International Security Assistance Force (10) (ISAF) is a NATO-led security and development mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001 as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement.
As of June 2008 its troops number around 53,700 from 26 NATO, nine partner and two non-NATO / non-partner countries, including contributions from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, other European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Turkey and Singapore.
ISAF was initially charged with securing Kabul and surrounding areas from the Taliban, al Qaeda and factional warlords, so as to allow for the establishment of the Afghan Transitional Administration headed by Hamid Karzai. In October 2003, the UN Security Council authorized the expansion of the ISAF mission throughout Afghanistan, and ISAF subsequently expanded the mission in four main stages over the whole of the country. Since 2006, ISAF has been involved in more intensive combat operations in southern Afghanistan, a tendency which continued in 2007 and 2008. Attacks on ISAF in other parts of Afghanistan are also mounting.
For almost two years, the ISAF mandate did not go beyond the boundaries of Kabul. According to General Norbert Van Heyst
, such a deployment would require at least an extra ten thousand soldiers. The responsibility for security throughout the whole of Afghanistan was to be given to the newly-constituted Afghan National Army
. However, on 13 October 2003, the Security Council voted unanimously to expand the ISAF mission beyond Kabul (Resolution 1510). Shortly thereafter, Canadian
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
said that Canadian soldiers (nearly half of the entire force at that time) would not deploy outside Kabul.
On 24 October 2003, the German Bundestag voted to send German troops to the region of Kunduz. Around 230 additional soldiers were deployed to that region, marking the first time that ISAF soldiers operated outside of Kabul.
After the Afghan National Assembly and Provincial Council elections in the fall of 2005, the Canadian base Camp Julien at Kabul closed, and remaining Canadian assets moved to Kandahar as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in preparation for a significant deployment in January 2006.
At 31 July 2006, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force assumed command of the south of the country, ISAF Stage 3, and by 5 October also of the east of Afghanistan, ISAF stage 4.
ISAF is mandated by the United Nations Security Council Resolutions , , , , , , , , and . The last of these extended the mandate of ISAF to 13 October 2008, albeit with an abstention from Russia due to the lack of clarity in the wording pertaining to the coalition Force's maritime interception component, which has not appeared in any of the Security Council's previous resolutions.
The mandates the different governments are giving to their forces can differ from country to country.
The initial ISAF headquarters was based on 3rd UK Mechanised Division, which was led at the time by Major General John McColl. Until ISAF expanded beyond Kabul, the Force consisted of a roughly division-level headquarters and one brigade covering this capital, the Kabul Multinational Brigade. The brigade was composed of three battle groups, and was in charge of the tactical command of deployed troops. ISAF headquarters serves as the operational control center of the mission. As the area of responsibility was increased, ISAF also took command of an increasing number of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), with the aim of improving security and to facilitate reconstruction outside the capital. The first nine PRTs (and lead nations) were based at Baghlan (Netherlands, then Hungary at October 2006), Chaghcharan (Lithuania), Farah (U.S.), Fayzabad (Germany), Herat (Italy), Kunduz (Germany), Mazari Sharif (UK, then Denmark/Sweden), Maymana (UK, then Norway), Qala-e Naw (Spain).
Throughout the four different regional stages of ISAF the number of teams began growing. The expansion of ISAF, during October 2006, to all provinces of the country brought the total number of teams to twenty-four (24). The teams are led by different members of the NATO-ISAF mission. Another new PRT at Wardak was installed in November 2006, which is led by Turkey. This brought the number to 25. The overall NATO-ISAF mission is led by the Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, at Brunssum, the Netherlands.
The main HQ at Afghanistan is located in the capital city of Kabul. There are five (5) Regional Command Centers, underneath them are the Provincial Reconstruction Teams:
- HQ ISAF at Kabul (Composite)
- Regional Command Capital (approx. strength: 5,800)
- Regional Command North (approx. 4,700)
- Regional Command West (approx. 2,600)
- Regional Command South (approx. 18,000)
- HQ in Kandahar, Kandahar province (Led by UK, soon to be under 6 Division)
- 4 PRTs in the South
- PRT TARIN KOWT in Uruzgan province (Netherlands and Australia)
- PRT LASHKAR GAH in Helmand province (UK, Denmark and Estonia)
- PRT KANDAHAR in Kandahar province (Canada)
- PRT QALAT in Zabul province (USA and Romania)
- Combined Task Force Aegis (March 2006 to August 2006) CTF Aegis was a multinational task force led by Canada in southeast Afghanistan. Contributing nations include the United Kingdom, the Netherlands (contributing Task Force Uruzgan), Estonia and the United States. TF Aegis was also known as Multinational Brigade - Regional Command South or MNB RC South. In August 2006, CTF Aegis transferred to the control of ISAF. Task Force Aegis included, as of May 2006:
- TF HELMAND (UK) – 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment - Helmand
- TF ORION (CDN) – 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Battlegroup - Kandahar
- TF KNIGHTHAWK (US) - 2-10 Aviation Regt, 10th Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division
- TF WARRIOR (US) – 2-4 Inf Battalion, 10th Mountain Division)- Qalat
- TF WHITESHARK (Romania) – 341st Inf Battalion, 34th Infantry Brigade - Qalat
- Task Force Uruzgan(Dutch) - Uruzgan
- Regional Command East (approx. 16,000)
WARSAW, January 9 (Reuters) - Poland has reached a preliminary agreement with NATO partners on expanding its role in Afghanistan by taking over command of an eastern province, Poland's defence minister said. So at the moment Poland is NOT leading a PRT, also not according to the official website of the NATO-ISAF.
