Nato and Afghanistan


NATO is leading a non-combat mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions. The Resolute Support Mission (RSM) was launched in January 2015, following the completion of the mission of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in December 2014, when responsibility for security in Afghanistan was transferred to the Afghan national defence and security forces. Beyond supporting RSM, NATO Allies and partners are helping to sustain Afghan security forces and institutions financially, as part of a broader international commitment to Afghanistan. The NATO-Afghanistan Enduring Partnership provides a framework for wider political dialogue and practical cooperation.


  • NATO led the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from August 2003 to December 2014. ISAF’s mission was to enable the Afghan authorities and build the capacity of the Afghan national security forces to provide effective security, so as to ensure that Afghanistan would never again be a safe haven for terrorists.
  • ISAF is NATO’s longest and most challenging mission to date: at its height, the force was more than 130,000 strong with troops from 50 NATO and partner nations.
  • ISAF also contributed to reconstruction and development in Afghanistan through 28 multinational Provincial Reconstruction Teams – led by individual ISAF nations – securing areas, outside of Kabul in the provinces, in which reconstruction work was conducted by national and international actors.
  • The transition to Afghan lead for security started in 2011 and was completed in December 2014, when the ISAF operation ended and the Afghans assumed full responsibility for security of their country. By the end of 2014, PRTs had been phased out and their functions were handed over to Afghan authorities. In January 2015, NATO launched the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces and institutions. Currently, it numbers around 17,000 troops from 39 NATO Allies and partner countries.
  • Allied leaders decided at the July 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw to sustain the presence of RSM beyond 2016.
  • At the July 2018 NATO Summit in Brussels, NATO welcomed two new troop-contributing nations, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, which are currently finalising the details of their offers to contribute. The Allies and their operational partners committed to sustaining the mission until conditions indicate a change is appropriate; to extending financial sustainment of the Afghan security forces through 2024; and to making further progress on developing a political and practical partnership with Afghanistan.
  • The Enduring Partnership is NATO’s political partnership with Afghanistan. It was set up in 2010 at the NATO Summit in Lisbon. At the 2016 Summit, Allies decided to strengthen and enhance the Partnership, within and alongside RSM, through political dialogue and practical cooperation. In the longer term, a traditional partnership with Afghanistan remains NATO’s goal.
  • NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative represents the political leadership of the Alliance in Kabul, liaising with the government, civil society, representatives of the international community and neighbouring countries. The Representative has a leading role in advising the Afghan authorities on the Enduring Partnership.