NEWS | May 14, 2015

NATO announces transition to civilian-led mission in Afghanistan

By By John Redfield, U.S. Central Command Public Affairs

ANTALYA, TURKEY, May 14, 2015 – At the end of the current Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, NATO’s presence in the country will transition to an organization led by civilians but including military personnel, it was announced here Wednesday.

"Today we took a major decision which shows that we stay committed to Afghanistan,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, following a meeting of foreign ministers of NATO and partner countries contributing to the current mission in Afghanistan. “Our future presence will be led by civilians. It will have a light footprint. But it will have a military component."

NATO's civilian and military authorities are expected to develop a plan for this continued presence by later this year.

“The secretary general tasked NATO officials to begin plans for this new mission immediately,” said U.S. Army Gen. John Campbell, the Resolute Support commander. “Over the next several months I will be working closely with our Resolute Support allies and partners, U.S. officials, and higher headquarters through both my U.S. and NATO chains-of-command, and of course Afghan military and civilian leaders, to determine both the force structure and functions for this new mission. This is great news for the Afghan people, and I am encouraged by the support NATO and our allies and partners have shown for Afghanistan by agreeing to support this new enhanced enduring partnership mission.”

Stoltenberg said the aim of the new organization "will be to advise and instruct the Afghan security institutions, to help them become self-sufficient, and to build on what we have achieved so far, as part of the broader international effort."

Resolute Support began in January, transitioning from NATO's previous International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, mission which began in 2003. At its height, ISAF numbered about 130,000 troops with representatives from 51 NATO and partner nations. Currently there are about 13,000 troops from 41 nations.

During the meeting, foreign ministers and partners, including representatives from the United Nations, the European Union, Japan and South Korea, discussed the continued progress of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, who NATO said is exerting full security responsibility across the country.