The strength of the ISAF forces as of 31 May 2007. The numbers also reflect the situation in the country. The north and west are relatively calm, while ISAF and Afghan forces in the south and east are almost under daily attack.
Security and reconstruction
Since 2006 the insurgency of the Taliban has been intensifying, especially in the southern Pashtun
parts of the country, areas that were the Taliban's original power base in the Afghan Civil War
Since NATO-ISAF took over command of the south on 31 July 2006, British and Canadian ISAF soldiers in the provinces of Helmand and Kandahar have come under almost daily attack. Forces from other nations such as Australia, Denmark, Estonia and the Netherlands have seen combat. British commanders say the fighting for them is the fiercest since the Korean War, fifty years ago. BBC reporter Alistair Leithead, embedded with the British forces, called it in an article "Deployed to Afghanistan's hell"
Because of the security situation in the south, NATO-ISAF commanders have asked member countries to send more troops. On 19 October, for example, the Dutch government decided to send more troops, because of the many attacks by suspected Taliban on their Task Force Uruzgan, which makes it very difficult to complete the reconstruction work they came to accomplish.
ISAF and the illegal opium economy
Prior to October 2008, ISAF had only served an indirect role in fighting the illegal opium economy in Afghanistan through shared intelligence with the Afghan government, protection of Afghan poppy crop eradication units and helping in the coordination and the implementation of the country's counter narcotics policy. Dutch ISAF forces have, for example, used military force to protect eradication units that came under attack.
Crop eradication often affects the poorest farmers who have no economic alternatives to fall back on. Without alternatives, these farmers can no longer feed their families, causing anger, frustration and social protest. Thus, being associated with "counter productive" drug policy, the ISAF soldiers on the ground find it difficult to gain the support of the local population.
Though problematic for NATO, this indirect role has allowed NATO to avoid the opposition of the local population who depend on the poppy fields for their livelihood. In October 2008, NATO altered its position in an effort to curb the financing of insurgency by the Taliban. Drug laboratories, and drug traders became the targets, and not the poppy fields themselves.
In order to appease France, Italy and Germany, the deal involved the participation in an anti-drugs campaign only of willing NATO member countries, was to be temporary, and was to involve cooperation of the Afghans.
On 10 October 2008, during a news conference, after an informal meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in Budapest, Hungary, NATO Spokesman James Appathurai said
[...] with regard to counternarcotics, based on the request of the Afghan government, consistent with the appropriate UN Security Council Resolutions, under the existing operational plan, ISAF can act in concert with the Afghans against facilities and facilitators supporting the insurgency, subject to the authorization of respective nations. [...] The idea of a review is, indeed, envisioned for an upcoming meeting.
ISAF command rotated among different nations on a 6-month basis. However, there was tremendous difficulty securing new lead nations. To solve the problem, command was turned over indefinitely to NATO on 11 August 2003. This marked NATO's first deployment outside Europe or North America. That day, Nicholas Burns
, the U.S.
ambassador to NATO wrote in the Wall Street Journal
that the mandate of ISAF should be expanded beyond the capital Kabul. One option he suggested would be for NATO to participate in U.S.-led "Provincial Reconstruction Teams
" which were already active in trying to enforce security outside Kabul.
As of April 2007, 25 Provincial Reconstruction Teams are active in the country and under the command of different NATO nations.
The history of ISAF command is as follows:
- December 2001: Major-General John McColl, United Kingdom.
- June 2002: Major General Hilmi Akin Zorlu, Turkey. During this period, Turkish troops increased from about 100 to 1,300.
- 10 February 2003: Lieutenant General Norbert Van Heyst, on behalf of Germany and the Netherlands. His Deputy was Brigadier General Bertholee of Netherlands.
- 11 August 2003: The first ISAF-mission under the command of NATO, led by NATO Lieutenant General Goetz Gliemeroth, Germany, with Canadian Army Major General Andrew Leslie as his deputy. Canada had been originally slated to take over command of ISAF on 11 August.
- 9 February 2004: Lieutenant General Rick Hillier, Canada, with Major General Werner Korte of Germany as deputy. During this timeframe, Canada was the largest contributor to the ISAF force, contributing 2,000 troops.
