operations have had a limited role in rebuilding Afghanistan's security sector, this is a facet of the country's reconstruction where NATO could have a major legitimate and effective impact. NATO will need to insure that Afghan nationals are brought into running these processes as much as possible so a sense of ownership takes hold and Afghans can sustain these programs after contributing countries depart.

Training of the Afghan National Army

  3.31  Coalition countries, mainly under the leadership of the United States, with assistance from Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, Mongolia, Romania, South Korea, and the United Kingdom have provided military trainers for the Afghan army. [33]They have trained about 28,000 local troops, with a goal of fielding 70,000 troops by 2007. [34]However, the development of core military institutions that will hold the Afghan National Army (ANA) together, such as logistics commands, is lagging behind the basic training of troops. [35]Without the creation of strong military institutions, Afghan troops will lack a solid basis for guidance and the ANA will not have a sense of cohesion that can build loyalty and discipline. The army could become fractured and more susceptible to infiltration by insurgent groups.

  3.32  With a considerable number of troops left to train and a special need to develop core military institutions, NATO could take on a more specialised role in this aspect of Afghanistan's security sector reform. NATO has been training Iraqi officers, and has years of experience with training its own officers and those of future alliance members. If the United States is eager to draw down some of its troops in Afghanistan, it would make more sense for NATO to continue building upon its peace operations role and training expertise, rather than devoting its resources to a full-fledged combat role that could endanger its peace operations.

Disarmament and Demobilisation

  3.33  ISAF has worked with Afghanistan's government and the United Nations in support of the disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration of former combatants. According to ISAF's website, it will work as part of a new programme that will disarm an estimated 120,000 illegal armed men and return them to civilian life.

  3.34  Despite ISAF and Japan's work in Afghan disarmament, an NGO researcher recently found some local commanders and units re-arming at a rate of 2-20%.[36] One commander has over 12,000 light weapons and is trafficking them in order to replace the income that he lost through disarmament. [37]As mentioned above, the disarmament of warlords and militia has been a top concern for Afghans. Unfortunately, after the end of Soviet occupation and Afghanistan's civil war, it was the Taliban who disarmed the warlords. Thus, disarmament plays a symbolic as well as a practical security role in Afghanistan.

  3.35  With NATO's experience in weapons collection and destruction in the Balkans, for example, the alliance should continue and intensify its role in disarmament. As Afghanistan's security sector is reconstructed, NATO should train Afghans in disarmament procedures to insure that legitimate indigenous forces have the ability to carry out these tasks independent of foreign assistance in the future.

Other needs in security sector reform

  3.36  While the training of police is not necessarily the type of role NATO has taken on in the past, the need for a more effective police force in Afghanistan is so urgent that the UK government, through NATO and any other channels, needs to bring more resources to bear on police reform. While Afghan army troops have performed relatively well according to some anecdotal evidence, the national police have had a far more difficult time. According to US State and Defense Department accounts, "many of the untrained officers remain loyal to local militias in an environment dominated by ethnic loyalties. Working with untrained colleagues, newly trained policemen often find it difficult to apply the principles they learned during training".[38]

  3.37  There are estimated to be about 50,000 men working as police in Afghanistan, but they are "generally untrained, poorly equipped, illiterate (70-90%), and often owe their allegiance to local warlords and militia commanders rather than the central government".[39] Many of those serving as police are former Mujahedeen who have experienced a lifetime of combat and are "accustomed to acting with impunity".[40] The Afghan National Police (ANP) has over 35,000 members trained, but the goal is to have 62,000. [41]While Germany has taken the lead in police training, the United States also started to train Afghan police, but with a shortened method that does not include weapons or literacy training. [42]

  3.38  Organisations such as the EU and OSCE have proven track records in police training in other countries. Broader participation from these two organisations in Afghanistan is essential. The UK government has donated about £1 million to police reconstruction in Afghanistan (as of January 2005[43]) and the United Kingdom is generally becoming more involved in police reform through the PRTs. [44]As of January 2005, the EU has donated about £48 million to the reconstruction of the Afghan National Police, while (as of June 2005) the United States had contributed about £486 million. [45]Germany, the lead nation for police reconstruction, had spent £38 million (as of January 2005[46]), mostly on police reconstruction in Kabul. [47]

  3.39  All of this funding on police and security sector reform is welcome, but Afghanistan will need more resources, both financial and human, from international organisations and country donors for this undertaking to be a success. For instance, peace operations in East Timor, Bosnia and Kosovo benefited from field-based training and mentoring. Currently, however, US officials are saying that deploying such trainers throughout Afghanistan and into dangerous areas is too expensive. The first-year cost to implement a countrywide field-based training and mentoring programme in Afghanistan has been estimated at £90 million. [48]The UK government should take the lead in fundraising for and developing such a programme. Another option, beyond current joint patrolling between ISAF and Kabul police, is for NATO troops to guard police trainers supplied by the EU or the OSCE as part of a field-based training program.

