War on Terrorism

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Time to Consolidate Afghanistan Gains, NATO Chief Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2010 – The U.S. annual review on Afghanistan and Pakistan released today demonstrates that the strategy driving the mission is sound, and with the resources in place to accomplish it, is making progress, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said today.

“Now we have to consolidate those gains and make them irreversible,” he said in a statement.

Acknowledging that the task is “challenging,” Rasmussen said NATO and its coalition partners are “determined to see it through.”

“In the years to come, we will keep up efforts to support the Afghan government as it extends its authority throughout the country,” he said. “We will continue to train Afghan forces so they can provide security for the Afghan people.”

Agreements made last month at NATO’s summit in Lisbon, Portugal, provide the roadmap for this effort, he said.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force is working to create conditions that will enable Afghan security forces to take the security lead across the country by the end of 2014. At that point, ISAF forces will move into a supporting role.

But the transition won’t signal an end to NATO’s commitment to Afghanistan or the region, Rasmussen emphasized.

“As the long-term partnership that [Afghan] President [Hamid] Karzai and I signed at Lisbon demonstrates, our commitment to Afghanistan will continue well beyond 2014,” he said. “NATO will also remain engaged with Pakistan, which is playing a critical role in bringing stability to the region.”

As NATO operates in Afghanistan under a U.N. mandate and at the invitation of the Afghan government, Rasmussen said, its members recognize the far-reaching impact of what happens in Afghanistan. “We are there because our own security depends upon it,” he said.

“That recognition continues to drive the alliance as it assesses accomplishments made and work still ahead, he said. “As we look back on 2010, we see that we have made hard-fought progress. In 2011, all NATO allies and their partners in ISAF will continue to work together to make Afghanistan -– and our own nations -- safer.”

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