- 7 August 2004: General Jean-Louis Py, commander of Eurocorps, a multinational rapid reaction force composed by units from France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Luxemburg. Canada reduces its forces to about 800 men.
- February 2005: General Ethem Erdagi, Turkey
- 5 August 2005: Italian general Mauro del Vecchio assumed command of the ISAF force in Afghanistan. During 2005 Italy commanded four multinational military operations: in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania.
- 4 May 2006: United Kingdom General David Richards assumed command of the ISAF IX force in Afghanistan. The mission is led by the Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps.
- 4 February 2007: American four-star general, Army Gen. Dan K. McNeill, took charge of NATO forces.
- 2 June 2008: American four-star general, Army Gen David D. McKiernan, took charge of NATO forces.
The command of this region is rotating among Turkey, France and Italy. At the moment, July 2008, Italy is the leading nation in this region. The headquarter is in Kabul.
The Regional Command North is led by Germany. The headquarter is located in Mazar-i-Sharif.
Italy is the leading nation of the Regional Command West, with its headquarter located in the town of Herat.
The command of the region is rotating among Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The headqarter is located in Kandahar.
- 28 February 2006: Canadian Brigadier-General David Fraser assumed Command of Regional Command South.
- 1 November 2006: Dutch Major-General Ton van Loon lead Regional Command South in Afghanistan for a six months period.
- 1 May 2007: British Major-General Jacko Page
- 1 February 2008: Canadian Major-General Marc Lessard took command for a nine-month period.
In November 2008, the Dutch Major-General Mart de Kruif is scheduled to take over command of this region.
The Regional Command East is led by the United States, Combined Joint Task Force - 101. The headquarter is located in Bagram. The commander is Major-General Jeffrey J. Schloesser. He is also the commander of the troops of the US-led coalition Operation Enduring Freedom.
All NATO members have contributed troops to the ISAF, as well as some other partner states of NATO. The numbers are based in part from the NATO; when more recent numbers are available they are given.
ISAF is also being backed by the 76,000 troops of the Afghan National Army and 30,200 Afghan policemen, who are described by the British Ministry of Defence as "fully equipped and trained". Other sources say especially the police units of Afghanistan are still poorly trained and equipped.
In June 2008, ISAF was made up of about 53,000 personnel from 43 different countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, 39 Asian and European countries, and all 26 NATO partners.
Summary of major troop contributions (over 500, 10 June 2008):
- US - 32,500 (23,550 - ISAF)
- UK - 8,530
- Germany - 3,370
- France 2,660
- Canada - 2,500
- Italy - 2,350
- Netherlands - 1,770
- Poland - 1,140
- Australia - 1,100
- Spain - 800
- Macedonia -140
- Turkey - 760
- Denmark - 750
- Norway - 580
- Romania - 570
- – 390 (as of September 2008). The mission is named BELU ISAF 15. Their main task is to provide security at Kabul International Airport, while detachments (KUNDUZ 16) assist in the northern PRTs of Kunduz and Mazari Sharif. Since September 2008 there are also four F-16s with about 140 support personnel deployed. They operate from Kandahar Airport. The Belgian Air Force will operate close together with the Dutch F-16 fighter jets already deployed there.
- – 460 (as of September 2008). In 2007 Bulgaria sent 200 more soldiers.
- – 2500 in Kandahar (as of September 2008). Canadian forces have been actively engaged in fighting the Taliban in the dangerous South and have suffered a high proportion of the allied casualties. The total number is expected to rise to 2700 by February 2009.
- – 490 troops involved in four locations, as of September 2008. The largest unit was deployed as a Provincial Reconstruction Team composed of 192 troops and 7 civilians in Lowgar Province, in place since 19 March 2008. Four BMP-2 IFVs are part of PRT Lowgar. Field Hospital at Kabul International Airport was deployed in March 2007 and consists of 81 medical and 13 NBC protection personel. 8 helicopter pilots and technicians are part of the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT). Also, 4 weather forecast specialists and 2 air trafic controllers are part of the Czech contingent deployed to Kabul International Airport. A third unit was sent to Afghanistan at the end of April 2007, and involves 35 members of the Czech Military Police Special Operations Group, who are attached to British forces in the Southern Helmand province. Fourth unit was deployed in July 2008 and is composed of 63 troops who are in charge of force protection at Dutch FOB Hadrain in Uruzgan Province.
