Nato set to launch operation in Afghanistan.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) is all set to launch a first ever operation outside Europe in the alliance's 54-year history by taking over on Monday the command of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF), officials in Brussels told.
The operation will continue to work under the United Nations mandate and the ISAF banner, and the alliance will continue to welcome non-Nato contributors. The Nato troops have already arrived in Kabul in early July and have been working there to prepare the mission headquarters, Nato officials announced.
Up to now every six months a volunteer nation took over command of the operation, establishing new command and control mechanisms. Now Nato will provide continuous command, coordination and planning with a headquarters on the ground in Kabul.
Nato agreed in April to expand its support for ISAF. The alliance will be responsible for the planning and command of the peacekeeping force. This includes providing a force commander and headquarters.
Commenting on the nature of the operation, Nato Secretary General Lord Robertson said, "what will happen is that there will be a continuation and that will be able to deliver much more sustainable presence in Kabul, without an endless rotation of lead nations every six months.
[Source: By Zia Iqbal Shahid, Jang (Pakistan), August 8, 2003]
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