International Security Assistance Force

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ISAF logo; Script also in Pashtun : کمک او همکاری, Komak aw Hamkāri , "Help and Cooperation"

The International Security Assistance Force (from English International Security Assistance Force , shortly ISAF ) was a security and reconstruction mission under NATO -Führung (from 2003) in the context of the war in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014.

The list was made at the request of the participants in the first Afghanistan conference in 2001 to the international community and with the approval of the United Nations Security Council (Resolution 1386 of December 20, 2001). The mission was not a peacekeeping blue helmet mission, but a so-called peace enforcement mission under the responsibility of the states involved.

This article does not describe the military activities (→ War in Afghanistan since 2001 , Category: Battle in the war in Afghanistan since 2001 ). There are also articles describing the contribution of individual nations to the war in Afghanistan. These articles and other articles on special topics can be found in the War in Afghanistan category since 2001 or can be accessed directly via the link.

On June 18, 2013, ISAF returned security responsibility to the Afghan government.


The mandate was to support the provisional state organs of Afghanistan and their successor institutions in maintaining security in Afghanistan in such a way that both the Afghan state organs and the personnel of the United Nations and other international civilian personnel, in particular those involved in reconstruction and humanitarian tasks, were carried out , was able to work in a safe environment, and to provide security support in the performance of other tasks in support of the "Bonn Agreement".

The aim of ISAF was therefore to support the elected government of Afghanistan in creating and maintaining a safe environment in the country. First and foremost, the reconstruction of Afghanistan, the establishment of democratic structures and the assertiveness of the freely elected central government should be promoted. ISAF was originally supposed to operate completely separately from the Enduring Freedom mission . ISAF was allowed to use all means, including armed force, if this appeared necessary to comply with Resolution 1386 of the UN Security Council .

The UN mandate has been extended several times and its content expanded; it was last renewed on October 12, 2011 by resolution 2011 of the UN Security Council. While the ISAF area of ​​operations initially only extended to Kabul and the surrounding area, it was gradually expanded to other parts of the country between October 2003 and September 28, 2006.

The ISAF protection force had only limited rights against the civilian population; d. In other words, she was only allowed to assist the local authorities with criminal acts within the civilian population. In principle, she was entitled to defend herself in the event of threats against her personnel and material.

The ISAF troops should deliberately stay in the background when it comes to tasks assigned to the Afghan state organs and try to de-escalate. Vehicle checks, for example, are routinely carried out only by Afghan police units.

There was a collaboration with Operation Enduring Freedom.

In the summer of 2008 and again in the autumn, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe Bantz J. Craddock requested the lead North Atlantic Council of NATO that ISAF should also be authorized in future to combat the cultivation, processing and trafficking of drugs in order to finance the Taliban and other insurgent groups to withdraw through drug money, which is said to amount to around 100 million dollars a year. The ISAF was aware of the locations of drug laboratories and camps, but was not allowed to take action because this is the job of the Afghan police forces. According to Craddocks, they were not able to take action against larger drug groups for at least two years. In 2009, the US announced a change in strategy, according to which drug cultivation was no longer combated. The license granted at the end of 2008 for operations against drug laboratories and camps was temporarily suspended at the beginning of 2009, but later came back into force.

Outside of the ISAF legal framework, the legal situation of the ISAF soldiers was not clear, since the law of the nations involved applied when using firearms to avert danger to their own lives or that of their comrades.

When German soldiers were on patrols, helmets were not worn at first because they did not want to appear as a military occupying power. In addition, the soldiers of the first two contingents of the German protection force wore olive green camouflage suits so as not to be confused with the Americans. For patrols, the all-terrain vehicle Wolf was primarily chosen instead of the armored ATF Dingo. A use of firearms by German soldiers on ISAF missions, for example, would have been investigated by the German public prosecutor's office for its legality. On March 19, 2010, the Federal Prosecutor's Office decided, as part of the legal processing of the air attack near Kunduz , that the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan was a party to a non-international armed conflict ( civil war ). Accordingly, the International Criminal Code , not the German Criminal Code , primarily applied to the German soldiers .

A U.S. soldier secures a checkpoint in Kapisa, Afghanistan
UN resolutions
  • UN Security Council resolution 1943
  • UN Security Council Resolution 1890
  • UN Security Council Resolution 1833
  • UN Security Council resolution 1776
  • UN Security Council resolution 1707
  • UN Security Council resolution 1623
  • UN Security Council resolution 1563
  • UN Security Council resolution 1510
  • UN Security Council resolution 1444
  • UN Security Council resolution 1413
  • UN Security Council resolution 1378
  • UN Security Council resolution 1368
  • UN Security Council resolution 1363
  • UN Security Council resolution 1333


Decision of the first ISAF mandate

At the first Petersberg Afghanistan Conference , Afghan representatives decided on a step-by-step plan for the political transfer of responsibility with the aim of redesigning Afghanistan politically. Part of the plan was to ask the United Nations Security Council to authorize the deployment of an international security force. Your task should be to ensure security in the city and the surrounding area for the Afghan interim government under Hamid Karzai and the personnel of the United Nations Support Mission in Afghanistan after the military units of the United Front (or Northern Alliance) have withdrawn from Kabul . On the basis of this decision and a letter from the Foreign Minister of the Afghan interim government, Abdullah Abdullah, of December 19, 2001, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1386 (2001) on December 20, 2001, on a mandate limited to six months to set up an international security support force in Afghanistan.

