Missions in Afghanistan, Kosovo and improving defence capabilities top the agenda of a two-day NATO defence ministerial meeting which starts on Tuesday (9 October) at Alliance headquarters.
On Afghanistan, Defence Ministers are expected to discuss the progress made in the mission with ISAF partners on Wednesday, 10 October .
The ministers are expected to endorse the first phase of planning for NATO’s post-2014 training, advice and assistance mission to the Afghan forces. They are to approve the broad framework for the mission, which will serve as guidance for military experts as they take the planning process ahead. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has set a goal to reach agreement on a detailed outline of the mission by early next year and to finalise the operational plan well before the end of 2013.
Plans to hand over full responsibility for security to the Afghans by the end of 2014 remain on course. “Our strategy is to build up the capacity of the Afghan security forces and gradually hand over to them lead responsibility for the security across the country,” the Secretary General said ahead of the ministerial. The timeline is to complete this transition by the end of 2014 . At that time, the current ISAF combat mission will end. From 2015 it will be followed by the NATO-led training, assist and advice mission.
The first working session on Tuesday, 9 October will focus on improving defence capabilities. The Secretary General has highlighted the need for NATO member states to make sure they have the right forces, structures and capabilities in place to make sure they can meet the security challenges of the 21st century. The ministers are expected to keep up the momentum on Smart Defence, finding more ways to become more efficient in defence spending with multinational projects. Allies have already started to implement a list of multinational projects which were approved at the Chicago Summit. The projects give Allies more access to crucial capabilities covering areas such as clearing roadside bombs, sharing smart munitions and pooling maritime patrol aircraft.