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Logo of ISAF. Pashto writing: کمک او همکاری (Komak aw Hamkari) meaning "Help and Cooperation".

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is a NATO-led security and development mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001[1] as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement.[2]

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.[3] In October 2003, the UN Security Council authorized the expansion of the ISAF mission throughout Afghanistan,[4] and ISAF subsequently expanded the mission in four main stages over the whole of the country.[5] 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.

As of January 2009 its troops number around 55,100.[6] There are troops from 26 NATO, 10 partner and 2 non-NATO / non-partner countries,[6] Troop contributors include Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Poland and most members of the European Union and NATO also including Australia, New Zealand, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Singapore. The intensity of the combat faced by contributing nations varies greatly, with the United States, United Kingdom and Canada sustaining substantial casualties in intensive combat operations.



NATO troops and Afghan Border Police at Torkham crossing point between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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-reconstituted Afghan armed forces. 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 S/RES/1386, S/RES/1413, S/RES/1444, S/RES/1510, S/RES/1563, S/RES/1623, S/RES/1659, S/RES/1707, and S/RES/1776(2007). 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.[7]

The mandates the different governments are giving to their forces can differ from country to country.



Overall command

U.S. Army ISAF soldier in Kunar Province.

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.

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 the Netherlands. The mission HQ comprises the multinational NRDC, HQ 1st German/Netherlands Corps (1GNC), including staff from the UK, Italy, Turkey and Norway amongst others.
  • 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 Luxembourg. 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: General Dan K. McNeill, US Army, assumed command of NATO forces.
  • 2 June 2008: General David D. McKiernan, US Army, assumed command of NATO forces.
  • 15 June 2009: General Stanley A. McChrystal, US Army, assumed command of NATO forces.

Deployed Forces

ISAF troops under NATO command (September 2008).

The initial ISAF headquarters was based on 3rd UK Mechanised Division, 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, now Sweden and Finland), 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.[8]

The main HQ at Afghanistan is located in the capital city of Kabul. There are five (5) Regional Commands, each with subordinate Task Forces and Provincial Reconstruction Teams (as of October 2008):

The Norwegian base, inside Camp Marmal.
Construction of Camp Marmal at Mazar-i-Sharif.
  • HQ ISAF at Kabul (Composite)
  • Regional Command Capital (Kabul) (approx. strength: 5,420)
    • The command of this region is rotating among Turkey, France and Italy. At the moment, November 2009, Turkey is the leading nation in this region. The headquarters is in Kabul. On 31 October 2009 the Turkish Brigadier General Levent ÇOLAK took over command from France Brigadier General. Strength in 2010 appx. 6,150. Nearly all of the more than forty contributors have troops deployed to Kabul. The city has been under joint Afghan/coalition control since 2002 but came repeatedly under attacks of insurgent fighters.
    • Kabul International Airport KAIA (Hungary, previously Belgium)
  • Regional Command North (approx. 4,400)
    • HQ RC(N), Camp Marmal, HQ Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh province
    • RC-N is led by Germany. Since 30 November 2009 the German Brigadier General Frank Leidenberger took over command of RC-North. Strength: appx. 5,750, to be raised. Other forces in RC-N include units from the United States of America, Croatia, Norway, Belgium, Sweden and Hungary et al. The situation in RC-N as deteriorated. Hotspots include Kunduz in northern Afghanistan and Faryab in the northwest.
    • Manoeuvre battalions, including QRF
    • PRT MAZAR-E-SHARIF in Balkh province (Sweden and Finland)
    • PRT FEYZABAD (DEU) in Badakhshan province (Germany)
    • PRT KONDUZ in Kunduz province (Germany)
    • PRT POL-E KHOMRI in Baghlan Province (Hungary)
    • PRT MEYMANA in Faryab Province (Norway)
  • Regional Command West (approx. 2,980)
    • HQ RC(W) in HERAT, Herat province (Italy)
    • 9 October 2008 the Italian Brigadier General Paolo Serra took over command from his compatriot Brigade-General Francesco Arena. Commander now (Jan 2010) Brig.Gen. Alessandro Velti (ITA). Strength: appx 4,440
    • Forward Support Base HERAT (Spain)
    • Manoeuvre elements, special forces task force
    • PRT HERAT in Herat province (Italy)
    • PRT FARAH in Farah province (USA)
    • PRT QALA-E-NOW in Badghis province (Spain, soon reinforced by Colombia[9])
    • PRT CHAGHCHARAN in Ghor province (Lithuania)
  • Regional Command South (approx. 35,000)
    • HQ RC(S) at Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar Province (Netherlands) (rotates Canada, Netherlands, UK)
    • Forward Support Base Kandahar (Multinational)
    • Task Force Helmand (U.K. forces in central and northeast Helmand Province)
    • Task Force Leatherneck (U.S. Marines in southern and western Helmand Province) [5]
    • Task Force Kandahar (Canadian Forces in Kandahar City and western Kandahar Province)
    • Task Force Stryker (U.S. forces in the remainder of Kandahar Province. U.S. and Romanian Forces in Zabul Province)
    • Task Force Uruzgan (Dutch forces in Uruzgan Province)
    • Kandahar PRT in Kandahar City (Canada) [6]
    • Helmand PRT in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province (UK, Denmark, Estonia) [7]
    • Uruzgan PRT in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan Province (Netherlands, Australia) [8]
    • Zabul PRT in Qalat, Zabul Province (USA, Romania) [9]
    • Regional Command South also includes the provinces of Nimruz and Daykundi
  • Regional Command East (HQ Bagram Air Base) (approx. 18,800)
    • Apart from additional manoeuvre elements, RC-E heads 13 Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) in the eastern and central provinces of Afghanistan. The headquarters is located in Bagram. Other forces in RC-E include units from France, Turkey, New Zealand, Poland and the Czech Republic et al. The province has been a staging ground for costly engagements. Hotspots include Kapisa, Nurestan and Konar. Current commander is Maj. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti (USA). The commander also directs the U.S. national force [[* Combined Joint Task Force 82. Lead nation and main contributor is the United States. Strength: appx. 23,950, to be raised.
    • Forward Support Base BAGRAM (USA)
    • PRT LOGAR in Logar Province (Czech Republic)
    • PRT SHARANA in Paktika province (USA)
    • PRT KHOST in Khost province (USA)
    • PRT METHER LAM in Laghman province (USA)
    • PRT BAMYAN in Bamyan province (New Zealand)
    • PRT PANJSHIR in Panjshir province (USA)
    • PRT JALALABAD in Nangarhar province (USA)
    • PRT GHAZNI in Ghazni province (Poland, USA)
    • PRT ASADABAD in Kunar province (USA)
    • PRT WARDAK (Turkey)
    • PRT GARDEZ in Paktia province (USA)
  • Regional Command Southwest to form, Helmand [10]

