NATO in Afghanistan: A Test of the Transatlantic Alliance [Updated April 17, 2009] [open pdf - 584KB]
"The mission of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Afghanistan is seen by many as a test of the alliance's political will and military capabilities. Since the Washington Summit in 1999, the allies have sought to create a 'new' NATO, capable of operating beyond the European theater to combat emerging threats such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Afghanistan is NATO's first 'out-of-area' mission beyond Europe. The purpose of the mission is the stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan. […]. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) faces formidable obstacles: shoring up a weak government in Kabul; using military capabilities in a distant country with rugged terrain; and rebuilding a country devastated by war and troubled by a resilient narcotics trade. NATO's mission statement lays out the essential elements of the task of stabilizing and rebuilding the country: train the Afghan army, police, and judiciary; support the government in counter-narcotics efforts; develop a market infrastructure; and suppress the Taliban. Since 2001, ISAF has proceeded in four stages to extend its area of responsibility over the whole of Afghanistan. Although the allies agree on ISAF's mission, they have differed on how to accomplish it. Some allies do not want their forces to engage in counter-insurgency operations and have placed operational restrictions on their troops. […]. The 111th Congress will likely support the Administration's policies toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, but may demand more integration and cooperation among all parties involved in the stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33627