NATO-led force to assume peacekeeping command in Kabul
Stars and Stripes June 30, 2003
CASTEAU, Belgium — At a NATO commander’s conference this month, British army Gen. Jack Deverell spoke of his staff's role in supporting a peacekeeping force in Afghanistan and how it has “a new spring in its step.”
Deverell, the commander-in-chief of Allied Forces Northern Europe, and his staff now have a pair of commanders to work with as the new NATO mission to Afghanistan begins to take shape.
Command of the international peacekeeping contingent in Kabul is slated to pass Aug. 11 from a German-Netherlands unit to a NATO force led by German army Lt. Gen. Goetz Gliemeroth. Canadian army Maj. Gen. Andrew Leslie will serve as deputy commander of what NATO calls the International Stabilization and Assistance Force.
U.S. Marine Gen. James L. Jones, the supreme allied commander Europe, announced the appointments last week.
“We’re going in with a clear understanding of what we’ve been asked to do,” Jones told reporters following the commander’s conference.
Gliemeroth and Leslie will lead a force of roughly 5,000, said German Lt. Col. Hartmut Beilmann, a NATO spokesman. The current multinational force numbers about 4,600.
In all, the coalition has roughly 11,500 troops in Afghanistan, most of them U.S. servicemembers based at Bagram airfield.
The main role of the NATO force will be to assist the reconstruction efforts of the Afghan Transitional Authority in such areas as security and training of its national army.
Deverell said at the commander’s conference two weeks ago that he wants “to get away from this idea that our influence is defined by lines on the ground.” The current international force operates primarily in and around Kabul, the Afghan capital.
Soon after the NATO-led force gets settled, the Afghans’ will convene a Loya Jirga, or a grand council, in October. In addition, an election is tentatively scheduled for early next year.