NATO plans to handover security to the Afghan forces by the end of 2013 and to retain a supporting role, ready to intervene, until the end of 2014, according to the Chicago Summit’s final declaration.
From a combat to a support role
“In the course of 2013 we expect the Afghan security forces to gain full control of the country; with the Afghan forces’ stepping to the forefront, ours can take a step back, sihfting from a combat to a support role”, explained NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “At the end of 2014 our operations will terminate and the ISAF mission will end”, he added. NATO will nevertheless maintain a presence into 2015 for the training and support of Afghan troops. “We remain committed to our goal: a safe and democratic Afghanistan in a stable region”, he continued.
Italy is being represented in Chicago by Minister Giulio Terzi, who had a meeting in the margins of the summit with his Pakistani colleague Hina Rabbani Khar. The two agreed that stability in Afghanistan after 2014 and completion of the withdrawal of all ISAF troops “is in the common interests of Italy and Pakistan”, and that civilian assistance and regional collaboration will be two major factors in the stabilization of Afghanistan after 2014.
At the Chicago meeting, the allies also launched the first operational phase of a missile defence system that will be capable by the end of 2015 of defending the countries and populations of its 28 member countries from the growing threat of missiles from “hostile neighbours”, and approved over 20 multinational projects, including the purchase of a fleet of surveillance drones (AGS) and demining robots, as part of a “smart defence” strategy, based on more cooperation and reduced waste, launched two years ago at the Lisbon summit to ensure adequate security levels in times of austerity. Rasmussen also pointed out that NATO’s invitation to Russia to cooperate on the missile-defence system “remains valid”, and that the alliance hoped that Moscow would decide to join the front against this common threat.