Afghanistan, Smart Defence dominate NATO summit

During the first session of its Chicago summit yesterday, the Alliance declared continued support to Afghanistan after 2014 and announced an interim ballistic missile defence capability to be in place, despite opposition from Russia.

“Our system will link together missile defence assets from different allies - satellites, ships, radars and interceptors - under NATO command and control,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, calling it the first step toward a long-term goal of providing full coverage and protection for all NATO European territory.

Allies also agreed to jointly acquire five unarmed drones to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information to military commanders and approved a package of more than 20 multinational projects to provide capabilities at an affordable price for NATO. This includes the purchase of remote-controlled robots to clear roadside bombs.

Although formal meetings on Afghanistan were not scheduled until today, new French president Francois Hollande announced the withdrawal of all 3,300 French troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year and some NATO members pledged aid to help Afghan forces. The estimated cost of sustaining the reduced force was set at about $4.1 billion annually, half of which the United States would provide. Afghanistan would pay about $500 million.

Douglas Lute, a senior White House advisor on Afghanistan, said the next 6 to 12 months in the transition process will be crucial as Afghans will take the lead in areas where the Taliban are the strongest, including areas along the Pakistan border, which is to re-open U.S. supply routes to Afghanistan.

A new document titled “NATO Forces 2020” is to set NATO’s priorities for investing in capabilities over the next decade.

The outcome of the summit will be discussed at the SDA’s upcoming ‘After Chicago: Re-evaluating NATO's priorities’ conference this Friday.

Picture credits:
© CC- BY-SA-2.5,2.0,1.0; 2012-05-20 Chad J. McNeeley and US Department of Defense
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