NATO in Afghanistan: A Test of the Transatlantic Alliance [Updated March 11, 2009] [open pdf - 572KB]
"The mission of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Afghanistan is 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 mission has proven difficult because it must take place while combat operations against Taliban insurgents continue. [...]. 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. [...]. Most observers predict that ISAF's efforts to stabilize Afghanistan will require a long-term commitment. The Obama Administration has made the conflict a policy priority, has committed an additional 17,000 U.S. military forces, is seeking additional support from the NATO allies, and is attempting to implement new, more effective strategies for addressing the conflict. U.S. leadership in Afghanistan may well affect NATO's cohesiveness, credibility and its future. In 2008, Congress appropriated $31 billion for the conflict in Afghanistan (H.R. 2642/P.L. 110-252). The 111th Congress will likely support the new Administration's policies in Afghanistan, but may seek a more coherent plan for integration, stabilization, and reconstruction operations. This report will be updated as needed."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33627