ISAF Operational Challenges in Afghanistan


NATO member states were summoned to the Latvian capital of Riga for a summit from 28 to 29 November 2006, the purpose of which, among other things, was to assess the ongoing transformation processes that the organization is currently undergoing. According to the agenda outline for the summit, Heads of state and government will focus on the upgrading of NATO’s military capabilities to ensure that they meet the challenges of today’s versatile security environment. (NATO summit Agenda Outline[1]). However, the developments over the summer in Afghanistan, especially in the southern provinces of Kandahar, Oruzgan and Helmand, changed both the summit agenda and the focus of the international media. The issue now was no longer the future development of NATO so much as the issue of genuine support to the mission and to NATO’s operational capacity to overcome the difficult tasks the alliance currently faces in Afghanistan.

The issue of NATO’s operational capacity in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan manifested itself in two concrete areas: national caveats, and the shortfall in forces available. Concern over caveats or ‘national red cards’ on the use of troops developed over the summer when the mission in southern Afghanistan met with tough resistance on the part of the Taliban. NATO’s Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer,on a number of occasions described the problem in such terms as the following: “The caveats are poison…. They significantly reduce the amount of forces a commander really has at his disposal” (Herald Tribune), and he had little success in trying to lift the restrictions. The other topic, concerning the shortfall in forces, is another immense problem: ISAF has only 85% of the troops it requested to fulfill the mission.[2] Over the summer, NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Operations, General James Jones, has highlighted the concern: I continue to insist we need the additional 15 percent…This is about the importance of staying the course and sending a very strong message to Afghans that we are with them for the long-term because their security is our security”, (Reuters), but to little effect.

A third item that has also been on the agenda is the necessity to engage and cooperate with the civilian aspect of a post-conflict environment in which the strategic ‘end state’ has been reached. Denmark has taken a leading role in developing this expertise within NATO and ensuring it is on the summit agenda.[3] NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation, General Lance Smith describes this as follows: “Military force alone will not bring long-term peace and prosperity.  It requires a coordinated team effort and CIMIC [Civil Military Cooperation] is the commander’s direct interface with key civil leaders” (NATO News Release). In Afghanistan, this work is primarily centred on the concept of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).

The argument of this article is that the political leadership of NATO, the North Atlantic Council (NAC) representing the national politicians, needs to decide whether or not it is prepared to back up the international political aspirations of the organisation with actual national commitments to meet these aspirations. The focus of the article will be entirely on the ISAF mission and the operational challenges mentioned above, which are hampering the full efficiency of the mission.

The following analysis is based primarily on interviews conducted in Afghanistan (Kabul, Kandahar and Feyzabad) from 20 September to 4 October 2006. The informants interviewed represented different levels within a number of institutions and organisations, including, among others, Danish Development Advisors, UNAMA[4] Military Advisors, representatives of ISAF headquarters in Kabul, representatives of ISAF Regional Command South, Danish personnel assigned to UK Task Force Helmand, US Military Advisors to the Afghan National Army, civilian and military representatives of PRT Feyzabad, and representatives of the Badakhshan provincial authorities.

The analysis is structured and focused in accordance with certain fundamental principles of NATO’s Peace Support Operations (PSO).[5] The fundamentals on the operational level, on which this article will be focusing, areUnity of Command, Credibility, and Promotion of Cooperation and Consent.


Unity of Command

Unity of Command is a non-negotiable principle within NATO. NATO principles place a lot of emphasis on this criterion because of its tendency to restrain when it is not applied. With Unity of Command, clear command and control authority is granted so that the authority, roles and relationships involved in accomplishing an assigned task are clear and unrestricted. This enables the commanding officer to lead his forces with free maneuverability in order to counter any situation that might develop in the area of operations. The lack of a Unity of Command is often reflected in the national restrictions imposed on the use of different forces in operations. National restrictions, also called caveats, are written restrictions formulated by the particular country deploying the particular force and are mainly intended to limit how the country’s military contingent may be used. A variety of national caveats have been applied in NATO missions conducted in the Balkans and in Afghanistan, ranging from restrictions in nighttime operations, combat operations, permitted operational range from the base to restrictions on the use of helicopters, so the problem is not new.