"As the member of the Interim Administration responsible for foreign affairs, I should like to inform the Council that, taking into account all relevant considerations, an international security force could be deployed under Chapters VI or VII of the Charter."

"As the member of the transitional government responsible for foreign policy, I inform the Security Council, taking into account all relevant considerations, that an international security force can be set up in accordance with Chapter 6 or 7 of the UN Charter."

- Abdullah Abdullah, Foreign Minister of the Transitional Government of Afghanistan

Resolution 1386 stated that ISAF was established under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter . This allowed the use of armed force to fulfill the resolution.

On January 4, 2002, an agreement was reached between ISAF and the Afghan interim government on the specifics of the mission. This defines the rights and obligations of both contracting parties.

ISAF in Kabul

On December 22, 2001, the ISAF under British leadership in the person of John McColl took over the task of ensuring security in Kabul and the surrounding area. The agreed withdrawal of troops from the United Front turned out to be difficult. Other important tasks were securing the Loja Jirga, which began on June 11, 2002, to establish the transitional government, and the Loja Jirga, which began on December 14, 2003, to discuss and pass a constitution for Afghanistan. Furthermore, the establishment of the Afghan National Army as agreed at the Second Afghanistan Conference began . The ISAF trained up to 550 Afghans for the Afghan National Guard from early March to April 2002 . The United States then took over with the aim of raising a 70,000-strong army.

The UN Security Council initially resolved every six months and then annually in resolutions to extend the ISAF mandate and welcomed the takeover by one or more states until NATO took over ISAF command on a permanent basis . In resolution 1413 of 23 May 2002, the start of a command is welcomed by the United Kingdom, with Resolution 1444 of 27 November 2002 the command from 20 June 2002. passed to the Turkey and then together in Germany and the Netherlands . The 1st German-Dutch Corps, with Norbert van Heyst as ISAF commander, was in charge of the ISAF.

Outside of Kabul there was repeated fighting between militias of leaders of the United Front, which is why an expansion of the ISAF mandate beyond Kabul was repeatedly called for, but was rejected by the US government. In the areas outside of Kabul, mainly in the south and east of Afghanistan, US Americans and the Afghan fighters they hired initially only fought dispersed Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters . From the summer of 2003, however, the Taliban attacked again in some provinces, and since the Iraq war began on March 20, 2003, the resistance of the United States to an expansion of the ISAF mandate now also disappeared.

Extension of the mandate beyond Kabul

The area of operation of the ISAF was gradually expanded to other parts of the country following the resolution of UN Resolution 1510 of October 13, 2003. This was preceded by a letter dated October 10, 2003 from the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan for help from the ISAF troops for the areas outside Kabul and a letter dated October 6, 2003 from the Secretary-General of NATO for assistance. Despite the expansion of the mandate beyond Kabul, several thousand ISAF soldiers, mainly French and Turkish soldiers , remained stationed in Kabul itself .

In October 2003, the establishment or takeover of existing military bases and the so-called Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) began in the northern provinces of Afghanistan . For example, the German contribution to the war in Afghanistan included the takeover of the PRT established by the Americans in Kunduz . For example, Austrian soldiers of the 3rd contingent who were part of the Austrian mission in Afghanistan were also stationed in the Kunduz field camp there from July to October 2005 . Another very large camp in the north is Camp Marmal near the Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif , where thousands of soldiers from a large number of countries were stationed from September 2005. In 2005, the so-called Stage II also assumed responsibility for western Afghanistan. There the Italian contribution and the Spanish contribution to ISAF are most significant. On July 31, 2006, ISAF expanded its area of ​​responsibility through Stage III to the south of the country. For this purpose, ISAF grew from around 9,000 to 18,500 soldiers. On September 28, 2006, the North Atlantic Council decided to extend the mission to Eastern Afghanistan, Stage IV. An independent regional command was set up for the province of Kabul on August 6, 2006, and the Kabul Multinational Brigade was formally dissolved. Since 2006, the command there has been changing between Turkey, Italy and France , only to be transferred to the Afghan security forces in August 2008.

One of the important tasks of the ISAF in this phase was the security-related assistance in the organization of the presidential election starting on October 9, 2004, which was welcomed by the UN Security Council with resolution 1536 of March 26, 2004.

