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NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan



Thirteen years after its creation through the signing of the Bonn Agreement in Germany, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) concluded operations in an event transitioning to the new, NATO-led Resolute Support mission (NATO News, 28 December 2014). 

"NATO launched its non-combat RS Mission on January 1, 2015, following the conclusion of the previous NATO-led combat mission of ISAF, and the assumption of full security responsibility by the ANDSF [Afghan National Defense and Security Forces]. The legal framework for the NATO presence in Afghanistan is provided by a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which entered into force on January 1, 2015. The SOFA prescribes the terms and conditions under which NATO forces will be deployed in Afghanistan." (Source: Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan, US Department of Defense, June 2016, page 9)

During a press conference after the allied foreign ministers meeting in the Turkish town of Antalya on Wednesday 13 May 2015, with the partner countries in Afghanistan and the Afghan foreign minister, Salahuddin Rabbani, NATO decided to launch a civilian advisory mission in Afghanistan after the end of the military mission Resolute Support, which began in January 2015 and which runs until end December 2016: “We agreed that we will maintain a presence in Afghanistan even after the end of our current mission, Resolute Support”, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. (NATO News, 13 May 2015).

On 1 December 2015, NATO Foreign Ministers agreed a plan to sustain the NATO training mission in Afghanistan during 2016 and started work to secure funding for Afghan national security forces until the end of 2020.(Source: Foreign Ministers agree to sustain NATO’s presence in Afghanistan, launch funding for Afghan forces, 1 Dec 2015)

During the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, the Heads of State and Government of Afghanistan and Allies and their Resolute Support Operational Partners issued a declaration: they committed to sustain the Resolute Support mission beyond 2016, to continue national contributions to the financial sustainment of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces and to strengthen and enhance the Enduring Partnership between NATO and Afghanistan, established at the 2010 Lisbon Summit. (Warsaw Summit Declaration on Afghanistan, 9 July 2016).

Previous NATO Summits' declarations related to Afghanistan:

At the European Union-hosted Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated:"[...] without security there can be no lasting development, and without development there can be no lasting security". (Doorstep Statement, 5 October 2016).

During the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs in December 2016, Allies and partners decided to continue to support Afghanistan through the Resolute Support Mission and through funding, while the Afghan government would remain committed to reform. (Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council with Resolute Support operational partner nations, 7 December 2016)

On 19 May 2017, NATO Allies and partners reaffirmed their Warsaw commitments to sustainable security in Afghanistan and to their strong partnership with Afghanistan.

NATO Defence Ministers met on 29 June 2017. Ahead of a meeting of all nations contributing to NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, Secretary General Stoltenberg announced: "We will discuss the future of NATO’s presence in the country [Afghanistan]. Our military authorities have requested a few thousand more troops for the Mission in Afghanistan and today, I can confirm that we will increase our presence in Afghanistan.  Fifteen nations have already pledged additional contributions to Resolute Support Mission." (Doorstep statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead off meetings of NATO Defence Ministers, 29 June 2017).

At the end of October 2017, NATO’s Senior Advisor on Children and Armed Conflict – Resolute Support, Mr. Swen Dornig, participated in a UN Security Council debate on Children in Armed Conflict.[...] Mr. Dornig highlighted recent measures taken by NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan to train, assist and advise Afghan National Defence and Security Forces to better protect children from the impact of armed conflict. (NATO participates in UN Security Council debates on Women, Peace and Security and Children in Armed Conflict, 31 October 2017)

The NATO secretary general praised the bravery, determination and increasing capability of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces at a press conference in Brussels on 7 November 2017 (High praise for bravery, determination of Afghan forces, 8 November 2017).

Recommended Reading on NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan

NATO pages:

A selection of external resources:

Resolute Support Mission 'Placemat' - Key Facts & Figures (December 2018)

Approximate numbers of forces provided to Resolute Support by Allied and other contributing nations, and countries responsible for RSM Train, Advise and Assist Commands.

Resolute Support Twitter Account