During my field trip to Afghanistan, it quickly became clear that national caveats were one of the single most difficult problems for ISAF and for the ability of the ISAF commander (COMISAF) to maneuver his troops, which actually reduced the number of troops at disposal. The problem became particularly acute with the ISAF Stage III enlargement of 31 July 2006 into southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban were still going strong. ISAF therefore needed a firm approach in order to counter the threat, – an approach threatened with being undermined by “tons of caveats”.[6]

For a peace support operation to move forward and adapt to an ever-changing conflict or post-conflict environment, it needs to be flexible. Flexibility refers to the individual commander’s ability to maximize the forces under his control. NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Operations, General James Jones calls national caveats on the use of various military forces in Afghanistan “NATO’s operational cancer” and “an impediment to success”(YaleGlobal), for example, when troops are deployed to Afghanistan with restrictions on their engagement in fighting. In an effort to map the numerous restrictions that have been drawn up, NATO officials came up with 71 different caveats, which NATO commanders need to take into consideration when planning an operation.

During interviews conducted at ISAF HQ and the HQ of Regional Command South in Kandahar, the problem clearly emerged. One obstacle is the caveats that have been written down by national parties, which have to betaken into account when planning an operation. However, the extent of the problem goes beyond the written caveats to include also an unknown number of non-written restrictions. Preferably, if caveats are nationally formulated, they should be put down on paper before the force is deployed to the mission area; this enables the mission commander to plan and consider the optimal use of the force. Currently in Afghanistan, however, the real extent of caveats is indeterminate because of a number of fresh caveats that are only made known when a unit seeks clearance for operational use back in the national capital. These ‘ad-hoc’ extensions to existing national caveats hamper the effectiveness of ISAF operations and the likelihood of operational success in the provinces. The ISAF commanders lose the initiative, with a reduced possibility of success, and the insurgents, who know that caveats exist, use them to their advantage.

When NATO took over command of ISAF on 11 August 2003, the area of operations was Kabul and its surroundings. ISAF soon expanded into the northern and western parts of Afghanistan, and more forces were deployed to the country. During these expansions, the issue of national caveats was not of great concern, mainly because the situation in the ISAF area of operations was relatively calm and no major combat operations were being conducted. By autumn 2005, NATO had started to gather troops for the Stage III ISAF enlargement, which was to cover the six provinces in southern Afghanistan. However, the convening of forces for Stage III proved to be difficult because of the unstable security situation in this part of the country. A number of NATO allies had second thoughts about deploying troops to an area where the possibility of actual combat was overwhelmingly real. Canada and Britain decided relatively quickly to commit troops to the enlargement, and the Netherlands followed after an extensive parliament debate.[7] Today, after the implementation of Stage III, experience shows that Unity of Command regarding maneuverability has not been established within ISAF. The number of written and non-written national caveats drawn up by NATO capitals is so large that effective operations have been hard to carry out.[8]

The clearest example of the problem was illustrated during Operation Medusa,[9] conducted in September 2006 by ISAF Regional Command South in the Panjwayi and Zhari districts of Kandahar Province. In planning the operation, Regional Command South considered that it needed support from other regional commands, especially CIMIC (Civil Military Cooperation) and EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) capacities.[10] ISAF HQ was requested to identify units to support the operation. When the research team visited Kandahar after Operation Medusa had been finalised, the requested support had still not been identified. ISAF HQ had requested a French CIMIC team stationed at the Regional Command Centre to go to Kandahar, but the request had been turned down because of French restrictions allowing the unit only to operate within the area of Regional Command Centre. ISAF HQ then turned to the other regional commands, but without success.[11]

Other requests to use different nations’ combat troops in support of operations around Afghanistan have been declined because of the web of written and non-written national caveats. In particular, restrictions on the use of German troops in other areas of operations than in the north have been a topic of much national and international discussion. In Regional Command North the German troops are restricted to operations within the PRTs located there. In PRT Feyzabad, which has German, Danish and Czech troops, the Danish troops are doing more than 50% of all patrolling,[12] primarily because of German security restrictions on movements outside the camp and their restrictive Rules of Engagement.[13] Also, in Regional Command West requests from ISAF HQ for troops to be sent into the southern Nimruz province have been turned down because of caveats, with the consequence that ISAF HQ only has vague information on the situation in the province.[14]