Simplified representation of the settlement areas of the largest ethnic groups, 1980

Another task was to prevent military conflict between the militias of leaders of the United Front, which ISAF succeeded in doing. On the other hand, it was less successful in protecting residents of ethnic enclaves, for example those of the Pashtuns in northern Afghanistan, from displacement and lawlessness or partial legal interpretation by the local or regional administration.

“A few kilometers behind Mazar-e Sharif is a Pashtun enclave that, at first glance, does not differ in any way from the Tajik villages around. (The Pashtun community chief is quoted): In the province of Balkh, numerous lands have simply been taken from the Pashtuns. Despite all the documents and deeds. Nobody can defend themselves against this theft. "

- Marc Thörner : Deutschlandradio Kultur, August 25, 2010

The situation in the south and east of Afghanistan was different, as the Pashtuns are the dominant ethnic group here and the Taliban began to come back from the neighboring Pakistani parts of the country across the border into Afghanistan and set up weapons caches as early as the end of 2002 . The first guerrilla attacks began in early 2003 and soon the UN and many aid organizations withdrew from the south. In the south, in the provinces of Helmand and Kandahar , the assumption of responsibility by ISAF in the summer of 2006 meant the immediate conduct of combat operations. For the British participation in the war in Afghanistan , this meant that after their less dangerous mission in the north, they had to wage the heaviest fighting in Helmand province. The Canadian participation in the ISAF mission was similar, with the Canadians directly from Kabul, still under mandate of the Operation Enduring Freedom went to Kandahar in August 2005. Other states sent soldiers to the south with the expansion of ISAF, including, for example, the Danish ISAF contribution in the Helmand province alongside the British or the Dutch and Australian ISAF contribution in the Uruzgan province .

At first only some of the US soldiers still assigned to Operation Enduring Freedom were assigned to ISAF when the ISAF mission was expanded to include eastern Afghanistan. However, since the ISAF mission in southern Afghanistan was not possible without military support from the United States, most US soldiers were gradually placed under the mandate of ISAF. The closer operational cooperation between ISAF and Operation Enduring Freedom was mentioned for the first time with Resolution 1659 of February 15, 2006, even before ISAF had extended its area of ​​responsibility to the south of the country. On June 3, 2008, David D. McKiernan became the commander of ISAF and on October 6, 2008, he was also the commander of almost all US soldiers in Afghanistan .

From 2008/2009, French and Polish soldiers , in cooperation with US troops, took on security responsibility for one province each in the US-led regional command east. From 2010 Georgian combat troops in southern Afghanistan also took part.

With Resolution 1776 of September 19, 2007, the UN Security Council condemned for the first time the "attacks on Afghan and international troops, namely attacks with improvised explosive devices, suicide attacks and kidnappings" by "the Taliban and other extremist groups".

New US strategy for Afghanistan

When the US presidency changed from George W. Bush to Barack Obama in January 2009 , a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan was developed. Although the US president changed, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who had come into office under Bush in November 2006, remained in office. At that time he replaced Donald Rumsfeld , who had been in office since 2001 .

The Afghan war consists of a publicly known and a secret part, whereby the secret military actions of the United States are not carried out by soldiers assigned to the ISAF. On February 17, 2009, Obama initially sent an additional 17,000 soldiers under ISAF command to the south and east to the 36,000 US soldiers (13,000 under ISAF command) in Afghanistan, and on December 1, 2009 he announced another 30,000 US soldiers for 2010 on. In May 2009, David D. McKiernan was succeeded by Stanley A. McChrystal , who was commander of the United States Joint Special Operations Command in the war in Iraq .

Further aspects of the new strategy are the increased numbers and a changed training concept for the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police , as well as a different approach to the Afghan population. This is also reflected in Resolution 1890 of the UN Security Council of October 8, 2009, in which ISAF and the other partners are encouraged to “train the Afghan national security forces, give them guidance and give them more responsibility”. The new strategy was bitter for the Afghan people as the number of civilians killed rose from 2,118 people in 2008 to 2,777 people in 2010. However, the number of civilians killed by the Afghan government and ISAF fell from 39 percent to 16 percent. In 2010 the insurgents killed 1,141 civilians with booby traps and 462 civilians with targeted killings.

With Resolution 1917 of March 22, 2010, the UN Security Council resolved to cooperate between ISAF and the newly created High Civil Representative of NATO.

In order to hand over responsibility for security in Afghanistan, the Afghanistan Conference on July 20, 2010 in Kabul decided on the Joint Afghan-NATO Inteqal Board (JANIB; inteqāl means “handover” or “transition” in Dari and Pashto). Under the joint leadership of the Afghan government, the ISAF and the High Civil Representative, a decision is made as to which parts of the country can be released from the responsibility of the ISAF. The aim is to reduce the number of ISAF soldiers in these areas. Other tasks include handing over responsibility for important Afghan institutions and functions and shifting the tasks of the PRTs away from the military. Resolution 1943 of October 13, 2010 was the first time the UN Security Council addressed the gradual handover of responsibility for security in Afghanistan to Afghan security forces. The handover of responsibility should be completed in spring 2013.

