NATO's ISAF Mission continues to wind down

Dec 8, 2014

KABUL, Afghanistan — Senior Afghan and coalition officials and guests gathered at North Kabul International Airport on a crisp Monday morning to observe the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command’s end-of-mission ceremony.

A coalition honor guard presented the colors of IJC and the U.S. Army’s 18th Airborne Corps.  The IJC colors were then retired, cased and presented to the ISAF Commander, U.S. Army Gen. John F. Campbell.

The ceremony was presided by IJC Commander, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson.  General Anderson was joined by the ISAF Command Sergeant Major, Command Sgt. Maj. Isaia T. Vimoto as IJC’s final command team.

Established in November 2009, IJC served as NATO’s operational headquarters in Afghanistan. At its peak, IJC controlled over 130,000 troops from more than 40 nations across six regional commands.  

"Everyone made a tremendous sacrifice, but those sacrifices have not been in vain. This country is safer and more prosperous than ever. The insurgents have been beaten back and the Afghan national security forces are taking the fight to the enemy," said General Anderson.

IJC worked in partnership with a team that was composed of the Afghan National Security Forces and coalition troop-contributing nations in the shared goal of neutralizing the insurgency in specific locations and improving governance and development for the benefit of the people of Afghanistan.

An important milestone was reached in 2012 when IJC provided support to its Afghan partners as they drafted their first campaign plan, "Operation Naweed.” The operational campaign was the first designed, planned, and implemented by the Afghan military to cover all security matters for the coming year.

End of Mission Ceremony for ISAF Joint Command - Photo courtesy of ISAF HQ Public Affairs Office

IJC worked with all its partners, particularly the ANSF, to build success at the grass roots level.  These combined efforts set the stage for larger successes allowing the ANSF to take the lead in securing their nation.  

The ANSF were the primary element enabling the Afghan population to participate in national elections, resulting in the first peaceful transfer of power in the nation’s history.

Examples of ANSF progress were easy to see as a variety of Afghan Air Force aircraft including C-208s, PC-9s, a C-130, and Mi-17s departed the airfield on regularly-scheduled flights during the ceremony. Afghanistan’s air power capabilities were non-existent a decade earlier; now the AAF operates a fleet of over 100 fixed and rotary aircraft with more on the way.

As IJC stands down, its Regional Commands have already been replaced with Train-Advise-Assist Commands, which focus on ensuring the gains made by the ANSF are sustainable and lasting.  

The Train-Advise-Assist method of operations will become the central focus as ISAF continues its scheduled transition to the NATO-led Resolute Support mission next year.

"Today, IJC will be subsumed into a coalition that is soon downsizing to about 13,000 personnel," said Gen. John F. Campbell, Commander ISAF.  "This is a historic transformation and reflects the progress that our coalition has made with our Afghan partners.  As the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have become increasingly capable, we shift our focus from combat operations to building (ANSF) systems and processes to ensure long term sustainability.”  

Additionally, Resolute Support signals the international community’s continued support and commitment for the success and stability of a sovereign Afghanistan.
Story by Capt. Frank Hartnett, USAF
ISAF HQ Public Affairs Office


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