The growing difficulties facing the NATO mission in Afghanistan had by mid-decade led to increases in commitment and innovations in policy. Pressure on allies to make more robust military commitments mounted, coupled with policy innovations designed to meet the growing insurgency with more appropriate strategies and better use of resources. The 2006 Riga summit endorsement of a strategy that stressed the integration of military and civilian policy elements was an important step in this development. While the terminology and its implications differed (American policy-makers were already talking of ‘counter-insurgency’, while their European counterparts preferred ‘comprehensive’, ‘integrated’ or ‘whole of government’ approach), the Riga meeting signified a broadening as well as a deepening commitment of the alliance. In the years that followed, each NATO member and other allies struggled to adjust their policy to deal with often conflicting contexts and demands – a worsening situation on the ground, demands for alliance solidarity and awareness that NATO’s prestige was on the line in Afghanistan, an increasingly critical public at home as casualties were rising, and growing concern over the economic costs of the war.
The papers in this series examine the strategies of four NATO members in this regard. Each case study first contextualizes their Afghanistan engagement in light of the broader foreign policy concerns of the country concerned, and then focuses on the development and adjustment of military strategy in relation to other components of the engagement. In this respect, special attention is given to the importance of realities on the ground in Afghanistan, organizational (NATO) interests, and domestic factors. The story is taken up to the NATO Lisbon summit meeting in November 2010, which marked the counter-point to Riga by announcing that security responsibility would be transferred to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.
- A Peace Nation Takes Up Arms: The Norwegian Engagement in Afghanistan, PRIO Paper by Kristian Bergen Harpviken
- A Reluctant Warrior: The German Engagement in Afghanistan, PRIO Paper by Michael Harsch
- Defining the Mission: The US Engagement in Afghanistan, PRIO Paper by Astri Suhrke
- Faithful Ally: The UK Engagement in Afghanistan, PRIO Paper by Astri Suhrke
What are the implications of this analysis for NATO’s role in out-of-area, unconventional engagements? This question is addressed in two policy briefs:
- Power Prevails: The Failure of Whole-of-Government Approaches in Afghanistan, PRIO Policy Brief by Kristian Berg Harpviken
- Disjointed Incrementalism: NATO in Afghanistan, PRIO Policy brief by Astri Suhrke
The papers were commissioned by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Additional financial support was received from The Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF) and the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF).