NATO UNCLASSIFIED RELEASABLE TO ISAF
FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
MEDIA OPERATIONS CENTRE (MOC)
Press and Media Service, NATO HQ BRUSSELS
T: +32-2-707-1002 / 10 F: +32-2-707-1399
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NATO IN AFGHANISTAN
MASTER NARRATIVE AS AT 6 October 2008
This guidance document is designed to assist all those who play a part in explaining the situation in Afghanistan and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission, but especially those who deal with the media. Ownership of this document is shared between NATO HQ, SHAPE, JFC Brunssum and HQ ISAF but certain issues should be led at the strategic level (NATO HQ/SHAPE); these are annotated as such. The Current Issues section will be updated according to the level of Alliance or public interest at the time of issue.
For ease of identification, major additions/amendments to the 18 September 2008 edition are highlighted.
- Afghanistan remains NATO’s number one priority. This is not an operation of choice, it is one of necessity. We are in Afghanistan for the long term under a United Nations mandate for as long as we are needed and welcomed by the Afghan people.
- The significant increase in security incidents this year is due to an increased use of asymmetric tactics by insurgents, an increase in the operational presence of ISAF and ANSF, and an increased freedom of action for insurgents operating from inside Pakistan. Pakistan must be part of a regional solution to the challenges faced in Afghanistan. NATO/ISAF is strengthening political contacts with Pakistan and increasing military cooperation through tripartite meetings at all levels, an enhanced ISAF-Pakistan Liaison Team, and practical coordination measures.
- The Afghan National Security Forces and ISAF are making progress on the ground. The militants  do not and cannot hold ground where they are challenged by ANSF and ISAF.
- The Afghan National Army is a significant success story. It continues to grow in number, competence, and capabilities and is approved to grow to 122,000 by 20122. Today, the majority of operations involving the ANA are Afghan-led.
- Progress in security is sustainable only with progress in all three fields of the Afghan National Development Strategy. Good governance, including the rule of law and human rights, together with economical and social development require the coordinated effort of the International Community with ever increasing Afghan ownership.
- To minimise the risk of harming civilians COM ISAF has mandated his forces to take all measures deemed necessary to avoid the loss of life. These include directions on using airpower. A new methodology of civilian casualty reporting has also been established.
- Within means and capabilities, ISAF is supporting ANSF planning, coordinating and executing security for the voter registration process during the period of October 2008 to February 2009. ISAF will provide third-line security, backing up the Afghan National Police and Army in supporting this Afghan-led process. A security plan was signed by the chairman of the Afghan Independent Election Commission along with representatives from the MoI, MoD, and ISAF on 24 Aug 08.
- ISAF’s next phased operations plan, Operation TOLO, will commence on November 1 and will run through April 1. It will build on the current Operation SHAMSHIR and will advance our shape, clear, hold, and build strategy by focusing efforts on key population areas and infrastructure, securing the population and separating the insurgency from it.
- Opposing Militant Forces is the correct term but is not suitable for use with the media. Depending on the audience and the group being referred to, the phrases militants/insurgents/extremists/Taleban extremists/enemies of Afghanistan may be used, see also para 36.
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