Fifty-four years ago, NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was formed to stop the spread of Communism in Europe. Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, NATO has been taking new actions to meet new threats.
For the first time, NATO is pursuing missions outside of Europe. Recently, NATO assumed the leadership of the United Nations-mandated force providing security in and around Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.
The NATO force is led by Lieutenant General Goetz Gliemeroth of Germany, with Major General Andrew Leslie of Canada as his deputy. It includes fifteen NATO allies and fourteen NATO partner countries.
Afghanistan was the first major battlefield in the global war on terrorism. It was the first place the international community came together to begin undoing the damage wrought by the Taleban and al-Qaida terrorist groups, and root out terrorism at its source. Now, as President George W. Bush has said, “Afghanistan is no longer a haven for terror, the Taleban is history, and the Afghan people are free”:
“As NATO assumes a leading role in keeping Afghanistan secure, we’re helping with the reconstruction and the founding of a democratic government. We’re making steady progress in Afghanistan. New roads are being built, medical clinics are opening. There are new schools in Afghanistan where many young girls are now going to school for the first time.”
Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah has welcomed NATO’s presence in Afghanistan. He says it will “strengthen the foundations of peace, stability and security” in the country. The U.S. joins its coalition partners, NATO, the U-N, and others in a shared commitment to a more secure, prosperous, and democratic future for the Afghan people.