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NATO in Afghanistan: A Test of the Transatlantic Alliance

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Congressional rept.

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The mission of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO in Afghanistan is a test of the alliances political will and military capabilities. Since the Washington Summit in 1999, the allies have sought to create a new NATO, capable of operating beyond the European theater to combat emerging threats such as terrorism and the proliferation of WMD. Afghanistan is NATOs first out-of-area mission beyond Europe. Its purpose is the stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan. The mission has proven difficult because it must take place while combat operations against Taliban insurgents continue. Recent assessments of the situation in Afghanistan point to a rise in the overall level of violence due to increased Taliban military operations and an increase in terrorist activities. U.N. Security Council resolutions govern NATOs responsibilities in Afghanistan. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force ISAF faces formidable obstacles shoring up a weak government in Kabul using military capabilities in a distant country with rugged terrain and rebuilding a country devastated by war and troubled by a resilient narcotics trade. NATOs mission statement lays out the essential elements of the task of stabilizing and rebuilding the country train the Afghan army, police, and judiciary support the government in counter-narcotics efforts develop a market infrastructure and suppress the Taliban. Since 2001, ISAF has proceeded in four stages to extend its area of responsibility over the whole of Afghanistan. Although the allies agree on ISAFs mission, they continue to differ on how to accomplish it. The Obama Administration has made the conflict a policy priority, has committed an additional 17,000 U.S. military forces, is seeking additional support from NATO allies, and is attempting to implement new, more effective strategies for addressing the conflict. U.S. leadership in Afghanistan may well affect NATOs cohesiveness, credibility, and its future.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Unconventional Warfare

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