Fifteen years after NATO took the lead on international security efforts in Afghanistan, the military alliance’s foreign ministers on Wednesday reaffirmed their commitment to stay the course despite mounting Afghan casualties and the slow pace of peace efforts.
At talks in Brussels, the ministers underlined their “steadfast commitment to ensuring long-term security and stability,” reaffirming that NATO’s mission in the insurgency-wracked country will last as long as conditions demand it.
NATO took the lead of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in 2003. It wound down combat operations in 2014 and began training and advising Afghan security forces so they could handle the country’s security needs. The work is carried out in a combat environment and remains dangerous.
U.S. forces, which entered Afghanistan in 2001 to oust the Taliban for harboring al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, now number around 15,000 and provide close support to Afghan forces and carry out counterterrorism operations.