The lower strength numbers of the ISAF forces are as of 6 October 2008.[10] 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

Polish Army soldiers securing the bridge on the A1 motorway.

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, Dutch, Canadian and Danish ISAF soldiers in the provinces of Helmand,Uruzgan and Kandahar have come under almost daily attack. 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"[11]

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 on which to fall back. 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.[12]

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.[13]

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.[13]

On 10 October 2008, during a news conference, after an informal meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in Budapest, Hungary, NATO Spokesman James Appathurai said:[14]

[...] 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.

Contributing nations

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 97,200[15] troops of the Afghan National Army and 93,800[16] policemen from the Afghan National Police, who are described by the British Ministry of Defence as "fully equipped and trained".[17][18]

Summary of major troop contributions (44 nations, 3 March 2010):[19]

Current ISAF contributors in dark green, potential future contributors in light green[citation needed], and former contributors in cyan.

Table of ISAF/NATO Contributors[19]

Country Number of Troops % of Total
 United States 50,590 56.53%
 United Kingdom 9,500 10.61%
 Germany* 5,335 5.84%
 France* 3,750 4.19%
 Italy* 3,160 3.53%
 Canada 2,830 3.16%
 Poland* 2,140 2.39%
 Netherlands* 1,880 2.10%
 Turkey 1,835 2.05%
 Australia 1,550 1.73%
 Spain* 1,075 1.20%
 Romania* 970 1.08%
 Denmark* 750 0.83%
 Belgium* 560 0.62%
 Bulgaria* 525 0.59%
 Norway 470 0.52%
 Czech Republic* 455 0.51%
 Sweden* 410 0.46%
 Hungary* 310 0.35%
 Croatia 270 0.30%
 Albania 250 0.27%
 Slovakia* 230 0.26%
 New Zealand 220 0.25%
 Lithuania* 220 0.25%
 Georgia 175 0.19%
 Latvia* 170 0.18%
 Macedonia 165 0.18%
 Estonia* 145 0.16%
 Portugal* 110 0.12%
 Finland* 95 0.10%
 Azerbaijan 90 0.09%
 Slovenia* 70 0.08%
 Singapore 40 0.05%
 Montenegro 4 0.00%
 United Arab Emirates 25 0.03%
 Greece* 15 0.02%
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 10 0.01%
 Luxembourg* 9 0.00%
 Ireland* 7 0.00%
 Ukraine 8 0.00%
 Iceland 4 0.00%
 Austria* 3 0.00%
 Armenia 40 0.04%
 Jordan 6 0.00%
Total[19] 89,480 100.00%
NOTE: * denotes EU Countries

NATO nations

A Bulgarian army up-armored M1114 patrol in Kabul, July 2009

All troop figures are as of latest ISAF/NATO Placemat. Source ISAF Website[19].

