COMMANDER RESOLUTE SUPPORT MISSION

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1 COMMANDER RESOLUTE SUPPORT MISSION UNCLASSIFIED UPDATE (January-April 2015) Resolute Support is a NATO-led, non-combat mission launched on 1 January It is designed to help the Afghan security forces and institutions further develop the necessary capacity to continue defending the country and protecting the population in a sustainable manner. It carries out training, advice, and assistance activities at the security ministries and national institutional levels, and at the higher levels of the Army and Police. Commander s Assessment At the end of the Resolute Support mission s first 120 days, we report successful transition from NATO s combat mission to one focused on a Train, Advise, and Assist (TAA) model. Resolute Support has approximately 12,000 personnel from NATO Allies and Partners, operating with one hub (Kabul/Bagram) and four spokes: Mazar-e-Sharif in the north, Herat in the west, Kandahar in the south, and Laghman in the east. Resolute Support represents an important shift in the way we continue to build Afghan national defense and security capabilities. Instead of the traditional combat staff organization (personnel, intelligence, operations, logistics, plans, communications, training), we now focus on eight Essential Functions that enable effective and sustainable security and governance: Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution; Internal Controls: Assuring Transparency, Accountability, and Oversight; Rule of Law and Governance; Force Generation: Recruit, Train Retain, Manage, and Develop; Force Sustainment; Command and Control Operations; Intelligence; and Strategic Communication. President Ghani s inauguration on 29 September 2014 reflected a democratic transition from one administration to another. During this significant transition, Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) did an exceptional job in securing the country, reassuring all Afghans that their government and security institutions are capable of protecting the population to Date President Ghani s recent (22-26 March) visit to the United States resulted in the announcement that U.S. forces are welcome to remain in their current capacity through This enables support to ANDSF forces to the end of It further lends flexibility to the current transition plan, whereby Resolute Support will be gradually limited to a Kabul-centric presence. ANDSF s early spring offensive, Operation ZILFIQAR, demonstrated Afghan capabilities in planning, resourcing, and conducting offensive operations Afghan soldiers remain unvanquished in battle. against a beleaguered but still relevant insurgent threat. Operations in North Helmand lasted for 45 days from early March to mid-april, at which point ANDSF 1

2 leaders began planning the next operation in the Zabul/Ghazni seam (Operation BADAR). Afghanistan's increasingly proactive approach to finding and eliminating threats to Afghan security and governing institutions is an important step, even if it means a temporary increase in ANDSF casualties: the rolling weekly average for ANDSF casualties in 2015 thus far is approximately 60-70% higher than the same period in The Afghan people have displayed outstanding determination and courage in the face of a ruthless enemy. Continued ANDSF offensive operations to retain control of Afghan soil and to protect the population, as well as successful recruitment, training, and employment of ANDSF forces, demonstrate the people s and the government s commitment to peace and independence. A slight increase in Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks reflects the insurgents inability to orchestrate major military maneuvers against the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. Insurgents conduct of random high-profile attacks against soft targets has caused an alarming increase in civilian casualties. Insurgent attacks in Kabul are up 60%, but in the broader national context, these indiscriminate attacks represent less than 5% of insurgent activity across the country. The recently published UNAMA report on civilian casualties states that 72% of the civilian casualties in 2014 can be attributed to anti-government elements (AGE) such as the Taliban. This fact is not lost on the average Afghan, more than three-quarters of whom support the ANDSF and demonstrate confidence in ANDSF s ability to protect the population. According to the United Nations Special Representative for Afghanistan the continuing use of suicide attacks in densely populated areas that are certain to kill and maim large numbers of Afghan civilians, may amount to a war crime. Because of insurgent groups inability to Afghan forces serve the people of Afghanistan. challenge ANDSF in outright combat, we believe that high profile attacks particularly among innocent civilians in urban centers will continue throughout 2015 as different insurgent groups struggle to demonstrate their relevance and operational reach. Recent events in Kunduz have demonstrated the government s ability to respond to emerging threats while maintaining ongoing security operations throughout the nation. The Taliban still pose a threat to peace, stability, and security in Afghanistan, but there are signs of internal dissent as well as competition among insurgent groups for attention and influence. The Haqqani Network, a critical enabler of al Qaeda, affiliates, and associated movements, continues to present one of the greatest risks to Coalition forces, especially in the east. Extremist groups will continue attempts to establish their presence in Afghanistan, and to challenge the Afghan government. The reported presence of elements associating themselves with Daesh demonstrates how the nature of the threat continues to evolve. The suicide attack on Jalalabad on 18 April, in which more than 30 people were killed and more than 100 injured, is an example of the changing threat. Although there are global fears of the spread of extremism, NATO-led forces and Afghan counterparts continue to monitor global developments closely; Afghan efforts to reconcile, reintegrate, and assimilate former insurgents also continue. The potential for insurgent rebranding exists, mainly as a result of Taliban infighting and ineffectual leadership. As we head into the summer months, we find Afghan forces poised and ready to engage with all enemies of Afghanistan. Although ANDSF attrition has been a concern, recruitment and retention efforts have ensured that the growth of ANDSF forces has outpaced attrition since November The Afghan National Army 2