At the overall level, the commander of ISAF requests as a minimum the designation of an operational reserve, a Theatre Task Force, within the current force – a force with a limited number of caveats. The operational reserve, consisting of CIMIC, EOD, combat troops, logistics etc., once designated, should be on call to reinforce other units engaged in operations in the respective regional commands. This has been seen, among other cases, in the NATO KFOR (Kosovo Force), where units rotate in readiness to be sent to reinforce other units engaged in operations elsewhere than in Kosovo if needed. The operational reserve could, for instance, consist of troops on call from the different regional commands. If Regional Command South needs units to replace its own units because of the latter’s commitment to operations, the operational reserve could be called in. The crucial point is, of course, that the operational reserve should be ready and not need to be ‘released’ by its national government first.

In sum, there can be many reasons for NATO capitals to impose restrictions on the use of the forces deployed in Afghanistan. Some of the caveats exist because of a lack of equipment and training, but they are also frequently drawn up for domestic political reasons, which restrict the effective use of force by the commander in the area of operations. The mere deployment for forces to an operation is hardly ever sufficient to create stability in a complex operation like the ISAF mission. A force needs to be deployed as a genuine addition and support to the whole operation, not just as a political courtesy. In the operations in southern Afghanistan, the consequence was and still is that there is virtually no flexibility in countering new threats when a force is already engaged in operations. It is difficult to seize the operational initiative when the maze of caveats is becoming ever more unclear, as operations increase in complexity.



Credibility has a variety of meanings and can be defined differently by all the parties to a conflict[15]. If the local government, the mission is to support, or the local population do not regard the mission as credible, domestic support will crumble. By credibility is meant the force’s ability to carry out its mandate. Overall, ISAF seems to enjoy a great deal of credibility with the Afghan Government and the majority of the local population in respect of its ability to carry out its tasks, especially the case in the northern, western and central parts of Afghanistan. In the southern and eastern parts of the country, however, the local population seems to be waiting to decide whom to support - the insurgency, or ISAF and the government. The doubt lies in the credibility of ISAF to carry out its mandate: who is the strongest actor, and who can create the security guarantees the population needs?

The majority of the local population, like the Afghan government, see ISAF as a good and solid contributor to the peace process in Afghanistan. They identify ISAF with development, security and stability, as an important tool for turning Afghanistan into a sustainable state. However, with this perception comes high expectations on ISAF in relation to delivering the goals laid down. As in most post-conflict situations involving a large number of international military and civilian personnel, the expectations of the local population regarding the prospects for a new beginning are rarely in accordance with reality. In Afghanistan, optimism towards a stable and prosperous future has been particularly high because of the long period of conflict up to the present and because of the promises of a large international involvement. Today the local population and the Afghan government have many unfulfilled expectations, which may backfire on the popularity of ISAF if they are not delivered.[16] The Afghan people are waiting for ISAF to bring them security, stability and development. ISAF has brought security and some stability and development to large parts of the country, but not enough to satisfy the expectations of the local population.

In the south of the country, ISAF has been trying to create a stable security situation since the execution of Stage III, but it is faced by a determined enemy, primarily manifested in the Taliban. The fighting has shown that the Taliban and ISAF have almost identical center of gravity, in that they are both trying the win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the local population. They both know that the key to success rests in the support of the people, which only can be won through a credible effort. History shows that Afghans back those who are winning, and it is still not clear who they are in Afghanistan.

The fighting in the south has also shown that ISAF has some immense resource capacity neglects if it is to be a credible provider of security and later stability. When interviewing high-level staff at ISAF HQ and Regional Command South, the resource capacity problem was often seen to lie primarily in the lack of combat troops on the ground and in mobility. As one informant stated during an interview, “We need troops, assets, aircraft and mobility”.[17] At the time of the field trip, ISAF were only present in four out of six provinces included in Stage III, and with no immediate prospects of deploying troops to the last two provinces. The consequences of having too few troops in the southern region are many: first ISAF has a hard time providing the promised security; secondly it cannot implement sufficient development through the PRTs; thirdly it is spread too thin trying to solve the numerous different tasks; fourthly it has to rely heavily on the use of the Afghan national security forces, thereby extorting them; and finally, as consequence ISAF is not yet seen as a credible provider of security, stability and development in southern Afghanistan.

