NATO agrees to Afghan mission leadership to 2007
Bruxelles, October 20, 2004 - NATO nations have agreed a rota for leadership of its
Afghanistan peacekeeping force up to 2007 to try to improve planning for the mission, which has suffered from a reluctance of some countries to contribute.
Turkey, Italy, Britain and Spain have come forward to lead the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for six to eight months each when the multinational Eurocorps hands over the reins in February 2005, an official said on Wednesday.
A similar rotation plan had also been agreed to run Kabul International Airport, a vital hub for military operations in the country. The first three nations to take on the task are Turkey, Romania and the Czech Republic.
NATO took over the multinational ISAF force in 2003 and has boosted troop numbers to 9,000 for this month's presidential election. It operates alongside the 20,000-strong U.S-led Operation Enduring Freedom in the country.
NATO aims to wind down troops levels after the relatively peaceful presidential vote but to redeploy for parliamentary elections early next year that are also seen threatened by violence.
The leadership rota is intended to reassure volunteers that they will be able to hand over to someone else and is implicit acknowledgement that the alliance will not be leaving the country any time soon.