  •  Albania250 The Albanian contribution to ISAF operations in Afghanistan currently consists of 350 soldiers in three locations. The main contingent is composed of a company under Italian command in the province of Herat. Albania also has a squad of soldiers under Turkish command in Kabul and a contribution to a joint medical team with the Czech contribution. Prime Minister Sali Berisha stated in an interview he has ordered a doubling of the Albanian contingent to assist NATO partners in providing security for the upcoming Afghan elections.[19]
  •  Belgium560 The mission is named BELU ISAF 21. 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. In September 2008, OGF 4 started: four F-16s with about 140 support personnel deployed. They operate from Kandahar Airport.[20] The Belgian Air Force will operate close together with the Dutch F-16 fighter jets already deployed there.[11]. The Belgians are planning the send four more F-16s, along with 150 more troops and plan to stay at least through 2010.
  •  Bulgaria525 In December 2009, the Bulgarian Minister of Defence Nikolay Mladenov said that the Bulgarian contingent in Afghanistan, which is divided in two military bases in Kabul and Kandahar, will be consolidated in Kandahar and that it could add up to 100 troops in Afghanistan in 2010 [21].
Canadian soldiers fire an M777 155 mm Howitzer field artillery gun at identified Taliban fighting positions in near the Sangin District Center area from an undisclosed forward operating base in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan April 7, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Keith D. Henning)
Soldiers from the Canadian Grenadier Guards in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan.
  •  Croatia270 Troops are involved in three locations. Croatian government announced that it will increase number of Croatian troops in Afghanistan to 550.
  •  Czech Republic455 Troops are involved in four locations, as of February 2009. The largest unit was deployed as PRT Logar composed of 192 troops and 7 civilians in Logar Province, in place since 19 March 2008. Four BMP-2 IFVs are part of PRT Logar. Field Hospital at Kabul International Airport was deployed in March 2007 and consists of 81 medical and 13 NBC protection personnel. Eight helicopter pilots and technicians are part of the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT). Also, four weather forecast specialists and two air traffic 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. The Czechs also donated 12 helicopters to the Afghan National Army Air corps, and fly 3 Mi-17 helicopters in Pakitika Province.[23]
  •  Denmark750 The major Danish military contribution is 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 take 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 the Second Schleswig War of 1864. Denmark has lost 30 soldiers in Afghanistan since 2002. A recent survey[24]] has determined that Denmark by far has the highest count of casualties relative to population. This has sparked controversy whether Denmark should withdraw troops to more safe regions in Afghanistan. Denmark's leader recently said his country's commitment depends on whether Afghanistan's Nov. 7 presidential runoff produces a credible leader (the runoff was cancelled).[25]
  •  Estonia145 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.
  •  France3,750 The French forces are deployed in Kabul under operation Pamir XVII and in Kapisa Province, 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. 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.[26] The deployment would mark a significant change in French policy in Afghanistan. The French Prime Minister, François Fillon, has announced that 100 additional troops with Aérospatiale Gazelle helicopters are to be sent in the country. According to the French newspaper Libération, Sarkozy is planning to send more several hundred troops. France has decided to send Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters to Afghanistan in the second quarter of 2009.[27]. According to French foreign policy observers, Sarkozy could decide by the end of the year 2010 to send new French reinforcements, almost 5,000 soldiers more[citation needed].
German Army Panzergrenadiers in combat in December 2009
  •  Germany4,335 Total makes Germany the third-largest troop contributor to ISAF. Germany leads Regional Command North based based in Mazar-i-Sharif. The task of the 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. The mandate issued by the German Lower House 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. However, German troops together with allied forces of Regional Command North have conducted own combat operations in northern and northeast Afghanistan, inflicting as many as 650 casualties upon insurgents. Germany has agreed to send 850 additional troops in 2010, raising the mandate ceiling to 5,350 troops. 37 German troops and 3 policemen have been killed in Afghanistan. 148 service members have been wounded in action.
  •  Hungary310 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. Since 1 October 2008, one of the tasks of the Hungarians is to provide security at Kabul International Airport. In 2010 Budapest adds 200 soldiers to the 340 troops it already has in Afghanistan working in reconstruction and training.[28]
  •  Italy3,160 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.[29]. Italian contingent including 5 helicopters Agusta A129 Mangusta, 2 C-27 Spartan, 1 C-130, 3 AB-212,3 CH-47. Additionally, in April 2008, 4 Panavia Tornado reconnaissance jets and 3 helicopters AB-412, with corresponding 250 personnel (also included), were deployed to Kabul in support of ISAF combat operations in the country. In February 2009 the Italian government decided to boost its contingent by 800 and 2 more Panavia Tornado to help out with police training and economic development.[30]. More 1000 military 'll sent in Afghanistan in 2010, for 3800 in total.
  •  Latvia170 troops divided between Kabul and the PRTs in Mazar-i-Sharif and Meymaneh as of December 2007.[19]
  •  Lithuania220 In June 2005, ISAF established in Chaghcharan, the capital of Ghor province, a Lithuanian PRT in which Danish, US and Icelandic troops also serve.[31] Lithuanian special forces were sent south to help the British forces in their spring offensive.
  •  Luxembourg9 [32] after December 22, 2009. Source ISAF Website. Luxembourg is working together with Belgium in BELU ISAF 13. The Luxembourgian squad 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.
Royal Netherlands Army Pzh-2000 firing on Taliban in Chura. 16 June 2007.