3 currently stands at approximately 174,000 personnel, the Afghan National Police stands at approximately 154,000, and local police forces stand at a strength of about 28,000. Progress There have been several positive developments in Afghan capabilities since Afghans took over combat operations: The Afghan Air Force (AAF) has fielded several new aircraft, with pilot and crew training and qualifications ongoing. On 9 April, the AAF fielded six new MD-530 helicopters, which will give Afghans enhanced close air support (CAS) capabilities during combat. The MD-530 fleet will grow to an end strength of 17, joining 86 Mi-17s, 5 Mi-35s, 18 PC-12s, 25 C-208s, 4 C-130s, and 20 A-29s. Increased air power benefits combat operations as well as casualty evacuation, which has a dramatic effect on survivability Challenges MD-530 helicopters provide close-air support to ANDSF operations. for the wounded in remote parts of the country. The Afghans will also assume the lead in Airspace Management this year. ANDSF capabilities now extend into humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. This capability demonstrates the government s commitment to the people in war and peace, in combat and in all-season disaster response. Afghans produce, process, and disseminate their own intelligence. The Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC) has a capable force of more than 10,000 soldiers. The professionalization of Afghan Security Institution (ASI) schools benefits the overall ANDSF effort. Operational planning and execution have shown definite improvement. Gender Integration initiatives must continue to develop. The Afghan National Army graduated its first female officer class (21 women) in June 2014, and the Afghan National Police graduated 200 women in a Turkish training program in February. The Nowruz (Solar New Year) celebrations in late March demonstrated the government s continued commitment to peace, stability, and tolerance as ANDSF forces ran successful security operations to protect major population centers during Nowruz activities. As a result, the Nowruz period passed peacefully and without major incident or insurgent attack. ANDSF capacities to recruit, train, retain, and employ forces in support of security, national defense, and the rule of law are continuously improving. Our TAA effort has identified several areas in which Afghan capacities need further development: Planning and budgeting: Resolute Support advisors are implementing a subject-matter expert program that will bridge gaps in expertise until this crucial area attains sustainable capability. Transparency, accountability, and oversight: This area must continue to show dramatic improvement as international presence and financial support levels decrease. The national government has 3

