International Security Assistance Force


December 6, 2021

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was a multinational force in Afghanistan consisting of about 130,930 soldiers and support personnel (the majority, about 90,000, were US troops) under the command of General John R. Allen. The previous commander was David Petraeus. ISAF is sanctioned by the UN Security Council but is not a UN peacekeeping mission. The UN sanctioned ISAF in December 2001 through the Bonn Agreement with the aim of securing Kabul and the nearby Bagram airport from Taliban and al-Qaeda elements as well as insurgent warlords; this to enable the Afghan transitional government led by Hamid Karzai to function. It is a common misconception that the ISAF force is a UN peacekeeping force, but that is not true, but ISAF is on a security mission. On December 28, 2014, ISAF was transformed into the Resolute Support Mission. For almost two years, ISAF's mandate was limited to Kabul. Responsibility for security throughout Afghanistan would be given to the newly established Afghan National Army. However, on 13 October 2003, the Security Council voted to extend ISAF's mandate beyond Kabul. On October 24, the German Bundestag decided to send German troops to the Kunduz region. About 230 extra troops were sent to that region and it was the first time ISAF operated outside Kabul. As of November 18, 2010, 2,220 ISAF soldiers had died in service in Afghanistan, the largest proportion of Americans (1,395) followed by 345 Britons. Six Swedish soldiers have also died in the country.



The management of ISAF originally rotated between different countries for periods of six months. However, it proved difficult to find countries to lead ISAF, and on 11 August 2003 the leadership was handed over to NATO. This meant NATO's first deployment outside Europe and the United States. On the same day, Nicholas Burns, the US ambassador to NATO, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that ISAF's mandate should be extended beyond Kabul. An alternative he proposed was to involve NATO in US-led provincial reconstruction teams that were already handling security outside Kabul. However, NATO spokesman Mark Laity insisted that NATO adhere to ISAF's Kabul-focused mandate.

Participating countries

All troop figures are current from 5 March 2010 and are approximate as the exact number of soldiers in the country varies from day to day.

Territorial division of responsibilities

See also

The Swedish operation in Afghanistan United States Central Command


External links

Official website

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