  •  Netherlands1,880 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.[citation needed] The Dutch parliament passed a motion in October 2009 barring the renewal of its Afghan presence; however, it is the competence of the Dutch government to decide on troop deployment[25][33]. In February 2010, NATO officially requested The Netherlands to extend its military presence, aimed at training Afghan security forces and transfer of responsibilities to the local authorities [34][35][36]. After discussion, the request led to the fall of the then government. As a result, all Dutch Armed Forces troops will withdraw in 2010 as scheduled.
  •  Norway470 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.[37] 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,[38][39] and 50 troops tasked with training Afghan soldiers.[40][41] 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.[citation needed] 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.[42] Building new compounds for ANA has been one way the Norwegian ISAF contribution has supported the modernisation and expansion of the Afghan military.[43] Four Norwegian soldiers have been killed in action.[44][45][46][47]
Polish Mil Mi-24 in Ghazni Province.
  •  Poland2,140 [48] Polish forces are responsible for the south-eastern province of Ghazni. They are based in 5 different locations around the province: Warrior, Qarabagh, Giro, Four Corners and Ghazni. Also an unknown number of Polish special forces are deployed in the southern province of Kandahar. Polish contignent operates 70 wheeled armoured vehicles Rosomak and 40 Cougar (vehicles) on loan from US. Additionaly 4 Mil Mi-24 and 4 Mil Mi-17 are in use. In December 2009 the Polish Ministry of Defence announced that in April 2010 it will dispatch addidional 60 Rosomaks, 5 Mi-17 and 600 troops which would bring the total number to 2,740. The contignent will also include 400 backup troops based in Poland who could be send over at any given time bringing the total number of soldiers to 3,140. In March 2010, the Polish MoD announced that 1 battalion of the American 101st Airborne Division will be dispatched to Ghazni, under Polish command.
  •  Portugal110 The national participation in operations in Afghanistan began in February 2002. A military health detachment composed of the three branches of the Armed Forces remained in Kabul for 3 months in a British campaign hospital of the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force). Followed by a C-130 Detachment who acted from Karachi (Pakistan), between April and July of that year. NATO took over leadership of ISAF in 2003, and in May 2004, Portugal became involved in this new mission with a C-130 Detachment and supporting staff of the Portuguese Air Force, as meteorologists, firefighters, drivers, based at King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA). After finishing this mission for 1 year, in August 2005, the Portuguese Air Force took command of KAIA with several of its services (for a period of 3 months), but now without aircrafts. The Portuguese Army began between June and August 2005 the task of Quick Reaction Force (QRF) of the ISAF Command with a light infantry company (alternated 4 Commandos companies and 2 of Paratroopers), and a TACP Detachment of the Air Force. Officers and sergeants of the three branches have served in the ISAF HQ and other regional structures, more or less discreet. Between late July 2008 and mid-December a detachment of the Portuguese Air Force, incorporating a C-130 and support staff in various specialties, like maintenance and force protection, totaling some 40 soldiers, met the new mission from Kabul. In addition to a serious injured and several light injureds, the Portuguese army have suffered two dead, the Commando Sergeant João Paulo Roma Pereira in November 18, 2005 and the Paratrooper Soldier Sérgio Miguel Vidal Oliveira Pedrosa in November 24, 2007.
Romanian soldiers in southern Afghanistan.
  •  Romania970 Force consists of a battalion in Qalat, Zabul Province. 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. In January 2010, the Supreme Defense Council of Romania announced to send 600 more troops to Afghanistan, boosting its military presence there to more than 1,600 soldiers [49].
  •  Slovakia230 Multirole 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.[50]
Spanish convoy at Herat Aiport.
  •  Spain1,075 troops. The collective Spanish military contribution to ISAF is known as ASPFOR. Spanish forces are divided between Herat Province, where they form a quick-reaction company, an instructors team for Afghan National Army training and a Combat Search & Rescue unit; Kabul, and Badghis Province, where they lead PRT Qala-i-Naw[51]. The deployment involves engineers, infantry, a transport helicopters unit, and a logistics component. Spanish soldiers are constrained by caveats. The mandate issued by the Spanish Parliament does not allow Spanish forces neither to engage Taliban insurgents unless being directly attacked first, nor to move into the south and east of Afghanistan. Spain has rejected three times to lead the ISAF when its shift to do so has come.[52]
  •  Turkey1,835 troops. Turkey's responsibilities include providing security in Kabul (it currently leads RC Capital), as well as in Wardak Province, where it leads PRT Maidan Shahr. Turkey was once the third largest contingent within the ISAF. Turkey's troops are not engaged in combat operations and Ankara has long resisted pressure from Washington to offer more combat troops. In December 2009, after the US President Obama announced he would deploy 30,000 more U.S. soldiers, and that Washington wants others to follow suit, the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, reacted with the message that Turkey would not contribute additional troops to Afghanistan. "Turkey has already done what it can do by boosting its contingent of soldiers there to 1,750 from around 700 without being asked", said Erdogan, who stressed that Turkey would continue its training of Afghan security forces [53].
British patrol in Helmand province.
  •  United Kingdom9,500 troops deployed in Helmand Province.[54] 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. According to the BBC, on the 30th November 2009 Gordon Brown has announced an increase in British troop numbers, which will bring the total to 10,000 personnel, (500 extra ground troops, and 500 Special Forces) additionally more modified Merlin helicopters will be deployed. The MoD have stated that all the equipment is ready for such a deployment. The deployment in December 2009/January 2010 will mean British troop levels in the theatre will be the highest since the invasion in 2001.
US soldiers provide security during a meeting with the district governor in Sabari, Afghanistan, March 6, 2007.
  •  United States50,590 (ISAF figure). Around 93,780 are currently deployed in Afghanistan: 45,780 under the command of NATO-ISAF as of December 2007 and the remaining 48,000 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 December 2009 President Obama announced an increase of 34,000 US troops from Spring 2010 onwards.[55]

Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) nations

  •  Armenia40, (as of latest ISAF/NATO Placemat. Source ISAF Website.)[56] Sent about 30 troops to serve under German command[57]
  •  Austria3, (as of latest ISAF/NATO Placemat. Source ISAF Website.)[19] They are deployed in Kabul. In 2002, 75 soldiers were temporarily deployed in Kabul and in the year 2005 a contingent of 100 soldiers served in Afghanistan.[58]
  •  Azerbaijan90, (as of latest ISAF/NATO Placemat. Source ISAF Website.)[19][59] The country announced that it will further increase its troops by the end of 2009.[60]
  •  Finland95, (as of latest ISAF/NATO Placemat. Source ISAF Website.)[19] They are stationed in currently in four provinces of around Mazari Sharif, as all of Finnish troops serve in the PRT Mazari Sharif since early 2009.[61]
  •  Georgia175, (as of latest ISAF/NATO Placemat. Source ISAF Website.)[62].In October 13, 2009, Georgia announced that a total amount of 900 Georgian peacekeepers will be deployed by the end of 2010, making the country, to one of the major contributors of peacekeeping and counter insurgency operations in the south-eastern parts of Afghanistan.[63] Further, according to an article of "The Georgian Times", which was released early in December 2009, a deployment of approximately 1,000 Georgian servicemen and women is already expected for January 2010.[64]
  •  Ireland7, (as of latest ISAF/NATO Placemat. Source ISAF Website.)[19]
  •  Macedonia165, (as of latest ISAF/NATO Placemat. Source ISAF Website.)[19] Macedonia is expected to send 80 reinforcements to back the US surge.[65]
  •  Montenegro4[66]. They are currently stationed in two bases, Pol-e-Khomri and Marmal.
  •  Ukraine8, (as of latest ISAF/NATO Placemat. Source ISAF Website.)[19][67][68] Military doctors serve in the Lithuanian-led PRT Chagcharan, while one officer works at the ISAF HQ in Kabul.

Non-NATO and non-EAPC nations

An Australian Special Operations Task Group patrol in October 2009
  •  Australia1,550, (as of latest ISAF/NATO Placemat. Source ISAF Website.) Department of Defence.[69] 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 SAS Regiment and commandos), 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. Australian CH-47D Chinook heavy-lift helicopters serve in Afghanistan as transports.
  •  Jordan6 (as of latest ISAF/NATO Placemat. Source ISAF Website.)[19] Jordanian troops were deployed in December 2001 to establish a 50-bed medical facility in Mazar-e-Sharif. According to the US Department of Defense, 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.[70]
  •  New Zealand220, (as of latest ISAF/NATO Placemat. Source ISAF Website.)[19] 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,[71] and a small number of New Zealand Police instructors have been involved in training local police forces in Bamian since March 2003.[72] From late 2001 to November 2005, three 6-month rotations of between 40 and 65 New Zealand Special Air Service troops were sent to southern Afghanistan.[73][74]
  •  Singapore40 (as of latest ISAF/NATO Placemat. Source ISAF Website.)[19] 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.[75]
  •  United Arab Emirates25 (as of latest ISAF/NATO Placemat. Source ISAF Website.)[19] - The UAE had 170 soldiers serving in Tarin Kowt province in March 2008 as reported by the BBC.[76]

Expected contributions

  •  Colombia - Colombia plans to deploy around 100 forces in Spring 2009.[77][78] These forces are expected to be demining experts.[79][80] General Freddy Padilla de Leon has announced to CBS that operators of Colombia's Special Forces Brigade will be deployed to Afghanistan in either August or September 2009.[81]
  •  Kazakhstan - Kazakhstan will deploy five troops to help the ISAF mission.[65]
  •  Mongolia - Mongolia is planning on sending 153 troops to back the US surge in country.[65]
  •  South Korea - South Korea will send 530 troops in total around 2010.[82]

Withdrawn nations

  •  Switzerland - 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[83].
  •  South Korea - 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 Christian 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.[84][85]. Since then, Seoul had only taken the role of providing medical and vocational training by assisting the United States and only two dozen South Korean volunteers work inside the U.S. Air Force Base in Bagram, north of Kabul. On 30 June 2008, South Korea thus 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. In December 2009, the South Korean defence ministry announced it would send 350 troops in 2010 to protect South Korean civilian engineers working on reconstruction. These troops would not engage in any fighting except to protect the base of the South Korean Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and escort and protect the activities of the PRT members. These new troops would be backed by helicopters, armoured vehicles and an unmanned reconnaissance drone to protect the 100 civilian engineers and 40 police. The South Korean contingent would be based in Parwan province, just north of Kabul for 30 months from 1 July 2010 [86]. This invoked threats from the side of the Taliban. In a statement e-mailed to international media, Taliban insurgents said Seoul must be ready to face "bad consequences" if the troops were deployed. "On one hand this act is against the Afghanistan independence. On the other hand, it will break their promise they made in 2007 in return to the freedom of 19 of their citizens". The South Korean government said it made no promises to stay out of Afghanistan when it withdrew its troops in 2007. "There was no promise (to the Taliban) that South Korea would not re-deploy its troops to Afghanistan," an official at the Ministry of National Defense said in November 2009. "We've checked with officials involved in the 2007 negotiations with the Taliban if there was such a promise." [87].
  •  Serbia - Serbia had, in late 2006, contributed 5 specialists in airport security.[88]. 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[89], 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[90]. The previous announcements were withdrawn after parliamentary elections so no Serbian troops are serving with ISAF.

Announced withdrawals

  •  Netherlands - The Netherlands announced in December 2007 that it will begin withdrawing its Dutch Armed Forces troops from Afghanistan, mainly in the province of Uruzgan, in July 2010. "I do not have assurances that other countries will be ready to replace Netherlands troops, but I am certain that Dutch troops will leave in 2010," Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said. "I indicated that in writing ... to the NATO secretary general, who has confirmed it."[91] Last minute negotiations in February 2010 after a further NATO request did not change this stance, and all Dutch troops are to withdraw later in 2010.[92]

Coalition casualties in Afghanistan

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan

Includes also the civilian casualties since the arrival of NATO/ISAF.