- – 750 as of September 2008. The main part of the Danish military contribution consists of a battle group, which is currently operating with British forces in the Green Zone in the central part of the Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. The battle group consists of two mechanized infantry companies, a tank platoon and a flight of light reconnaissance helicopters. The battle group also consists of combat support and support units. In the nearby Kandahar Province troops from the Royal Danish Air Force takes part in manning the Kandahar Airfield Crisis Establishment (KAF CE), which is running the airfield. But Danish troops are also deployed to other parts of Afghanistan. In northern Afghanistan app. twenty troops are serving in the German led PRT in Feyzabad. In western Afghanistan ten troops are serving in the Lithuanian led PRT in Chagcharan. There is also a small contribution to HQ ISAF in Kabul and to the staffing of Kabul International Airport. In Helmand Danish troops are involved in the worst fighting their armed forces have undertaken since World War II. Denmark has lost fifteen soldiers in Afghanistan since 2002. Ten soldiers have been killed in the Helmand province since May 2007, three engineer soldiers were killed in Kabul in 2002 when trying to disarm an old Soviet missile.
- – 120 troops as of September 2008. The majority of Estonian troops have been deployed to PRT Lashkar-Gah in the southern province of Helmand, together with the forces of the United Kingdom and Denmark.
- – 2,725 as of September 2008. The French forces are deployed in Kabul under operation Pamir XVII, a recurrent five-month deployment that was last renewed in December 2007. Six French Dassault Mirage 2000D fighters and two C-135F refuelling aircraft were based at Dushanbe Airport in Dushanbe, Tajikistan but relocated to Kandahar on 26 September 2007; from there they conduct operations in support of ISAF. A French naval force, including the Charles de Gaulle (R 91) aircraft carrier, was also situated in the nearby Indian Ocean. An assortment of 200 naval, air force and army special forces personnel were withdrawn from Southern Afghanistan in early 2007, but around 50 remained to train Afghan forces. On 26 February 2008 it was reported that Paris was planning to deploy hundreds of fresh troops to eastern Afghanistan in an attempt to free up American soldiers, who would then be able to assist their Canadian neighbours in the flashpoint southern province of Kandahar. The deployment would mark a significant change in French policy in Afghanistan, as French soldiers have been highly constrained in their ability to engage the Taliban by caveats. This was further supported when on a visit to Great Britain, President Sarkozy said that he will use the NATO summit the week later to announce that he would be sending an additional thousand soldiers to Afghanistan. Not only has France sent these several hundred soldiers, France has also reaffirmed its commitment to NATO by re-joining its military structure which France left in 1966. French Prime Minster, François Fillon, has announced that 100 aditionnal troops with Aérospatiale Gazelle helicopters are to be sent in the country.
- – 3,220 as of September 2008, making Germany the third-largest troop contributor to ISAF. Germany leads Regional Command North, which is based in Mazari Sharif. The task of German forces is to assist the Afghan government with security and reconstruction in the four northern provinces of Kunduz, Takhar, Baghlan and Badakhshan. Germany leads the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in the provinces of Kunduz and Badakhshan. A number of German troops are stationed at a supply and staging base in Uzbekistan (these are included in the troop figure). Additionally, in April 2007, six Panavia Tornado reconnaissance jets, with 188 corresponding personnel (also included), were deployed to Mazar i Sharif in support of ISAF combat operations in the country. The mandate issued by the Bundestag does not allow the Bundeswehr to take part in combat operations against the Taliban insurgency in the south and east of Afghanistan, other than in exceptional circumstances. As of February 2008, 26 German soldiers and three policemen were killed in Afghanistan, 13 of which died in accidents.In June 2008, Germany agreed to send 1,000 additional forces to Afghanistan
- – 190 as of September 2008, some of whom were stationed at Kabul International Airport, while others manned various hospitals. Of the 190, around 150 were soldiers and 40 were air force personnel.
- – 200 as of September 2008. The Hungarian infantry unit was situated in Kabul, however, on 1 October 2006, Hungary requisitioned its forces and took over responsibility, from the Dutch, for the Provincial Reconstruction Team in the town of Pul-e Khumri, the capital of Baghlan province. Hungary expects to send 60 more troops over the next five months.
- – 8 as of September 2008. Consisting of a Mobile/Military Observation Team from the Icelandic Crisis Response Unit at the PRT in Ghor province and various personnel operating at Kabul International Airport.
- – 2,350 as of September 2008. Italian troops currently lead Regional Command West, and the PRT in Herat Province. Although the mandate issued by the Parliament of Italy does not allow Italian forces to take part in the battle against the Taliban insurgency in the south and east of Afghanistan, other than in exceptional circumstances, the current Italian Minister of Defense Ignazio La Russa has officially stated in July 2008 that such combat activities have indeed taken place over the last year in the Farah area.
- – 70 troops (as of September 2008) divided between Kabul and the PRTs in Mazar-i-Sharif and Meymaneh as of December 2007.
- – 200 as of September 2008. In June 2005, ISAF established in Chaghcharan, the capital of Ghor province, a Lithuanian PRT in which Danish, US and Icelandic troops also serve. Lithuanian special forces were sent south to help the British forces in their spring offensive.