Successor Mission

After the end of the combat mission on December 31, 2014, the follow-up mission Resolute Support, comprising 13,500 soldiers, began to provide training, advice and training (Train Advise and Assist; TAA) for the Afghan security forces. This should last until the end of 2016. On September 30, 2014, the Afghan government signed the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the USA and the NATO-AFG Status of Forces Agreement. The agreements regulate the official status of foreign troops in Afghanistan.


After ISAF was mandated and set up in December 2001, ISAF was led by one or more nations. On August 9, 2003, NATO assumed responsibility for the management, planning and support of the ISAF mission through a UN mandate. ISAF is operationally managed by the Allied Joint Force Command Headquarters Brunssum ( JFC Brunssum ) in the Netherlands.

On September 9, 2008, the ISAF commander David D. McKiernan was nominated to additionally take command of the US Forces Afghanistan . The US Forces Afghanistan were until then led by the Regional Commander East, a major general of the US armed forces .

After General Stanley A. McChrystal took command of ISAF and US Forces Afghanistan in 2009, the ISAF command structure was changed. In July 2009 Lieutenant General David M. Rodriguez assumed the post of Deputy Commander of the US Forces Afghanistan under the command of McChrystal . In addition, in October 2009 a subordinate headquarters was set up within the NATO command structure under the ISAF headquarters. It is a corps- level headquarters and deals with the day-to-day business of ISAF. This intermediate level in the chain of command, which the US armed forces have already established in a similar way with the Multi-National Force Iraq , is intended to relieve the ISAF commander so that he can concentrate on the strategic level. This includes the formation and maintenance of relationships and coordination with the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, non-governmental organizations and the training of the Afghan security forces. The name of this new command is ISAF Joint Command (IJC).

Nations involved

US soldiers greeting a local resident
Romanian ISAF soldiers
German soldiers with
ATF Dingo vehicles

In October 2009, 43 nations (NATO and non-NATO countries) with around 71,030 soldiers, including around 28,900 from the United States , took part in the ISAF . The European Union provided around 30,800 soldiers, including around 8,300 from Great Britain, 3380 from Germany, 3160 from France, 2800 from Italy and 2000 from Poland. (As of October 22, 2009)

In 2010 the quotas were increased significantly. In January 2012, 50 countries were involved in ISAF with 129,895 soldiers, 90,000 of them from the United States.

Country As of January 2012 As of October 2014
AlbaniaAlbania Albania * 286 11
ArmeniaArmenia Armenia 126 121
AzerbaijanAzerbaijan Azerbaijan 94 94
AustraliaAustralia Australia 1,550 271
BelgiumBelgium Belgium * 520 55
Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina 55 8th
BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria * 604 320
DenmarkDenmark Denmark * 750 149
GermanyGermany Germany * 4,715 1,707
EstoniaEstonia Estonia * 150 2
FinlandFinland Finland * 156 90
FranceFrance France * 3,491 90
GeorgiaGeorgia Georgia 1,570 755
GreeceGreece Greece * 154 9
IcelandIceland Iceland ** 4th 3
IrelandIreland Ireland * 7th 7th
ItalyItaly Italy * 3,956 1,400
JordanJordan Jordan 0 616
CanadaCanada Canada * 510 0
CroatiaCroatia Croatia * 312 153
LatviaLatvia Latvia * 185 18th
LithuaniaLithuania Lithuania * 237 72
LuxembourgLuxembourg Luxembourg * 11 1
MongoliaMongolia Mongolia 114 40
MontenegroMontenegro Montenegro 39 25th
NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands * 167 16
New ZealandNew Zealand New Zealand 189 1
NorwayNorway Norway * 487 58
AustriaAustria Austria 3 3
PolandPoland Poland * 2,472 65
PortugalPortugal Portugal * 117 57
RomaniaRomania Romania * 1,876 317
SwedenSweden Sweden 500 13
SingaporeSingapore Singapore 39 0
SlovakiaSlovakia Slovakia * 330 12
SloveniaSlovenia Slovenia * 77 2
SpainSpain Spain * 1,502 181
Korea SouthSouth Korea South Korea 350 0
North MacedoniaNorth Macedonia North Macedonia 163 152
TongaTonga Tonga 55 0
Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic * 626 227
TurkeyTurkey Turkey * 1,846 367
UkraineUkraine Ukraine 23 14th
HungaryHungary Hungary * 412 84
United StatesUnited States United States * 90,000 24,050
United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates 35 35
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom * 9,500 2,839
NATO countries 125.297 32,265
Non-NATO countries 4,598 2,247
total 129,895 34,512
* NATO countries
(Source: NATO)