Afgan and NATO Military and Police Strength over Time

ISAF Troop Contributing Nations

Initial Placemat 02JAN2007[94] Placemat 05DEC2007[95] Placemat 01DEC2008[96] Placemat 09DEC2009 Latest Placemat 01FEB2010[19] Recent Updates Recent Updated Differences  % of Total ISAF for Latest Placemat
Albania 30 138 140 245 250 0.30%
Armenia 0 0 0 0 40 0.00%
Australia 500 892 1,090 1,550 1,550 1.81%
Austria* 5 3 1 3 3 0.00%
Azerbaijan 20 22 45 90 90 0.10%
Belgium* 300 369 400 545 560 0.67%
Bosnia and Herzegovina 0 0 0 10 10 0.01%
Bulgaria* 100 401 460 495 525 0.63%
Canada 2,500 1,730 2,750 2,830 2,830 3.30%
Croatia 130 211 300 295 270 0.34%
Czech Republic* 150 240 415 370 455 0.51%
Denmark* 400 628 700 740 750 0.87%
Estonia* 90 125 130 155 145 0.17%
Finland* 70 86 80 90 95 0.11%
France* 1,000 1,292 2,785 3,750 3,750 4.37%
Georgia 0 0 1 175 175 0.20%
Germany* 3,000 3,155 3,600 4,280 4,335 5,335 5.15%
Greece* 170 143 130 15 15 0.02%
Hungary* 180 219 240 255 310 0.37%
Iceland 5 10 8 4 4 0.00%
Ireland* 10 7 7 7 7 0.01%
Italy* 1,950 2,358 2,350 3,150 3,160 3.67%
Jordan 0 90 0 0 6 0.00%
Latvia* 35 96 70 175 170 0.20%
Lithuania* 130 196 200 155 220 0.19%
Luxembourg* 10 9 9 9 9 0.01%
Montenegro* 0 0 0 0 4  %
Netherlands* 2,200 1,512 1,770 1,950 1,880 2.26%
New Zealand 100 74 150 220 220 0.26%
Norway 350 508 455 500 470 0.58%
Poland* 160 1,141 1,130 1,955 2,140 (2600 in April 2010) 2.28%
Portugal* 150 163 70 105 110 0.12%
Romania* 750 537 740 900 970 1.10%
Serbia 0 0 0 0 0 0.00%
Singapore 0 0 0 38 40 0.05%
Slovakia* 60 70 180 240 230 0.28%
Slovenia* 50 66 70 70 70 0.08%
Spain* 550 763 780 1,065 1,075 1.25%
Sweden* 180 350 400 500 410 0.48%
Switzerland 5 2 0 0 0 0.00%
The Republic of Macedonia 120 125 135 165 165 0.19%
Turkey 800 1,219 860 1755 1835 2.05%
Ukraine 0 0 10 10 8 0.01%
UAE 0 0 0 0 25 0.03%
United Kingdom* 5,200 7,753 8,745 9,500 9,500 11.07%
United States 14,000 15,038 19,950 45,780 50,590 54.88%

Subtotal for ISAF EU Countries

16,900 21,682 25,462 30,479 30,789 35.89%

Subtotal for ISAF Non-EU Countries

18,560 20,059 25,894 53,667 55,006 64.11%

ISAF Total

35,460[94] 41,741[95] 51,356[96] 84,146 89,480[19] 100.00%

Afghan Government Military and Police

Afghan National Army (ANA) unknown unknown unknown 100,000 100,130[19]
Afghan National Police (ANP) unknown unknown unknown 93,800[16] 96,380[97]

Approximate Grand Total Troop Strength

35,460 41,741 51,356 277,946 282,305
Initial Placemat 02JAN2007 Placemat 05DEC2007 Placemat 01DEC2008 Placemat 09DEC2009 Latest Placemat 01FEB2010 Recent Updates Recent Updated Differences  % of Total ISAF for Latest Placemat
NOTE: * denotes EU Countries

Expansion of ISAF’s presence in Afghanistan

Geographically depiction of the four ISAF stages (January 2009).

Stage 1: to the north - completed October 2004

  • In December 2003, the North Atlantic Council authorised the Supreme Allied Commander, General James Jones, to initiate the expansion of ISAF by taking over command of the German-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Kunduz. The other eight PRTs operating in Afghanistan in 2003 remained under the command of Operation Enduring Freedom, the continuing US-led military operation in Afghanistan. On 31 December 2003, the military component of the Kunduz PRT was placed under ISAF command as a pilot project and first step in the expansion of the mission. Six months later, on 28 June 2004, at the Summit meeting of the NATO Heads of State and Government in Istanbul, NATO announced that it would establish four other provincial reconstruction teams in the north of the country: in Mazar-e-Sharif, Meymana, Feyzabad and Baghlan. After the completion of Stage 1 the ISAF’s area of operations then covered some 3,600 square kilometres in the north and the mission was able to influence security in nine Northern provinces of the country.[98]
  • 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[99]
  • 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.

