|Up-to-the-minute perspectives on defence, security and peace
issues from and for policy makers and opinion leaders.
By Rt Hon John Hutton MP, UK Secretary of State for Defence
There are currently 41 countries contributing to the NATO ISAF mission contributing around 50,000 troops. These troops are based across the five main Regional Command areas with the majority based in Regional Commands South and East.
Regardless of their current intentions and political will, each nation has its own parliamentary and political processes to adhere to and we must respect this. It would be inappropriate for me to speculate on any future commitments from other nations.
What I can say is that recent announcements from a number of our ISAF partners reaffirm, and in some cases, increase, their commitment to this mission. This has reassured me that the United Kingdom is not the only nation committed to stay in Afghanistan until the job is done.
The United States, by far the biggest contributor has committed to deploy an additional Battalion and Brigade Combat Team to Afghanistan. Germany has recently renewed its mandate and increased the ceiling of its commitment to 4,500 troops. The Government of France have approved the continued presence of the French military contingent. The Canadians are to enhance the air support capability in Kandahar early next year. And the Estonians have extended their mission to Afghanistan increasing their commitment from 1 50 to 1 70 troops.
There are other ways in which partner nations are contributing to the NATO mission.
For example, as well as their contribution of approximately 400 troops, the Czech
Republic has donated 12 helicopter airframes to the Afghan National Army Air
Corps. 6 of these are now in Afghanistan and a further 6 have been refurbished and
are awaiting transportation.
The NATO mission in Afghanistan is more than just about how many troops we have on the ground. It is about the international community supporting the Government of Afghanistan in building peace and resilience. This involves a significant military commitment but there is also,a considerable civilian commitment.
Much of this work is being delivered by the 26 Provincial Reconstruction Teams located across the country, led by nations such as Australia, The Netherlands, Romania, Italy, Spain, Lithuania, Sweden, Hungary, Norway, New Zealand and Turkey. These teams consist of civilian and military specialists and they work to deliver aid and reconstruction projects as well as provide security for these activities.
We should also bear in mind the significant commitment from the 65,000-strong Afghan National Army, which is being built almost from scratch. In only a relatively short period of time we have seen Afghan troops begin to conduct independent operations with minimal ISAF support.
Taken from a letter to Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, Chairman, Defence Select Committee