Afghan and international military forces are protecting the Afghan population from an insurgency which is predominantly in the south and east of the country, so that legitimate governance can develop – preventing the return of the Taliban to power and creating a more stable and secure country.
There are currently nearly 120,000 international troops drawn from 46 nations in Afghanistan. The UK currently has a declared strength of 9,500 service personnel, drawn from all three services, mainly located in the south of the country as part of ISAF, the NATO led mission operating under UN Security Council approval.
International troops are focussing their efforts on building the capacity and capability of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). As this happens, more parts of the country can transition to Afghan control (Kabul is already controlled by the Afghan National Army (ANA)). The ANA has grown to around 130,000 (June 2010) and its capacity has increased considerably. The Afghan National Police (ANP) has grown to over 105,000, though challenges remain in improving its capability.
A number of agreements between the international community and the Afghan Government were made in January 2010. There would be a phased transition to Afghan security lead; targets were agreed for significant increases in the ANA and Police Force. The ANA would be increased to 171,000 and the ANP to 134,000 by the end of 2011, taking total security force numbers to over 300,000.
Operation Moshtarak, a joint ISAF and ANSF operation with UK troops working alongside US, Danish, Estonian and Afghan troops continues to make progress. Its aim is to extend the authority and influence of the Afghan Government in Central Helmand where a large portion of the population of Helmand province lives and allow reconstruction and a return to normality for the population.
The Afghan government is embarked on a major drive in Kandahar (Hamkari) to improve public services and rule of law, to encourage the people to turn to the government, not the Taliban, to deliver security, justice and a better quality of life. This Afghan-led political surge is being enabled by increasing security delivered by Afghan and international forces (mainly US).