The International Security Assistance Force

When the Taliban was ousted in 2001, much of the city of Kabul was in chaos. Security was essential in helping people to resume normal lives. Moreover, the plan to hold democratic elections also required a stable environment. Consequently, in December 2001 an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was authorized by the UN to support the Bonn Process.

The ISAF is presently under NATO command. The UK, Turkey, Germany, Canada and 36 other nations have contributed over 47,000 troops.

In Kabul, ISAF works toward stabilizing daily life, reducing crime, training police and assessing basic needs such as schools, medical facilities and water supplies.

Daily city-wide patrols form a large part of ISAF's responsibilities. One third of patrols are performed jointly with Kabul City Police officers. When possible, the international soldiers talk directly with local people, as much to detect needs as to establish trust.

ISAF also cooperates with the local population and authorities by running Civil Military Cooperation projects. Troops assess existing infrastructure, then engage local contractors to rebuild.

Initially, ISAF operations were limited to Kabul and its vicinity. Since 2003, however, the military component of several Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) has been integrated into the ISAF chain of command, making it active in other regions of the country.

Before the international force leaves the country, the new Afghan National Army (ANA) is expected to become capable of assuring national security. At present, the ANA and ISAF coordinate their efforts. For example, on August 15, 2004, ANA troops intervened in factional conflict between warlords near Herat. Resolving the conflict was the ANA's job; ISAF helped by airlifting Afghan troops to the region.