- – 9 as of September 2008. Luxembourg is working together with Belgium in BELU ISAF 13. The Luxembourgian team is integrated in a Belgian platoon (two NCOs and seven soldiers) and provides one officer to the staff of the Force Protection group at KAIA.
- – 1,770 as of September 2008. The main Dutch contingent, Task Force Uruzgan, consists of 300 troops in Deh Rahwod and 1,100 troops in Tarin Kowt, at Kamp Holland (both in Orūzgān Province). The Air Task Force consists of a AH-64 Apache detachment (six helicopters) in Tarin Kowt and a CH-47 Chinook and F-16 Fighting Falcon detachment (six helicopters and jets) at Kandahar Airport. The command and liaison staff for Regional Command South are also located in Kandahar. An unknown number Korps Commandotroepen (special operations) forces operate in southern Afghanistan as well.
- – 420 as of September 2008. Norwegian ISAF forces are divided between Meymaneh in Faryab province where they lead a Provincial Reconstruction Team; and Mazar-e-Sharif, where they operate alongside Swedish forces. Four Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s operated from Kabul airport alongside Dutch F-16s in support of NATO ISAF forces in southern Afghanistan during 2006. Decisions have been made to reinforce the Norwegian contribution with 150 special forces, three Bell 412 helicopters armed with door-mounted machine guns and around 60 personnel from 339 Squadron - code named Norwegian Aeromedical Detachment (NAD) - to be based at Camp Meymaneh for 18 months from 1 April 2008, and 50 troops tasked with training Afghan soldiers. As of March 2008 the deployment of the special forces unit has not been confirmed due to internal disagreements in the Norwegian cabinet, with the Socialist Left Party opposed to the mission. After the attack on the Serena Hotel on 14 January 2008, the decision was made to send a team of military explosives experts to Kabul. Building new compounds for ANA has been one way the Norwegian ISAF contribution has supported the modernisation and expansion of the Afghan military. Three Norwegian soldiers have been killed in action.
- – 1,130 as of September 2008, most of whom operate in the south-eastern provinces of Ghazni and Paktika. An unknown number of Polish special forces (GROM) are deployed in the flashpoint southern province of Kandahar. Additionally, 400 soldiers and eight helicopters (four Mil Mi-8 and four Mil Mi-24) are to be sent in 2008. This means that the Polish contingent's size will increase to 1600 soldiers. On April 19, Poland took over Ghazni Province in east Afghanistan.
- – 40 as of September 2008. Portugal's involvement included an elite infantry company from the Rapid Reaction Brigade and a seven-man Tactical Air Control unit from the Portuguese Air Force. Portuguese troops were the Quick Reaction Force to the Regional Command (Center), they were rotated every six months for three years from 2005 to 2008. The Portuguese infantry company were garrisoned at Camp Warehouse in Kabul, but they operated in all Afghanistan like at Kandahar Airfield, and in the provinces of Farah and Herat. Additionally, the 2nd Commando Company, consisting of about 100 troops, was involved in search and destroy operations as of May 2007, together with Canadian, British and Afghan forces, in Operation Hoover in Kandahar Province. Previously, the Portuguese Air Force had one C-130H in Afghanistan (from July 2004 until July 2005), and a 37-man Air Force unit was responsible for Kabul International Airport from August 2005 until December 2005. In the present day the Portuguese Forces in Afghanistan are an Air Force detachment with one C-130H Hercules, aircrew, groundcrew, logistic, medic suport, and Force Protection forces.
- – 730 personnel as of September 2008, consisting of a battalion in Qalat. Additionally, a special forces squad (39 personnel) operates from an unknown location, and a training detachment of 47 personnel is in Kabul under the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom.
- – 70 as of September 2008. Multifunctional engineer company located in Kabul International Airport. Responsible for demining, building and repairing the airport. Slovakia's parliament agreed in June 2008 to send up to 176 additional troops in 2009.
- – 70 troops in Herat Province as of September 2008.
- – 780 as of September 2008. The collective Spanish military contribution to ISAF is known as ASPFOR XVII. Spanish forces are divided between Herat Province, where they form a quick-reaction force, an instructors team for Afghan National Army training and a Combat Search & Rescue unit; and Badghis Province, where they lead PRT Qala-i-Naw. The deployment involves infantry, a transport helicopters unit, and a logistics component. Spanish soldiers, like their German and French counterparts, are constrained by caveats. The mandate issued by the Spanish Parliament, does not allow Spanish forces to take part in the battle against the Taliban insurgency in the south and east of Afghanistan. Spain has rejected for three times to lead ISAF when for shift it corresponded to her.
- – 725 as of September 2008, at least 400 of whom are logistics and communications personnel. Turkey's responsibilities include providing security in Kabul (it currently leads the Kabul Command), as well as in the as the central-eastern province of Wardak Province, where it leads PRT Maidan Shahr. Turkey was once the third largest contingent within the ISAF.
