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In Vilnius experts of NATO countries discussed future plans for the multinational mission in Afghanistan




Representatives of ISAF troop-contributing NATO countries discussed in the consultations held in Vilnius on December 8-9 military and civilian tools to be implemented in the western part of Afghanistan. Provincial reconstruction teams ensuring security in the region are led by the USA, Spain, Italy and Lithuania.


Participants of the conference expressed hope that in 2010 Afghanistan will see pivotal progress in upgrading security, government and development of the country, additional attention will be paid to coordination of military and civilian reconstruction activities in the country.


Vice Minister of National Defence Vytautas Umbrasas in his speech in the conference said that the main challenge of the international community in 2010 will be delivering more security in the east and west of the country, and increasing support for strengthening capacities of Afghan institutions so that in the future central and regional administration could take full responsibility for ruling the country.


The necessity of better coordination of ISAF countries' actions as well as actions of ISAF and the Afghan Government was also stressed so that confidence of local inhabitants in international forces and their Government would increase.

The two-day consultations held in Vilnius pulled together more than 60 participants: representatives of countries running PRTs and countries contributing to ISAF's activities in the responsibility region of ISAF Regional Command West, members of the NATO Headquarters in Brussels and military commands in Europe and Afghanistan, the EU Police Mission in Afghanistan, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and other institutions and organisations. The event was organised by Ministries of National Defence and Foreign Affairs of Lithuania.


The consultations were held to process an exhaustive discussion over the security situation and challenges faced by civilian and military personnel of ISAF operation in West Afghanistan, and to share experience and concert positions on future plans of the operation.


In the conference the new strategy of the US President Barack Obama on Afghanistan and Pakistan announced on December 1 was discussed; the new strategy covers sending additional 30 thousand of American troops, increasing the number of civilian experts and assistance sent to reconstruct Afghanistan as well as to expand partnership with Pakistan.


Currently over 40 countries take part in the International Security Assistance Force operation in Afghanistan. Their forces are divided into five regions: North, South, West, East and the capital Kabul. The Italian-led ISAF Regional Command West is responsible for four provinces, including Ghowr where Lithuania has been operating a Provincial Reconstruction Team since summer of 2005. Lithuania maintains a military contingent of 150 members. The main goal of the Lithuanian-led Chaghcharan PRT is helping Afghan Government extend its authority in the province, ensuring security and providing environment for provincial reconstruction.Lithuanian personnel provides security in Ghowr together with Danish, Georgian, Japanese, American, Croatian, Romanian, and Ukrainian military and civilians members. The tenth shift of the PRT is currently deployed to the province. Lithuanian Special Operations Forces Squadron serves in ISAF operation in the south of Afghanistan. It is the largest international operation that Lithuania has been a part of both in terms of deployed personnel and funding provided for the operation and development cooperation projects.


Picture by Alfredas Pliadis.

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