The leadership of ISAF in Afghanistan has been ensured by a NATO headquarters since the end of 2003:

  • ISAF I: United Kingdom, December 2001 - June 2002.
  • ISAF II: Turkey, June 2002 - February 2003.
  • ISAF III: Germany and the Netherlands, February 2003.
  • ISAF IV: Germany, October 2003.
  • ISAF V: Canada, October 2003 - August 2004.
  • ISAF VI: Eurocorps , August 2004 - February 2005
  • ISAF VII: Turkey (NRDC-T, NATO Rapid Deployable Corps ), February 2005 - August 2005.
  • ISAF VIII: Italy (NRDC-IT, NATO Rapid Deployable Corps ) August 2005 - April 2006.
  • ISAF IX: United Kingdom (ARRC, Allied Rapid Reaction Corps ), May 2006 - April 2007.
  • ISAF X – XII: United States, since May 2007.

Until March 19, 2002, the Bundeswehr's ISAF mission ran as an advance command under the leadership of the commander of the German-Dutch-Danish-Austrian task force . Their commander was Brigadier General Carl-Hubertus von Butler , who took over the command of the Kabul Multinational Brigade (KMNB) on March 19, 2002 . He held this position until June 17, 2002.

His successor was Brigadier General Manfred Schlenker . He led the KMNB from June 17, 2002 to December 17, 2002. Then until July 17, 2003 Brigadier General Werner Freers led the KMNB.

The commanders of the ISAF differ from the commanders mentioned above, who among other things lead the KMNB, but also have other activities. These commanders of the ISAF (COMISAF) were / are:

No. Surname nation Beginning of the appointment End of appointment Management contingent
1 John McColl United Kingdom December 22, 2001 June 18, 2002 -
2 Hilmi Akin Zorlu Turkey June 18, 2002 February 10, 2003 -
3 Norbert van Heyst Germany / Netherlands February 10, 2003 August 10, 2003 1st German-Dutch Corps
4th Götz Gliemeroth Germany August 11, 2003 February 9, 2004 First NATO-led / Joint Headquarters Center / Heidelberg
5 Rick Hillier Canada February 9, 2004 August 7, 2004 -
6th Jean-Louis Py France August 7, 2004 February 12, 2005 Eurocorps
7th Ethem Erdagi Turkey February 13, 2005 August 4, 2005 NATO Rapid Deployable Corps - Turkey (NRDC-T)
8th Mauro Del Vecchio Italy August 5, 2005 May 4, 2006 NATO Rapid Deployable Corps - Italy (NRDC-I)
9 David J. Richards United Kingdom May 5, 2006 February 4, 2007 Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps
10 Dan K. McNeill United States February 4, 2007 June 3, 2008 NATO and Combined Forces Command Afghanistan U.S. Forces
11 David D. McKiernan United States June 3, 2008 June 15, 2009 NATO and US Forces Afghanistan
12 Stanley A. McChrystal United States June 15, 2009 June 23, 2010 NATO and US Forces Afghanistan
interim Nicholas R. Parker United Kingdom June 23, 2010 4th July 2010 Deputy commander of ISAF
13 David H. Petraeus United States 4th July 2010 July 18, 2011 NATO and US Forces Afghanistan
14th John R. Allen United States July 18, 2011 February 10, 2013 NATO and US Forces Afghanistan
15th Joseph F. Dunford United States February 10, 2013 August 26, 2014 NATO and US Forces Afghanistan
16 John F. Campbell United States August 26, 2014 December 31, 2014 NATO and US Forces Afghanistan


Leading nations of the reconstruction teams (PRT) and regional commands (status: 2007)

The ISAF commander has various troop elements at his disposal in Afghanistan:

  • The ISAF Headquarters (ISAF HQ) is located in the Afghan capital Kabul and serves as the operational command for the entire mission. More than 600 soldiers from 28 nations (as of January 2006) serve here. ISAF HQ and its subordinate units work closely with the Afghan government and coordinate their activities with organizations such as the UN mission UNAMA , international organizations and various non-governmental organizations . From here there is close coordination with the CFC-A ( Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan ), which is leading Operation “Enduring Freedom” (OEF) in Afghanistan.
  • There are currently 26 Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT). They represent the main troop element of ISAF in the individual provinces of the country. They are designed in such a way that they provide both military cooperation with the provincial government and serve as a focus for the international community in order to promote economic development in the various regions. Likewise, they act as another factor in enhancing the authority of the central government.
  • To the efforts of the PRTs coordinate regionally better are five so-called Regional Command was s (RC) was established (formerly RAC - Regional Area Coordinator ). You manage logistics and control the command structure:
    • RC-Nord (RC North) in Mazar-e Sharif is responsible for the PRTs in Maimana, Pol-e Chomri , Mazar-e Sharif, Kunduz and Faisabad. In August 2010, as part of the partnering concept, the Bundeswehr set up a “ Training and Protection Battalion (ASB) Kunduz”, which is under the direct command of the Regional Command North (RC North). This maneuver unit is no longer tied exclusively to PRT Kunduz.
    • RC-West in Herat is responsible for the PRTs in Farah, Chagcharan, Qaleh-ye-Now and Herat.
    • RC-Süd (RC South) in Kandahar covers the areas of responsibility of the PRTs Kandahar, Qalat, Tarin Kowt and Lashkar Gah.
    • RC Capital, formerly called Kabul Multinational Brigade , is the group of tactical troops responsible for security support in and around Kabul (including the airport). The main elements are three multinational battle groups that conduct patrols, often together with the Afghan armed forces or the Afghan police.
    • RC-Ost (RC East) in Bagram for the PRTs in the east and southeast of the country.
  • There are also Forward Support Bases (FSB), which serve as logistical bases. For example, you can ensure medical evacuation and thus improve the security situation of the PRTS. FSBs were located in Mazar-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan, western Herat and southern Kandahar.
  • The so-called Air Task Force (ATF) is responsible for the planning and execution of all operations and movements of the ISAF air force in Afghanistan. ATF coordinates the airspace and works together with Afghan civil aviation. One of the most important airports for ISAF is Kabul International Airport (KAIA).



On December 22, 2001, ISAF began its work in Kabul under British command ; the first official act was to guard the inauguration of the transitional government. Previously, in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Operation Enduring Freedom began on October 7, 2001 under the leadership of the USA . In the next few years, the two interventions ran simultaneously with varying degrees of overlap . On December 22, 2001 the German Bundestag decided for the first time that the Bundeswehr was to be deployed in Afghanistan.


The actual deployment agreement between the transitional government and the then chief ISAF general was signed on January 4, 2002.


On May 26, 2003, when an airplane crashed in Turkey, the crew and all 62 Spanish ISAF soldiers who wanted to fly back from Afghanistan to their homeland died.

After a long discussion, in December 2003 the Bundeswehr's ISAF mission was extended to the city of Kunduz.


Flag on German ISAF vehicles - the lettering means Ālmān , "Germany"

Since around June 10, 2004, discussions have been held to expand the deployment of the Bundeswehr to the city and province of Feyzabad. In terms of personnel, this meant an increase in the contingents of around 150 soldiers with the participation of Dutch units.

In September 2004, a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) was also set up in Feyzabad . In January 2005 the move from the new town of Feyzabad to the new field camp "Camp Feyzabad" at the airfield took place. Poland has sent 1,500 ISAF soldiers to Afghanistan since 2004. These numbers were increased again to around 2,500 soldiers. Denmark has participated in the PRT with 40 soldiers since January 2005 and the Czech Republic with 40 soldiers since March 2005.

After a transition phase, the Regional Command North (initially referred to as the " Regional Area Command ") is stationed in Mazar-e Sharif , which coordinates various construction teams.

For the presidential elections on October 9, 2004 and the elections to parliament and provincial governments in September 2005, NATO support troops were sent to Afghanistan to deal with the worsening security situation.


On February 10, 2005, NATO announced the expansion of its operations into western Afghanistan. Beginning on May 31, 2005, the establishment of two additional Provincial Construction Teams in Herat and Farah as well as a Forward Operating Base in Herat expanded the area of ​​operations of ISAF to around 50% of the territory of Afghanistan.

At a special meeting on September 28, 2005, the Bundestag and cabinet decided by a large majority to expand the mandate, increasing the number to 3,000 soldiers and extending the duration of the mission by one year to October 13, 2006. As a result, the Federal Republic of Germany provided the largest contingent of ISAF troops until July 2006.

Camp Marmal in Mazar-e Sharif

With the new distribution of the responsibilities of the PRTs, the Bundeswehr began in December 2005 to set up the new Camp Marmal camp in Mazar-e Sharif .


On March 22, 2006 in Kabul, command of the German ISAF contingent in Afghanistan was handed over from Brigadier General Achim Lidsba to Brigadier General Christof Munzlinger by the commander of the Bundeswehr Operations Command, Lieutenant General Karlheinz Viereck .

Brigadier General Christof Munzlinger handed over command of the German soldiers to Brigadier General Markus Kneip at a solemn ceremony in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan at the beginning of July 2006. Since June 1, Kneip has commanded the International Protection Force ISAF throughout northern Afghanistan. The handover to his successor Brigadier General Volker Barth took place at the end of December.

The summer of 2006 was marked by a major offensive as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) by American and British forces against suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters in southern Afghanistan. In the meantime, Bundeswehr soldiers have also been regularly attacked in the previously rather quiet north. It became clear that the attackers did not differentiate between soldiers from the ISAF protection force and the anti-terrorist operation Enduring Freedom . Through increased self-protection measures of the ISAF forces, v. a. the work of the ISAF reconstruction teams in the country and the necessary contact with the population are massively difficult.