4 demonstrated an awareness of fraud, waste, and abuse, and continues to place emphasis on responsible stewardship of resources. Governance and the rule of law are longstanding concerns in a country that has traditionally been divided along ethnic lines, relying on traditional and cultural codes of conduct rather than a unifying sense of law. The brutal murder of Farkhunda Malikzada in Kabul on 19 March 2015 brought religious and gender-based frictions to the foreground of national dialogue. Despite the potential for greater violence posed by subsequent protests, cooler heads prevailed. The national government demonstrated its commitment to the rule of law by proceeding with the nationally televised 2 May 2015 trial of 49 murder suspects, 19 of whom are police officers accused of failing to prevent the attack. ANDSF tactical level command and control has been effective, as demonstrated in recent operations. However, cross-pillar coordination still needs improvement to ensure synchronization of operations at the strategic level, and the process is still extremely top-down driven. Operation ZILFIQAR in Northern Helmand demonstrated that although offensive operations are effective in clearing terrain of insurgent threats, a whole-of-government approach to security and reconstruction in the build phase of operations is necessary to demonstrate the Afghan authorities commitment to the Afghan people. Logistics and sustainment remain challenging in Afghanistan. The Afghans must develop a more robust and sustainable procurement and maintenance system. External communications capabilities must continue to develop in order to ensure that officers working at both the strategic and tactical levels can engage with the public and the media in a systematic and coordinated fashion. Relocation of units and optimization of facilities must improve. As Resolute Support transitions to a Kabul-centric presence, Afghans must look critically at what they need for continued security operations throughout the country, reducing or eliminating installations and checkpoints accordingly. Appointment of leaders is a deliberative process in Afghanistan, and delays in appointments of leaders have been counterproductive at times. Security Update Living conditions in Afghanistan are the best they have been in decades. Contrary to many alarmists warnings in 2014, there has been no descent into chaos with the end of the NATO combat mission here. In fact, an overwhelming number of Afghans express satisfaction with improvements in security, stability, and opportunity, and the ANDSF is the most respected pillar of government in Afghanistan. No ANDSF unit has been defeated or rendered combat ineffective, and public opinion of ANDSF remains high (above 80%), while opinion of Taliban remains low (approximately 10% nationwide). Afghan efforts to improve relations and cooperation with Pakistan are showing early signs of promise, particularly in addressing evolving insurgent threats. Following the December 2014 school attack in Peshawar, ANA and ANP leaders met Pakistani counterparts in January 2015 with favorable results, and Pakistani military operations near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border are complementary with current Afghan security efforts. For some key indicators of improved conditions in Afghanistan, please refer to this report s annex, Afghanistan, Then and Now. Looking Forward The Resolute Support mission will continue to increase Afghan efficiencies and overall effectiveness towards long-term self-sustainment. Manning levels and mission requirements must allow for a gradual decrease in 4

5 international presence matched by a correlative increase in Afghan capabilities following fighting season this year. This fall, we will begin shaping the evolution of NATO presence in Afghanistan toward a Kabul-centric model, with TAA functions that are capable of deploying throughout the country, supported by a leaner staff. We have begun a force analysis that will enable us to respond effectively to NATO and US decisions, agreements, and guidance for the future. Key factors affecting our success include troop levels, infrastructure changes, redeployment of troops and equipment, and support to Afghan self-sustainment efforts, all of which will be covered by the appropriate authorizations and status agreements among NATO, Troop Contributing Nations, and our Afghan partners. ANDSF gender integration initiatives uphold constitutional equality is an important year for Afghanistan. Much work remains to close gaps in ANDSF capability. The Afghans must and will do their part demonstrating the leadership, accountability, and transparency required to garner and maintain the trust of the international community whose support is critical to continued progress. NATO allies, partners, and the larger international community must demonstrate the resolve and continued commitment requisite to foster increasingly sustainable Afghan security and stability. 5

6 ANNEX: Afghanistan, Then and Now A few simple comparisons between 2001 (under the Taliban) and 2015 (under the National Unity Government) give us a sense of the improvement of living conditions in Afghanistan since the initiation of the ISAF/Resolute Support presence here. The following statistics are derived from various reports, including NATO progress indicators and Brookings Institution Afghanistan Index report archives: Refugee population has declined from 6 million to 1 million Infant mortality (birth to age 5) has dropped from 16% to 9% Kabul s population has grown from under ½ million to more than 3 million Life expectancy has gone from 43 to 64 Healthcare access has jumped from 9% to 60%, with a fivefold increase in healthcare facilities (from 498 in 2001 to 2,507 in 2015) 200 times more improved roadways 42 airlines operate at four major airports (vs. only 3 airlines in 2001) Little-to-no public media in 2001 to 50 television and 150 radio stations in 2015 Zero to 6 million or more Internet users 25,000 to 22 million or more cell phone subscribers 1,000 to 14,000 or more schools (with up to 48% female enrolment) More than 150,000 university enrolments Nearly a threefold rise in literacy (12% to 33%) Growth of the economy from $2 billion to $20+ billion $150 per capita GDP to $1,110 per capita Nearly threefold increase in access to clean water (22% to 64%) 15% decrease in unemployment (50% to 35%) More than 20 automobiles per 1,000 Afghan uniformed services are greatly respected by the populace. people (up from ½ car/person in 2001) From zero to 756 commercial overflights per day on average (a revenue source) 37% of the labor force is women (from effectively 0% in 2001) Perhaps the most promising indicator of a bright future for Afghanistan is that pertaining to the nation s youth: 70% of the population is under the age of 25. The nation now has more than 7 million children enrolled in school (more than seven times that in 2001), supported by more than 180,000 teachers, 30% of whom are women. PROPONENT: DCOS COMM (10 May 15) 6

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