The problem of a shortage of troops is illustrated by Operation Medusa. Regional Command South had difficulties assembling the required troops for the operation and had to bring in, among others, troops engaged in other vital security tasks in the area at that time. When the operation was launched, Regional Command South had only a very limited number of troops left to deal with any other situations that might arise, a situation that favored the Taliban in other parts of Kandahar and Helmand Provinces. Also, the large-scale inclusion of national forces in operations in the south has had negative consequences for the recruitment and endurance of especially the Afghan National Army (ANA). When ISAF is overstretched, the national forces have to be included on tougher and longer tasks, with the result that the ANA and Afghan National Police (ANP) are becoming weaker because of attrition. As mentioned many times during my stay in Afghanistan, it is hard for ISAF to be flexible and proactive when the level of troops committed to ISAF is far less that the military assessment suggests are required.

In sum, in the broad perspective ISAF seems to be regarded as a credible implementer of security, stability and development in the northern, western and central parts of Afghanistan. In these areas the security situation is relatively stable, and small- to large-scale development projects are being implemented frequently. However, in the eastern and especially the southern parts of Afghanistan the security situation is not satisfactory for the local population, and even small-scale development projects have not been implemented to a degree such as to show the local population that ISAF and thus the Afghan government are creditable partners and should therefore be trusted and supported. ISAF’s low credibility rate is primarily manifested in the fact that it has too few men to counter the immense security, stability and development challenges of southern Afghanistan. ISAF only has enough troops to hold the Taliban back, not to commence large-scale initiatives to create credible stability and development. The consequence, among others, is that the Afghan national security forces and ISAF itself are being worn down, and that the operational effect in many instances is far less than planned. In the end, winning the support of the local population – the ‘hearts and minds’ campaign – will be delayed because of the low numbers of combat troops and consequently low operational manoeuvrability and flexibility.


Promotion of Cooperation and Consent

The topic of the promotion of cooperation and consent will be analysed with reference to a new concept developed during the initial period of the operation in Afghanistan: PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Teams). Cooperation and consent may include a variety of initiatives, such as facilitating meetings with local authorities, encouraging civilian–military cooperation, assisting or establishing development projects etc. In Afghanistan PRT was originally developed by the US-led coalition of the time, its purpose being to enhance security and visibility in the regions and provinces of Afghanistan. The concept developed steadily, and today 25 PRTs are operational across the country.[18]

With the rapid fall of the Taliban government, the US-led coalition had to sustain this positive development across Afghanistan by deploying troops into the individual provinces. This was important because of the power vacuums that might have been created with the collapse of the official structures. The fear was that warlords and mid-level commanders would fill the vacuum in these areas and undermining the creation of a new Afghan state. However, it rapidly became obvious that the number of troops required to create security and fill the security vacuum would not be committed to the operation (Thruelsen 2006: 13-14, 31-35). The US-led coalition therefore had to think up alternatives to a heavy troop presence. As a result, the US developed the concept of Joint Regional Teams[19] to build small military bases in the provinces, thus extending cooperation and content with the local authorities and supporting the reform of the security sector.[20] The scheme was hastily drawn up, with the consequence that clear guidelines to implement it were not provided, thus leading the individual team commanders to implement it in accordance with their individual preferences. The concept behind the scheme therefore became quite diffuse, leading the Afghan authorities and the international NGO community to raise massive criticisms of it, especially as the variety of approaches to implementation was creating expectations among the locals that were hard to realise (Jakobsen 2005: 17-20).

To counter this criticism from the NGO community and the Afghan government, in 2003 the concept was renamed Provincial Reconstruction Teams. The new concept was to focus less on coordinating reconstruction and development efforts and more on supporting security sector reform and providing a visible security presence in the provinces (Jakobsen 2005: 18-19). Under the Stage III and IV expansions of ISAF in the summer and autumn of 2006, ISAF has deployed PRTs across the whole country.