  3.40  Other areas of security sector reform, such as judicial restructuring and the rule of law, largely fall outside NATO's remit. Of course, military and police reforms will not be as effective without a functioning justice system and fair penal institutions. The rule of law is important at all levels of Afghan society. Where the law is not enforced, Afghans are likely to turn towards warlords, tribal chiefs, or whoever else can provide security. This will often be those who have the weapons and who already hold power at the local level, such as the Taliban. [49]


  4.1  A country that has endured 30 years of civil war and was a key breeding ground for Al Qaeda terrorists is not going to be turned around overnight. Much has been achieved in four years of coalition anti-terrorism operations and a shorter period of ISAF peace operations, but much more remains to be done. Afghanistan is still a long way from being able to survive without outside help. Many more years of engagement by the international community will be required before the country can be expected to run an effective government throughout its territory, and even then it will need foreign aid and investment for years to come.

  4.2  It is in the UK government and NATO's interest, and most importantly in the interest of Afghans, for peace operations in Afghanistan to succeed. This is more likely to happen if NATO remains focused on these operations instead of taking on a full-fledged combat and counter-insurgency programme.

7 October 2005

1   Miller, Laurel and Perito, Robert, "Establishing the Rule of Law in Afghanistan", United States Institute of Peace Special Report 117, March 2004. Back

2   O'Hanlon, Michael, and Kamp, Nina, "Afghanistan Index: Tracking Variables of Reconstruction and Security in Post-Taliban Afghanistan", The Brookings Institution, 15 September 2005, URL <au0,2><xu, p 2. Back

3   "UN Curbs Staff After Kabul Bomb; Taliban Vows More", Reuters via Khaleej Times, 29 September 2005. Back

4   Tarzi, Amin, "Afghan Demonstrations Test Warlords-Turned-Administrators", RFE/RL Reports, Vol 4, No 9, 11 March 2005. Back

5   O'Hanlon, Michael and Kamp, Nina, "Afghanistan Index", OpCit; 17,100 Afghans interviewed in 26 Afghan provinces and in Pakistan, "International Republican Institute Election Day Survey", 13 November 2004, URL <au0,2><xu Back

6   US GAO, "Afghanistan Security: Efforts to Establish Army and Police Have Made Progress, but Future Plans Need to be Better Defined", GAO-05-575, 30 June 2005. Back

7   Tyson, Ann Scott, "NATO Plans Afghan Presence", Washington Post, 2 June 2005, URL <au0,2><xu Back

8   Richter, Paul, "NATO Balking at Iraq Mission", Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2004. Back

9   "A PRT is a combination of international military and civilian personnel based in provincial areas of Afghanistan with the aim of extending the authority of the Afghan central government and helping to facilitate development and reconstruction, primarily by contributing to an improved security environment. PRTs also aim to support Afghan security sector reform-the demobilisation and disarmament of militias; building an accountable army and national police force under democratic control; stamping out the drugs trade; and building a legal system" (Afghanistan Group, FCO, "Afghanistan: Paper on UK PRT Experience", 20 January 2005). Back

10   Fiorenza, Nicholas, "NATO Seeks More Troops for ISAF in Afghanistan", Defense News, 8 November 2004, p 18. Back

11   The United Kingdom has said of the PRTs under its charge, that they "focus primarily on reconstruction and have limited roles in providing direct security for local Afghans and in working with Afghan army and police" (US GAO, "Afghanistan Security", OpCit). Back

12   "History of the International Security Assistance Force", NATO website, updated 14 September 2005. Back

13   Sinclair, Paul, "More Troops on the Way to Take on the Taliban: Reid Set to Send 4000 to Kabul", Daily Record, 1 October 2005. Back

14   "UK Backs Afghan Troop Expansion", BBC News, 1 October 2005. Back

15   Dempsey, Judy and Cloud, David S, "Europeans Balking at New Afghan Role, International Herald Tribune, 14 September 2005, p 1. Back