- – 8,380 troops deployed in Helmand Province as of September 2008. On 26 February 2007 UK's Secretary of State for Defence authorized the deployment of an additional 1,400 troops which will bring British troop levels in Afghanistan to around 9,900. The Royal Air Force and Army Air Corps have a major presence in and around the country, including BAE Harrier II GR7 attack jets, C-130 Hercules cargo planes, CH-47 Chinook transport helicopters, Nimrod surveillance planes, Westland Lynx utility helicopters and Westland WAH-64 Apache attack helicopters. They are officially there to help train Afghan security forces, facilitate reconstruction, and provide security, but in 2006, the situation in the north of Helmand turned increasingly violent, with British troops involved in fierce firefights against the Taliban and anti-coalition militia, particularly in the towns of Sangin, Musa Qala, Kajaki and Nawzad.
- – 17,790 troops as of September 2008 Around 32,500 are currently deployed in Afghanistan: 23,550 under the command of NATO-ISAF as of December 2007 and the remaining 10,000 troops are under U.S. command to train the Afghan National Army and to hunt Taliban leaders and al-Qaeda members. There is also a sizeable civilian U.S. presence as part of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. In September 2008 President Bush announced that an additional 4000 troops would be deployed by February 2009.
- – 140, as of September 2008.
- – 1, as of September 2008. They are deployed in Kabul.
- – 45, as of September 2008. The country announced that it will up their commitment to 100 troops.
- - 5 to 10 senior military officers will be deployed to Afghanistan next year to reinforce the NATO troops, according to general Podzic
- – 200, as of September 2008.
- – 100, as of September 2008. They are stationed in Kabul and Mazari Sharif, but the bulk of Finnish troops serve in the PRT Mazari Sharif. In September 2008, The Finnish Foreign Minister called for more troops to be sent.
- – 1, as of September 2008. As of April 2008, Georgia is planning to deploy up to 150 troops to Afghanistan. Georgia has also offered NATO up to 500 total troops for Afghanistan.
- – 135, as of September 2008.
- – 7, as of September 2008.
- - 5 specialists in airport security was the contribution of Serbia in late 2006. In October 2003, Serbia and Montenegro announced that they were willing to send 1,000 combat troops and police officers to join the American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States accepted the offer and would function as an operational command for the troops. In December 2003, the number of troops to be sent to Afghanistan was at 700. The previous announcements were withdrawn after parliamentary elections.
- – 370, as of September 2008 Sweden plans to increase its commitment to Afghanistan to approximately 500 forces within a year. Sweden leads the PRT Mazari Sharif.
- – 3, as of September 2008. Two military doctors serve in the Lithuanian-led PRT Chagcharan, while one officer works at the ISAF HQ in Kabul.
Non-NATO / Non-EAPC nations
- – 1,080, as of September 2008. The core of the Australian contingent is based in the southern province of Uruzgan. Of these, an unspecified number are members of the Dutch-led PRT Tarin Kowt and are based at Kamp Holland; while 300 are members of a Special Operations Task Group (involving the Australian SAS), which provides security for the PRT. A further 111 soldiers are logistics, command and liaison personnel deployed to Kandahar and Kabul; while 75 personnel form the Air Force Control and Reporting Centre, situated at Kandahar International Airport, which is responsible for managing air traffic in Afghan airspace. Some Australian units are involved in both Operation Slipper, the Australian military's designation for its operations in Afghanistan, and its Iraqi equivalent, Operation Catalyst; including HMAS Arunta and two P-3 Orion reconnaissance aircraft operating in the Persian Gulf, a small number of soldiers in an anti-IED task force, and liaison personnel at Australia's Baghdad-based regional military HQ.
- - 0 Colombia plans to deploy around 100 forces in Spring 2009. These forces are expected to be demining experts.
- – 65, as of September 2008. Jordanian troops were deployed in December 2001 to establish a 50-bed medical facility in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif in the northern Balkh province. According the US Department of Defence, the hospital provides care for up to 650 local patients a day, and as of February 2006, over 500,000 people had been treated by the Jordanians.
- - 15 Mongolia has around 15 troops in Afghanistan training the New Afghan Army.
- – 155, as of September 2008. The majority of the New Zealanders (107) were deployed to Bamian Province in October 2007, where they lead the respective Provincial Reconstruction Team. Of the eight remaining personnel, two are instructors are attached to the UK's Afghan National Army Training Team; and six are liaison staff attached to the ISAF, UNAMA, and US-led CJTF-76 HQs, all three of which are located in Kabul. Additionally, twelve logistics personnel are located at Bagram Air Base, and a small number of New Zealand Police instructors have been involved in training local police forces in Bamian since March 2003. From late 2001 to November 2005, three 6-month rotations of between 40 and 65 Special Air Service troops were sent to southern Afghanistan.
- – 5, as of September 2008. In May 2007, a five-man medical team was sent to central Afghanistan to set up and run a dental clinic serving local citizens, while training Afghans in dentistry so that they could eventually assume responsibility.