Today most NATO countries are involved in PRTs in Afghanistan. Different nations have undertaken to lead individual PRTs,[21] with other nations supporting individual tasks. PRTs differ in size, but normally between one and four hundred people are involved in them. The majority of the personnel are military, but there are also development advisors, police officers and other civilians carrying out particular functions. The PRT structure can typically be divided into two pillars, one military, the other civilian. The two pillars normally have no command over each other, but rely solely on cooperation and good relations (see figure below). 



The official PRT mission statement reads as follows: “Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) will assist The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to extend its authority, in order to facilitate the development of a stable and secure environment in the identified area of operations, and enable Security Sector Reform (SSR) and reconstruction efforts”  (ISAF PRT Handbook 2006: 2). The three overall operational areas of individual PRTs are therefore governance, security structures and development. The main elements of the directive are as follows:

PRTs presently operating in Afghanistan are supposed to follow central guidelines formulated by ISAF HQ. These have traditionally been drawn up with considerable flexibility for each PRT commander to adapt them to the local context in the individual province. However, this flexibility has mostly been used by individual troop-contributing countries to implement national interests and policies. This practice has consequentially undermined the credibility of ISAF and minimized the synergy effects of such operations. One PRT concept for all the provinces is not possible because of the different context in each province, but a common template could enhance the synergy effect if followed.    

Of the three overall operational areas, security is fundamental and a prerequisite for the effective expansion of governance and sustainable development. Security is achieved by the physical presence of forces in the provinces and districts. At the same time, the other operational areas are supposed to be implemented in close synergy as security is established. However, these directives are not closely followed by the various PRTs. When the staff responsible for PRTs at ISAF HQ level were interviewed, one overall challenge to the concept was mentioned: the troops that different nations contribute to individual PRTs are deployed to the mission nationally, meaning that individual states deploy troops on the basis of their own concerns, preferences and funding criteria to solve the tasks. If a deploying nation wants to focus on demonstrating a presence in the province at the cost of fewer development projects being implemented, ISAF HQ cannot intervene other than to request that the guidelines be followed.

For example, German-led PRTs in northern Afghanistan are deployed with rather restrictive national rules allowing patrols to be conducted only in relation to medical support and EOD support, and then only with a rather high number of soldiers and armoured transport[22]. Also, the German development agency, BMZ,[23] has some rather bureaucratic procedures for releasing development funds, which slows down the implementation of development projects especially quick-impact projects.[24] The main form of cooperation between the patrols operating out of the PRT and the BMZ is on sharing ‘village profiles’ made by the patrols; BMZ then use the village profiles to identify and implement projects. The latter part of the work, however, does not involve the patrols. At the other end of the spectrum, the Danish troops deployed to the German PRT have a close relationship with the DANIDA[25] advisor stationed with them. The Danish patrols help to identify projects, implement them and follow them up, thus being a direct partner. By contrast, the Czech patrols that are also stationed with the German PRT do not have any development money with which to carry out projects, so they focus primarily on showing a presence in their area of responsibility. These differences in approach within the same PRT make it hard for the local population and civil administration to adjust expectations to the presence of a PRT. Also, the different areas in which the national patrols work receive a quite vitiated level of development.[26] The implication is twofold: there is no uniform civilian perception of the patrols, and some of the population will feel they have been left behind, thus creating mistrust towards the PRT.

In the south of the country, the United Kingdom has a PRT in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province, consisting of about four hundred soldiers and a civilian element represented by among others DFID[27], DANIDA, USAID[28] and UNOPS.[29] However, because of the security situation in the province, this PRT has been focusing on creating security and stability in Lashkar Gah and has not yet been working over the entire province. Cooperation between the civilian element and the military is described as being constructive, but many new lessons have been learned in terms of different approaches of managing the task - long-term versus quick-impact. Also, the UK Task Force in Helmand are focusing strongly on security operations and therefore are not able to supply enough troops to support the PRT and the civilian component with security in identifying and implementing development projects.[30] The result is that the two parts of the PRT on some level do support and reinforce each other’s objectives, but it is yet to be seen how the managing of the task towards higher levels of security and benefits for the population will turn out.