Stage 2: to the west - completed September 2005

  • On 10 February 2005, NATO announced that ISAF would be further expanded, into the west of Afghanistan. This process began on 31 May 2006, when ISAF took on command of two additional PRTs, in the provinces of Herat and Farah and of a Forward Support Base (a logistic base) in Herat. At the beginning of September, two further ISAF-led PRTs in the west became operational, one in Chaghcharan, capital of Ghor province, and one in Qala-e-Naw, capital of Baghdis province, completing ISAF’s expansion into the west. The extended ISAF mission led a total of nine PRTs, in the north and the west, providing security assistance in 50% of Afghanistan’s territory. The Alliance continued to make preparations to further expand ISAF, to the south of the country. In September 2005, the Alliance also temporarily deployed 2,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to support the 18 September provincial and parliamentary elections.[98]
  • 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.[100]
  • 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".

Stage 3: to the south - completed July 2006

  • On 8 December 2005, meeting at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, the Allied Foreign Ministers endorsed a plan that paved the way for an expanded ISAF role and presence in Afghanistan. The first element of this plan was the expansion of ISAF to the south in 2006, also known as Stage 3. At the completion of this stage the ISAF assumed command of the southern region of Afghanistan from US-led Coalition forces, expanding its area of operations to cover an additional six provinces – Day Kundi, Helmand, Kandahar, Nimroz, Uruzgan and Zabul – and taking on command of four additional PRTs. The expanded ISAF led a total of 13 PRTs in the north, west and south, covering some three-quarters of Afghanistan’s territory. The number of ISAF forces in the country also increased significantly, from about 10,000 prior to the expansion to about 20,000 after.[98]
  • 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.[101]

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.

Stage 4: ISAF takes responsibility for entire country - completed October 2006

  • On 5 October 2006, ISAF implemented the final stage of its expansion, by taking on command of the international military forces in eastern Afghanistan from the US-led Coalition. In addition to expanding the Alliance’s area of operations, the revised operational plan also paved the way for a greater ISAF role in the country. This includes the deployment of ISAF OMLTs to Afghan National Army units at various levels of command.[98]
  • 10,000 more coalition troops moved under NATO command. 31,000 ISAF troops are now in Afghanistan. 8,000 US troops continue training and counter-terrorism separately.
  • 21 October 2006: The Canadian government grew increasingly frustrated over the unwillingness of mainly European NATO members to deploy troops to help fight mounting Taliban resistance in the south.[citation needed]

ISAF Post Stage 4: October 2006 to present

  • November 2006: 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.[102]
  • 28–29 November 2006: NATO summit at Riga (Latvia). Combat curbs were 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. The summit also 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.[103]
  • 15 December 2006: ISAF starts a new offensive, Operation Baaz Tsuka (Falcon's Summit), against the Taliban in the Panjaway Valley in Kandahar province.
  • 4 February: US General Dan McNeill replaced British General David Richards as commander of the NATO forces in Afghanistan. He is expected to place a heavier emphasis on fighting than peace deals, analysts say.[104] Meanwhile observers and commanders are expecting a new Taliban "spring offensive", and NATO commanders are asking for more troops.
  • 6 March 2007: 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.[105]
  • 27 April and 19 May 2009: ISAF launched Operations Zafar and Zafar 2 in the Helmand Province. Operation Zafar lasted one week and Operation Zafar 2 lasted four days. Both operations were preparing for Operation Panther's Claw.
  • 29 May 2009: ISAF launched Operation Mar Lewe around the village of Yatimchay, 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) south of Musa Qaleh, Helmand Province. Operation Mar Lewe lasted three-days. "Mar Lewe" is Pashtu for "snake wolf."
  • 19 June 2009: ISAF launched Operation Panther's Claw to secure control of various canal and river crossings in Helmand Province and to establish a lasting ISAF presence in an area described by Lt Col Richardson as "one of the main Taliban strongholds" ahead of the 2009 Afghan presidential election.
  • 2 July 2009: ISAF launched Operation Strike of the Sword or Operation Khanjar in Helmand Province. This operation is the largest U.S. Marine offensive since the battle of Fallujah, Iraq - Operation Phantom Fury in 2004.


Ribbon of NATO Medal for Service with ISAF.

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 NATO forces.

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.

See also

Further reading

  • Sean M. Maloney, Enduring The Freedom: A Rogue Historian In Afghanistan.. Dulles: Potomac Books, Incorporated, 2005, ISBN 1-57488-953-2

