Foreign Ministers address lessons learned from NATO’s engagement in Afghanistan

NATO

Meeting in Riga on Wednesday (1 December 2021), NATO Foreign Ministers discussed the lessons learned from the Alliance’s engagement in Afghanistan over almost two decades. Following the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and forces in August, a comprehensive political and military assessment was conducted over the autumn, with the active involvement of Allies and experts.

The assessment found that NATO’s engagement in Afghanistan demonstrated immense capacity and military capabilities, and that in an increasingly complex security environment, crisis management should remain a core task for NATO. It also concluded that the international community’s level of ambition in Afghanistan extended far beyond degrading terrorist safe havens, and that in future, Allies should continuously assess strategic interests, set achievable goals, and remain aware of the dangers of mission expansion. The assessment makes a number of other recommendations, including on maintaining interoperability with operational partners; considering the political and cultural norms of host nations, as well as their ability to absorb capacity-building and training; and ensuring timely reporting and meaningful consultations. It also suggests that NATO should consider how to strengthen its capabilities to conduct short-notice, large-scale evacuation operations in the future.

The assessment’s key conclusions and recommendations are intended to inform NATO’s political and military leaders as they consider and direct future crisis management operations.

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