Considering now the US-led PRTs, especially in the eastern part of the country, the focus of their work is very wide. These PRTs are well-funded and are primarily engaged in winning ‘hearts and minds’, especially by implementing quick impact projects in the provinces. These projects are having a positive effect on the local population, who can see a constructive gain from their implementation. The US-led PRTs have development advisors embedded with the military staff and enjoy close cooperation with USAID. At the other end of the spectrum, these PRTs are closely linked with counter-insurgency operations, again with the consequence that the local population cannot relate positively to the PRT.

During the field trip, the impression received was that every nation contributing troops to PRTs has a different agenda.[31] Some have an emphasis on development, others on security, while yet others are more concerned to show their own national flags and implement national development agendas. It seems that the PRT concept is here to stay, and many of the different approaches taken to PRTs have solid advantages. Nonetheless it is evident that the PRT concept needs to be modified so that the local population, the Afghan government and the international NGO community know what to expect from the presence of a PRT so the different efforts can support each other with mutual benefits.

In sum, in general PRTs can be considered a success, with many positive effects. However, the concept needs to be redefined as an instrument with which the military operation can secure the ‘end state’, not one for individual governments to implement policy. PRTs are deployed nationally, and the funds they bring with them are ‘owned’ by national governments. ISAF HQ cannot decide where the money should be used, and although it can make policy, that policy is seldom followed. The funds are donor money and are allocated to each national PRT with stipulations as to use. It is extremely important, however, that a certain amount of donor money be given without caveats and made available so that military commanders and their civilian counterparts can take these assets into account when, for example, planning a military operation or acting in coordination with the national development strategy. In Operation Medusa, an important part of the plan was to make good battle damage. This proved extremely complicated to effect because of the different national attitudes to the PRTs and the fact that not all PRTs were mission capable. This makes it hard for a military commander to calculate the effects of an operation when he does not know what is at his disposal.



The final statement from the NATO summit in Riga did not resolve the operational limits that the ISAF mission is facing in Afghanistan today. However, the issue was placed on the agenda, some restrictions were lifted, and promises of more troops and a greater commitment to boosting the organisation’s efforts in Afghanistan were given. If NATO is to become more effective in dealing with post-conflict resolution, it needs genuine support from all the member states. The conclusions below mention some of the elements that need exactly that commitment. 


Unity of Command

Without Unity of Command, an effective military operation is hard to implement. There is a reason for military forces to be deployed to a hostile post-conflict environment: when civilian NGOs and other international organisations cannot operate freely in a mission area, these forces are expected to deal with the problems and assist in the task of creating stability. ISAF has exactly such an assignment, but it is restricted in its conduct of operations because of  caveats drawn up nationally mainly because of domestic politics. These caveats need to be lifted so that ISAF can more effectively conduct operations that in the end will clear the road to a final resolution of the problems being faced.



If the international community, and especially the countries contributing to the ISAF mission, wish to create a stable and sustainable Afghanistan with a national government taking charge, it must provide ISAF with the resources it originally requested to carry out their own task. In the short run, to deploy troops will undoubtedly tax the existing resources of the troop-contributing countries, but in the long run it will save lives, shorten the mission and limit the current extortion of Afghanistan’s national security forces, which are supposed to take over from ISAF eventually. In the end, winning the support of the local population – the ‘hearts and minds’ campaign – will be delayed because of the low availability of combat troops and the reduced operational manoeuvrability and flexibility that results from this.


Promotion of Cooperation and Consent

As with the above two conclusions, it is essential that the commanders on the ground in Afghanistan know what they have at their disposal in order to conduct effective coordinated operations and to focus their efforts on their main tasks. Also, the Afghan government and the local population find it hard to know what to expect when becoming involved with PRTs. These unidentified expectations may turn counterproductive in winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of the local population. Therefore, troop-contributing countries must actually allocate the command of the PRT to the ISAF commander in the area of operation if success is to be achieved, and not just deploy the PRT as an instrument of national politics. Provisions for the use of development money assigned to the national PRT should be determined by the commanders and their civilian counterparts in the area, or at the very least funds should be allocated directly to a fund at ISAF HQ. It is the staff in the area who have first-hand knowledge of the situation and thus of what to focus on where in the pursuit of the success of the mission overall.