16   "No Troop Withdrawal Yet-Reid", icCroydon, 1 October 2005 and "UK Backs Afghan Troop Expansion", BBC News, 1 October 2005. Back

17   Nicola, Stefan, "Germany Extends Afghanistan Mandate", International Relations and Security Network 30 September 2005. Back

18   Williamson, Hugh, Financial Times via Yahoo! News, 29 September 2005. Back

19   Borders, Robert, "Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan: A Model for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development", Journal of Development and Social Transformation, Volume 1, November 2004, p 7. Back

20   Borders explains, "While military civil affairs units are comprised of soldiers, they are not combat troops in the traditional sense, nor are they trained as such. They have a unique skill set, or Military Occupational Specialty, designed to provide commanders in the field with resident technical capability and expertise on all matters related to civil affairs" (Borders, Robert, "Provincial Reconstruction", OpCit, p 8). Back

21   Headquarters, Department of the US Army, Peace Operations: Field Manual 100-23, 30 December 1994, as shown in "Information Operations: IO in A Peace Enforcement Environment", Newsletter No 99-2, February 1999, via Back

22   Lt Col Boltz, Donna G, "Information Technology and Peace Support Operations: Relationship for the New Millennium" Virtual Diplomacy, United States Institute of Peace, 22 July 2002. Back

23   UN Joint Logistics Centre, "Civil-Military Collaboration in Afghanistan", last updated 10 March, 2005. Back

24   Borders, Robert, "Provincial Reconstruction", OpCit, p 5. Back

25   Ibid p 7. Back

26   NGO workers have been the target of Taliban and Al Qaeda-related attacks, but it is unclear whether these attacks occur because these groups are often comprised of foreigners or as a result of suspicions of NGO collaboration with military troops. When troops were donning civilian clothes (a practice which has since been stopped), insurgents may have come to the conclusion that there was no distinction between NGO humanitarian workers and soldiers, which could have made NGO personnel more vulnerable (Borders, Robert, 2 Provincial Reconstruction", OpCit, pp 7-8). Back

27   ISAF has been deployed under the UN authorisation of Security Council Resolutions 1386, 1413, and 1444 as a peace enforcement mission and to assist in the maintenance of security so as to help the Afghan Transitional Authority (NATO, International Security Assistance Force, Frequently Asked Questions, 23 May 2005). Back

28   "The NATO Perspective," US News & World Report, 3 October 2005. Back

29   IbidBack

30   The Petersberg Tasks include peacekeeping, combat tasks related to crisis management, and humanitarian and rescue work. Back

31   Dobbins, James, "NATO Peacekeepers Need a Partner", International Herald Tribune, 20 September 2005. Back

32   UN Joint Logistics Centre, "Civil-Military Collaboration in Afghanistan", last updated 10 March, 2005. Back

33   These targets for troop strength and ANA reconstruction have been stated US goals (US GAO, "Afghanistan Security", OpCit.). Back

34   O'Hanlon, Michael and Kamp, Nina, "Afghanistan Index", OpCitBack

35   US GAO, "Afghanistan Security", OpCitBack

36   Dennys, Christian, "Disarmament, Demobilisation and Rearmament: The Effects of Disarmament in Afghanistan", Japan Afghan NGO Network Occasional Paper, 6 June 2005, p 7. Back

37   IbidBack

38   US GAO, "Afghanistan Security", OpCitBack

39   Miller, Laurel and Perito, Robert, "Establishing the Rule of Law in Afghanistan", United States Institute of Peace Special Report 117, March 2004. Back

40   IbidBack

41   US GAO, "Afghanistan Security", OpCitBack

42   Terakhelis, Shahabuddin, "Reforming Police Will Take Time", IWPR, e-Ariana, 7 June 2004. Back

43   US GAO, "Afghanistan Security", OpCitBack

44   Afghanistan Group, FCO, "Afghanistan: Paper on UK PRT Experience", 20 January 2005. Back

45   US GAO, "Afghanistan Security", OpCitBack

46   IbidBack

47   Miller, Laurel and Perito, Robert, "Establishing the Rule of Law in Afghanistan", OpCitBack

48   US GAO, "Afghanistan Security", OpCitBack

49   CSIS, "In the Balance: Measuring Progress in Afghanistan", July 2005. Back

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