- - 170 reported by the BBC in March 2008 serving in Tarin Kowt province.
- - On 23 February 2008, the Swiss Ministry of Defence announced that its small deployment had concluded two weeks prior. Two officers had worked alongside German troops in the PRT responsible for the northeastern Kunduz province. The stated reason for the withdrawal was the burden placed on other troops for their protection, which had begun to hinder operations. A total of 31 Swiss soldiers were sent to Afghanistan since the beginning of their country's participation in 2003.
- - South Korea's 210-strong contingent was withdrawn by 14 December 2007 due to the expiration of its mandate, despite American calls for its continued presence. The withdrawal had been one of the pledges made to the Taliban captors of 21 South Korean missionaries in July 2007, in return for the hostages' release. The deployment consisted of 60 medics comprising the 'Dongui' unit and 150 military engineers forming the 'Dasan' unit at Bagram Airbase, north of Kabul. They had been sent to Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003 respectively. One South Korean soldier, Yoon Jang-ho, was killed by a suicide bomber in February 2007..
On 30 June 2008, South-Korea did return as a member of the coalition, operating a small hospital near the airbase in Bagram with military and civilian personnel, according to a statement of the coalition This does not mean they are taking part in the ISAF-mission, but they are active in Afghanistan again as a partner of the international coalition.
Coalition casualties in Afghanistan
Civilian casualties in Afghanistan
. Includes also the civilian casualties since the arrival of NATO/ISAF.
- Authorized by the United Nations Security Council (Resolution 1386) on 20 December 2001, eighteen countries were contributing to the force, which was expecting to grow to 5,000 soldiers
- In February 2002 South Korea sent a medical contingent of 99 soldiers.
- Between February and July 2002, Portugal sent a sanitary team and an air team to ISAF.
- In November 2002 ISAF, consisting of 4,650 troops from over 20 countries, was led by Turkey. Around 1,200 German troops were serving in the force alongside 250 Dutch soldiers operating as part of a German-led battalion.
- In March 2003 ISAF was composed of 4,700 troops from 28 countries.
- On 7 June 2003 in Kabul, a taxi packed with explosives rammed a bus carrying German ISAF personnel, killing four soldiers and wounding 29 others; one Afghan bystander was killed and 10 Afghan bystanders were wounded. The 33 German soldiers, after months on duty in Kabul, were en route to the Kabul International Airport for their flight home to Germany. At the time, Germans soldiers made up more than 40% of ISAF.
- A study by Care International in the summer of 2003 reported that Kosovo had one peacekeeper to 48 people, East Timor one for every 86, while Afghanistan has just one for every 5,380 people.
- August 2003, NATO is taking command and co-ordination of ISAF. ISAF consisted of 5,000 troops from more than 30 countries. About 90% of the force were contributed by NATO nations. 1,950 were Canadian, by far the largest single contingent. However, other reports suggested that about 2,000 German troops were involved. Romania had about 400 troops at the time.
- 13 October 2003: Resolution 1510 passed by the UNSC opened the way to a wider role for ISAF to support the Government of Afghanistan beyond Kabul.
- As late as November 2003, the entire ISAF force had three helicopters.
- In May 2004, Turkey sent three helicopters and 56 flight and maintenance personnel to work in ISAF.
- In July 2004, Portugal sent 24 soldiers and one C-130 Hercules cargo plane to assist ISAF.
- In August 2004, Britain announced that 6 Royal Air Force Harrier GR7 jets from No. 3 Squadron would deploy to Afghanistan, marking the first time RAF ground-attack jets have been deployed to the country. They fully arrived in September.
- In September 2004, a Spanish battalion (about 800 men) arrived to provide the ISAF Quick Reaction Force, and an Italian Army battalion (up to 1,000 troops) arrived to provide the in-theatre Operational Reserve Force. With a force of 100, Georgia became the first Commonwealth of Independent States country to send an operational force to Afghanistan.
- Stage 1 (North) was completed at October 2004 under the Regional Command of Germany.
ISAF Stage 2
- In May 2005 ISAF Stage 2 took place, doubling the size of the territory ISAF was responsible for. The new area was the former US Regional Command West consisting of Badghis, Farah, Ghor, and Herat Provinces.
- September 2005: ISAF Stage 2 was completed under the Regional Command of Italy.
- On 27 January 2006, it was announced in the British Parliament that the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) would be replacing the U.S. troops in Helmand province as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. The British 16th Air Assault Brigade would be the core of the force in Helmand Province.
- In February 2006, the Netherlands decided to expand the troop contribution with an extra 1,400 soldiers.