July 31, 2006: ISAF took command in southern Afghanistan.

On September 28, 2006, the Bundestag approved an application by the federal government for an extension for a further year. The mandate also enables German soldiers to move throughout Afghanistan if this is necessary for the assignment within the framework of the ISAF operation.

On October 5, 2006, the last phase of the expansion of the ISAF area of ​​operations was completed with the assumption of responsibility for the east of the country and the subordination of the predominantly US troops there under ISAF.


Dutch self-propelled howitzer 2000 firing at Taliban positions, June 16, 2007

On March 9, 2007, the German Bundestag approved the Federal Government's proposal to send six Tornado reconnaissance aircraft to support the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. The tornadoes are supposed to provide ISAF with aerial images from all over Afghanistan.

April 28, 2007: Almost two weeks after the reconnaissance flights of the six Bundeswehr tornadoes began in Afghanistan, the nose wheel buckled when a plane landed.

October 2007 Operation Harekate Yolo : Under German command and participation, the first major operation to combat insurgents in northern Afghanistan is undertaken together with the Afghan army, Norway and several other smaller contingents.


January 2008: NATO requests a German task force for northern Afghanistan from the Federal Ministry of Defense, which is to replace the 240 soldiers of a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) provided by Norway since the beginning of 2006 from summer 2008. Parts of Panzer Brigade 21 will provide these forces. The QRF will consist of around 205 soldiers and be equipped with protected transport vehicles Dingo 2 , Wolf and the Marder 1A5 armored personnel carrier .

On June 13, 2008, the Taliban stormed a prison in Kandahar and freed all inmates; around 1,150 suspected extremists, including around 400 Taliban.


In August 2009, NATO approved the US proposal for a subordinate headquarters under ISAF headquarters, the ISAF Joint Command (IJC). It is a tactical headquarters, which is to deal with the "day-to-day business" of the ISAF. This intermediate level in the chain of command, which the US armed forces have already established in a similar way with the Multi-National Force Iraq , is intended to relieve the ISAF commander so that he can concentrate on the operational and strategic level. This includes the formation and maintenance of relationships and coordination with the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan , non-governmental organizations and the training of the Afghan security forces. The commander of the IJC is US Lieutenant General David M. Rodriguez , who has been General McChrystal's deputy within the US chain of command of the US Forces Afghanistan , the regional command of all US armed forces in Afghanistan, since summer 2009 .

On September 4, there was a controversial air strike near Kunduz , in which up to 142 people died.


Danish and US soldier in Camp Warehouse

On January 28, 2010, the Afghanistan Conference 2010 took place in London .

As agreed in London, a follow-up conference was held on July 20, 2010 in Kabul. This was the first major international conference in Afghanistan since 1970. At the invitation of the Afghan government, 70 delegations, including 39 foreign ministers and 10 heads of international organizations, including the secretaries-general of the United Nations and NATO, took part. The conference, including the extensive security concept, was prepared and carried out by the Afghan government and its security forces in close cooperation with ISAF. It was thus a visible expression of Afghan sovereignty and evidence of the significantly increased effectiveness of the Afghan security forces. As a result of the Kabul conference, a roadmap for the future of the country was agreed, which includes the creation of more efficient Afghan institutions and further aid from the international community. At this conference, the Afghan government committed itself to improving the lives of all Afghans by improving public and government services, establishing law and order, fighting corruption and promoting economic development. The Afghan security forces should be able to conduct security operations in all parts of the country by the end of 2014. At the same time, a mechanism was agreed between the Afghan government and NATO, with the help of which security responsibility is to be handed over to the Afghans ( Transition / Inteqal ).


541 Taliban, including 106 Taliban commanders, escaped from a maximum security prison in Kandahar through a 360-meter-long tunnel. More than 1,000 prisoners fled the same prison in 2008.

On August 6, 2011, a Chinook transport helicopter carrying 8 Afghan and 30 US soldiers, including 22 Navy Seals , was shot down by the Taliban. It is not clear with which type of weapon the shooting took place.


In August 2012 it was decided that ISAF troops must always carry loaded weapons.


On September 21, 2013 in Paktia , Afghanistan, an unknown attacker in army clothing murdered three soldiers from the international protection force and slightly injured another Bundeswehr soldier.

On November 3, 2013, an ISAF member was killed in an attack on a checkpoint in Dehravod district in Urusgan province .


