NATO Secretary General: Afghanistan Mission Exemplifies Future Alliance Operations
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg delivers a speech at Lancaster House, June 21, 2018.
25 Jun 2018
By: Cmdr. Lesley Lykins, Resolute Support Public Affairs
KABUL, Afghanistan – NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, pointed to the ongoing NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan as a viable concept for future NATO Alliance operations, during a speech at Lancaster House in London, June 21.
"NATO has totally transformed our presence in Afghanistan from a big combat operation with more than 100,000 to now 16,000 troops conducting training, assisting and advising,” said Stoltenberg. "I think this concept, in the long run, is much more viable than NATO engaging in big combat operations, which we have to do sometimes. But the best weapon we have is to train local forces, enabling them to fight terrorism themselves.”
Stoltenberg praised the capabilities of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), describing the current ceasefire as encouraging and expressed hope the country will build on the cessation’s momentum for a dialogue, reconciliation process, and lasting peace.
"The other encouraging thing we have seen is the peace initiative from President Ghani, and the fact that for the first time, we have seen at least a ceasefire that to some extent worked,” said Stoltenberg. "We have seen the first ceasefire ever in the conflict in Afghanistan. So, we have to build on that.”
Stoltenberg’s remarks came approximately three weeks before the next NATO summit, scheduled in Brussels, Belgium, July 11-12, during which he expects NATO Allies and partners to extend their funding for the Afghan forces beyond 2020 and reaffirm the conditions based approach underpinning the NATO-led Resolute Support mission.
"The Taliban has to understand they will never win on the battlefield,” said Stoltenberg. "So, as long as we convey and show by staying that they will not win on the battlefield, we will train, assist and advise and fund the Afghan forces. Then they will at some stage understand that they will achieve more around a negotiating table than on the battlefield.”
Established in 2015, Resolute Support (RS) is a NATO-led, non-combat mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), who assumed nationwide responsibility for Afghanistan’s security following the conclusion of the previous NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission. Its purpose is to help the Afghan security forces and institutions develop the capacity to defend Afghanistan and protect its citizens in a sustainable manner.