- On 22 May 2006, A British Army WAH-64 Apache gunship fired a Hellfire missile to destroy a French armored jeep that had been disabled during a firefight with Taliban forces in North Helmand province the previous day, as it was decided that attempting to recover the vehicle would have been too dangerous. This is the first time UK Apaches have opened fire in a hostile theatre and this would be, in a fashion, the WAH-64's first "combat kill".
ISAF Stage 3
- 31 July 2006, Stage 3 was completed: The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force also assumed command in six provinces of the south. Led by Canada, 8,000 soldiers are now positioned there. The Regional Command Center is at Kandahar.
- With the Taliban regrouping, especially in its birthplace of Kandahar province bordering Pakistan, NATO launched its biggest offensive against the guerrillas at the weekend of 2 September and 3 September 2006 (Operation Medusa). NATO says it has killed more than 250 Taliban fighters, but the Taliban says NATO casualty estimates are exaggerated.
- On 7 September 2006, a British soldier was killed and six wounded when their patrol strayed into an unmarked minefield in Helmand, the major drug-growing province west of Kandahar.
- On 28 September 2006, the North Atlantic Council gave final authorization for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (NATO-ISAF) to expand its area of operations to 14 additional provinces in the east of Afghanistan, boosting NATO's presence and role in the country. With this further expansion, NATO-ISAF will assist the Government of Afghanistan in providing security throughout the whole of the country.
The expansion will see the NATO-ISAF controlling 32,000 troops from 37 countries, although the alliance is already struggling to find extra troops to hold off a spiraling Taliban-led insurgency in the volatile south.
ISAF Stage 4
- 5 October 2006: NATO has also taken charge of Afghanistan's eastern provinces (NATO-ISAF stage 4), which have been under the control of US forces since the Taliban were ousted five years ago. (10,000 coalition troops more moved under NATO command. 31,000 ISAF troops are now in Afghanistan. 8,000 US troops continue training and counter-terrorism separately).
- 21 October: The Canadian government is growing increasingly frustrated over the unwillingness of mainly European NATO members to deploy troops to help fight mounting Taliban resistance in the south.
- November: A study by the Joint Co-ordinating and Monitoring Board, made up of the Afghan government, its key foreign backers and the UN, suggests that more than 3,700 people have died so far in 2006. The majority of the dead appear to be insurgents, but it is estimated that 1,000 civilians have also been killed this year, along with members of the Afghan National Army, the NATO-led international security assistance force, and a separate US contingent of soldiers.
- 28-29 November 2006: NATO summit at Riga (Latvia). Combat curbs have been the most contentious issue at the two-day summit in Latvia, following tension over the reluctance of France, Germany, Spain and Italy to send their troops to southern Afghanistan. Countries agreeing to ease the restrictions on deployment against the Taliban insurgency include the Dutch, Romanians and smaller nations such as Slovenia and Luxembourg. France, Germany, Spain and Italy have said they will now send help to trouble zones outside their areas, but only in emergencies. Next to this the summit saw several countries offer additional troops and training teams. France agreed to send more helicopters and aircraft. NATO commanders say they believe they can move an extra 2,500 troops around the country now some smaller members have relaxed their mission conditions.
- Friday 15 December: ISAF is starting a new offensive, Operation Baaz Tsuka (Falcon's Summit), against the Taliban at the Panjaway Valley at the province Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.
- Sunday 4 February: US General Dan McNeill replaced British General David Richards as commander of the NATO forces in Afghanistan. McNeill, one of 11 U.S. four-star generals, commanded U.S. troops here in 2002. He is expected to place a heavier emphasis on fighting than peace deals, analysts say. Meanwhile observers and commanders are expecting a new Taliban "spring offensive", and NATO commanders are asking for more troops.
- Tuesday 6 March: NATO-ISAF launched Operation Achilles, an offensive to bring security to northern Helmand and set the conditions for meaningful development that will fundamentally improve the quality of life for Afghans in the area. The operation will eventually involve more than 4,500 Nato troops and nearly 1,000 Afghan soldiers in Helmand province, according to the alliance.
It focuses on improving security in areas where Taliban extremists, narco-traffickers and other elements are trying to destabilize the Government of Afghanistan and to intend to empower village elders.
The overarching purpose is to assist the government to improve its ability to begin reconstruction and economic development in the area. Strategically, the goal is also to enable the government to begin the Kajaki hydro-energy project.
NATO ISAF Medal
This medal may also be awarded with the "ISAF" clasp for service in Afghanistan
, as well as the "NTM-I" clasp for service in Iraq
For U.S. Forces the eligibility for the Non-Article 5 Medal for service with the ISAF are those who are members of units or staffs as set out in the Joint Operations Area taking part in operations in Afghanistan. The area of eligibility is delineated by the political boundaries of the International Security and Assistance Force. The service must be 30 days either continuous or accumulated, from 31 July 2006 to a date to be determined.
- Sean M. Maloney, Enduring The Freedom: A Rogue Historian In Afghanistan.(Dulles: Potomac Books, Incorporated, 2005)