International Security Assistance Force (2006): Provincial Reconstruction Teams Handbook, ISAF.

Jakobsen, Peter Viggo (2005): PRTs in Afghanistan: successful but not sufficient, DIIS Report 6, Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen, Denmark.

NATO News Release (2006): NATO´s highest military body concludes meeting in Poland, NATO International Military Staff News Release 9. September, 

NATO Parliamentary Assembly (2005): Resolution 336 on Reducing National Caveats, (

Reuters (2006): NATO struggling to plug Afghan force shortfalls, Reuters 22 November,

The Herald Tribune (2006): NATO calls for overhaul of Afghanistan strategy, The International Herald Tribune 5 November,

Thruelsen, Peter D. (2006): From Soldier to Civilian: Disarmament, Demobilisation, Reintegration in Afghanistan, DIIS Report 7, Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen, Denmark.

YaleGlobal (2006): A Taliban comeback?, YaleGlobe Online 23 May,


[2] Combined Joint Statement of Requirement (CJSOR), made by the Supreme Allied Commander, Operations.

[3] The Danish strategic initiative is called Concerted Action and Planning (CPA) and could be seen in relation to the military strategy of the Effect-Based Approach to Operations (EBAO).

[4] UNAMA: United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

[5] The fundamentals are identified through NATO AJP 3.4.1 ‘Peace Support Operations’ according to which PSO covers both peacekeeping and peace-enforcing operations, meaning both UN Chapter VI and Chapter VII operations.

[6] Interview conducted with leading staff at ISAF HQ, 22 September 2006. See also NATO Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 336 on Reducing National Caveats (

[7] Currently Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Romania, the United Kingdom and the United States have troops stationed in southern Afghanistan.

[8] Interviews conducted with leading staff at ISAF HQ, 22 September, and at Regional Command South in Kandahar, 25 September 2006.

[9] Operation Medusa was launched on 2 September 2006, and the major combat operations completed on 17 September.

[10] Regional Command South also needed regular troops from other regional commands to engage in the operation, but it was not possible to find them. Regional Command South therefore “borrowed” troops from UK task force Helmand, among others the Danish Reconnaissance Squadron.

[11] Interviews conducted with leading staff from J9 and Liaison Officers to the regional commands at ISAF HQ, 22 September, and at Regional Command South in Kandahar, 25 September 2006.

[12] It should be noted that Denmark only has 41 out of approximately 400 soldiers in PRT Feyzabad.

[13] Interviews conducted in PRT Feyzabad, 27 September to 1 October 2006.

[14] Interviews conducted with leading staff at ISAF HQ, 22 September 2006.

[15] Credibility in this analysis is not viewing the credibility towards own population in the different NATO countries.

[16] Interviews conducted in Feyzabad with representatives of Badakhshan Province, 28 September, and with the civilian development advisor from PRT Feyzabad, 29 September 2006.

[17] Interviews conducted with liaison officers to the regional commands at ISAF HQ, 22 September, and at Regional Command South in Kandahar, 25 September 2006.

[19] The first team was established in Gardez City, Paktia Province, in 2002.

[20] Security sector reform in Afghanistan is subdivided into five areas: Afghan National Army (ANA), Afghan National Police (ANP), Judicial Reform, Disarmament Demobilisation Reintegration (DDR), and Counter-narcotics.

[21] Currently Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the US are leading the different PRTs.

[22] This is also the case with some PRTs in Regional Command West and Centre.

[23] Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung.

[24] Interviews conducted in Feyzabad with a civilian development advisor from PRT Feyzabad, 29 September 2006.

[25] Danish International Development Assistance.

[26] Interviews conducted in Feyzabad with military representatives of the PRT, Feyzabad, 27–29 September 2006.

[27] Department for International Development.

[28] United States Agency for International Development.

[29] United Nations Office for Project Services.

[30] Interviews conducted with military representatives from Regional Command South in Kandahar, 24–25 September 2006.

[31] Interviews conducted with leading staff from J9 at ISAF HQ, 22 September 2006.

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