External links


  1. ^ United Nations Security Council Resolution 1386 S-RES-1386(2001) on 31 May 2001 (retrieved 2007-09-21)
  2. ^ United Nations Security Council Document 1154 Annex I - International Security Force page 9 in 2001
  3. ^ Official Documents System of the United Nations
  4. ^ UNSC Resolution 1510, October 13, 2003
  5. ^ ISAF Chronology
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ United Nations Security Council Verbotim Report meeting 5744 page 2, Mr. Churkin Russia on 19 September 2007 at 17:20 (retrieved 2007-09-21)
  8. ^ NATO OTAN Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum - (ISAF)
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ ISAF source stored on International Security Assistance Force
  11. ^ BBC report Deployed to Afghanistan's 'Hell'.
  12. ^ The Washington QuarterlyPoppies for Peace: Reforming Afganistans Opium Industry
  13. ^ a b BBC NEWS | South Asia | Nato to attack Afghan opium labs: BBC News Retrieved on 10 October 2008
  14. ^ NATO, NATO Events: Informal Meeting of NATO Defence Ministers - Budapest, 9-10 October 2008, Retrieved on 10 October 2008
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b
  17. ^ BBC NEWS | South Asia | Q&A: Isaf troops in Afghanistan
  18. ^ [2]
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u
  20. ^ [3]
  21. ^ "Bulgaria could add up to 100 troops in Afghanistan: defense minister"
  22. ^
  23. ^ Ministry of Defence - Current Deployments
  24. ^ Danmarks Radio - Danmark mister flest soldater i Afghanistan
  25. ^ a b Will the war in Afghanistan bring down NATO?
  26. ^ Reuters, France eyes sending troops to Afghan combat zone
  27. ^
  28. ^ "NATO allies offer 7,000 extra troops for Afghan war". Reuters. 2009-12-05. Retrieved 11 February 2010. 
  29. ^ La Russa: "Afghanistan combattiamo da un anno ma Prodi ha taciuto" - Articolo - del 01-07-2008
  30. ^
  31. ^ Lithuanian Armed Forces - Central and South Asia region
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Cabinet undecided over Dutch presence in Uruzgan"
  34. ^ (Dutch)"NAVO verzoekt nieuwe missie Afghanistan"
  35. ^ "NATO would like Dutch to train Afghan troops"
  36. ^ (Dutch)"Kabinet onderzoekt langere missie Afghanistan"
  37. ^ Norwegian Government website: F-16s for ISAF in Afghanistan
  38. ^ Official Norwegian Defence Force website: New capacity
  39. ^ Official Norwegian Defence Force website: Helicopters important for the soldiers (Norwegian)
  40. ^ Norway to send troops to southern Afghanistan - People's Daily Online
  41. ^ Aftenposten Newspaper: More soldiers to Afghanistan
  42. ^ The Norway Post: Norwegian explosives experts to Afghanistan
  43. ^ Official Norwegian Defence Force website: New "Norwegian" camp
  44. ^ Aftenposten Newspaper: Taliban threaten more attacks in Afghanistan
  45. ^ Aftenposten Newspaper: Fallen soldier comes home (English)
  46. ^ Aftenposten Newspaper: Norwegian fatality in Afghanistan (English)
  47. ^ Aftenposten Newspaper: Soldier's body arrives home (English)
  48. ^
  49. ^ "Romania To Send More Troops To Afghanistan; Germany Mulls Raising Number"
  50. ^
  51. ^ Ejercito de Tierra español
  52. ^ TREVIÑO MARTÍNEZ, Rafael: "Afganistán: ¿qué está fallando?", FUERZA TERRESTRE n.39, march 2007
  53. ^ "Turkey says no more troops for Afghanistan"
  54. ^ "Gordon Brown sparks anger by revealing SAS role in Afghanistan" The Telegraph. November 30, 2009
  55. ^
  56. ^ ISAF Troop Contribution Placement, December 5, 2007
  57. ^
  58. ^ All missions from Austrian troops (German))
  59. ^ Azerbaijani parliament voted in March to double the number of Azerbaijani peacekeepers serving in Afghanistan to 184
  60. ^ The number of Azerbaijani peacekeepers in Afghanistan likely to be increased
  61. ^ Amount of Finnish troops in Afghanistan almost doubled
  62. ^
  63. ^
  64. ^
  65. ^ a b c
  66. ^ [ Kasarna Danilovgrad: Svečanost za vojnike koji idu u Avganistan ]
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  68. ^ (Ukrainian) 7 more officers prepare to depart for Afghanistan
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  70. ^ DefenseLink News Article: Jordanian Military Helps Its Neighbors
  71. ^ NZ Army - Overseas Deployments:: Afghanistan<
  72. ^ New Zealand Police, New Zealand Police in Afghanistan (Operation Highlands), International Service Group
  73. ^
  74. ^ New Zealand Herald, SAS back in NZ, no plans to return, 22 November 2005]
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  76. ^ Afghan 'trust' in Arab troops
  77. ^
  78. ^
  79. ^
  80. ^
  81. ^ [ "Colombia To Aid U.S. In Taliban Fight"]. CBS. 2009-07-27. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  82. ^
  83. ^ Last Swiss officers back from Afghanistan - swissinfo
  84. ^ [taliban]Troop Pullout From Afghanistan Starts
  85. ^ S. Korea to complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan next month: International: Home
  86. ^ "South Korea confirms new troops for Afghanistan"
  87. ^ "Taliban warns S Korea not to send more troops to Afghanistan"
  88. ^
  89. ^ New York Times
  90. ^ New York Times
  91. ^ Netherlands confirms 2010 Afghanistan pullout
  92. ^ Marquand, Robert (22 February 2010). "Dutch government collapse: Will other European troops now leave Afghanistan?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  93. ^ Canada PM: Troops Home From Afghanistan in 2011
  94. ^ a b
  95. ^ a b
  96. ^ a b
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  98. ^ a b c d [4] NATO ISAF missions, - 03 September 2009.
  99. ^ ISAF in Afghanistan CDI, Terrorism Project - 14 February 2002.
  100. ^ More Dutch troops for Afghanistan BBC - 3 February 2006
  101. ^ International Security Assistance Force
  102. ^ Afghan conflict deaths quadruple BBC - Monday, 13 November 2006
  103. ^ Nato hails shift on Afghan combat BBC - 29 November 2006
  104. ^ U.S. general in Afghanistan seen tough on Taliban REUTERS - 5 February 2007
  105. ^ ISAF and Afghan Forces launch major operation in the South NATO Press release - 6 March 2007 and Nato in major anti-Taleban drive BBC - 6 March 2007


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