The German soldiers and some other nations are supplied by rented large-capacity aircraft of the type Antonow An-124 and Ilyushin Il-76 from the airports Leipzig / Halle and Trollenhagen directly to Mazar-e Sharif and via an air force base in Termez ( Uzbekistan ), on which a unit of the Bundeswehr is stationed. A French air force base is located in Dushanbe (Tajikistan). From Termez, the German Armed Forces supply the various military camps in Kabul (e.g. the Camp Warehouse ) and the bases of the PRT teams in Kunduz with regular flights with Transall aircraft , while Feyzabad is due to the runway unsuitable for the Transall of Feyzabad International Airport FIA is only served with C130-Hercules. Overall, the Air Force achieved a good 45% share of all transport flight hours in Afghanistan with the Transall in 2008.

The costs of the Bundeswehr deployment for the mission are said to have amounted to 8.8 billion euros.


Web links

Commons : International Security Assistance Force  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
 Wikinews: ISAF  - on the news

Individual evidence

  1. Application by the Federal Government to continue the participation of armed German forces in the deployment of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan under the leadership of NATO on the basis of resolutions 1386 (2001) of December 20, 2001, 1413 (2002) of May 23, 2002, 1444 (2002 ) of November 27, 2002, 1510 (2003) of October 13, 2003 and 1563 (2004) of September 17, 2004 of the United Nations Security Council, BT-Drs. 15/3710
  2. Tagesschau : Afghanistan Mission of the Bundeswehr expanded: Parliament for "Tornado" operation ( archive), March 9, 2007.
  3. IMI : Afghanistan: the German role , October 2007 (PDF; 612 kB)
  4. Jane's Defense Weekly , October 15, 2008, p. 19.
  5. ^ Drug cultivation in Afghanistan. n-tv, June 27, 2009, accessed March 24, 2012 .
  6. CUSTOMER AFFAIR: Guttenberg in trouble ( Memento from September 5, 2012 in the web archive )
  7. Resolution 1943 of the UN Security Council (PDF; 53 kB)
  8. a b c Resolution 1890 of the UN Security Council (PDF; 511 kB)
  9. Resolution 1833 of the UN Security Council (PDF; 38 kB)
  10. Resolution 1776 of the UN Security Council (PDF; 499 kB)
  11. Resolution 1623 of the UN Security Council (PDF; 1.63 MB)
  12. Resolution 1563 of the UN Security Council (PDF; 2.14 MB)
  13. a b Resolution 1510 of the UN Security Council (PDF; 1.88 MB)
  14. a b Resolution 1444 of the UN Security Council (PDF; 1.80 MB)
  15. a b Resolution 1413 of the UN Security Council (PDF; 2.71 MB)
  16. Resolution 1378 of the UN Security Council (PDF; 2.71 MB)
  17. Resolution 1363 of the UN Security Council (PDF; 2.71 MB)
  18. Resolution 1333 of the UN Security Council (PDF; 1.53 MB)
  19. Application by the Federal Government to the German Bundestag on the basis of the cabinet decision of December 21, 2001 (PDF; 17 kB)
  20. NATO: Resolution 1386 (2001) (PDF; 103 kB)
  21. UN: Resolution 1386 (2001) (German) (PDF; 33 kB)
  22. Security Council 2001 document (S-2001-1223) - Letter dated 19 December 2001 from the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council ( Memento of November 21, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 92 kB)
  23. Web archive: Military Technical Agreement - Between the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Interim Administration of Afghanistan (PDF; 694 kB)
  24. Brookings: Building an Afghan National Guard, January 2002
  25. Ravi Rikhye: Afghan National Army. ( Memento of January 11, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) October 2003.
  26. Decree of the President of the Islamic Transitional State of Afghanistan on the Afghan National Army, issued on December 1, 2002 (PDF; 20 kB)
  27. Resolution 1536 of the UN Security Council (PDF; 2.0 MB)
  28. Deutschlandradio Kultur: The War Behind the War
  29. Ahmed Rashid: Fall into Chaos: Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Return of the Taliban. Pp. 137-140, ISBN 978-3-942377-00-3 .
  30. Resolution 1659 of the UN Security Council (PDF; 1.7 MB)
  31. a b c Resolution 1776 of the UN Security Council (PDF; 511 kB)
  32. a b Commander's Initial Assessment - August 30, 2009 (PDF; 1.7 MB)
  33. Helene Cooper, The New York Times, February 17, 2009: Putting Stamp on Afghan War, Obama Will Send 17,000 Troops - last accessed October 7, 2010
  34. UNAMA: Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, 2008 ( Memento of August 25, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 636 kB)
  35. UNAMA: Annual Report 2010 on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict ( Memento of September 4, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 538 kB)
  36. Resolution 1917 ( Memento of November 11, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) of the UN Security Council
  37. ^ NATO wants a civil commissioner
  38. NATO: Backgrounder - Transition (PDF; 119 kB)
  39. Resolution 1943 of the UN Security Council (PDF; 548 kB)
  40. FAZ: America's armed forces from spring in support role, January 11, 2013
  41. United States - Department of Defense: General Officer Announcement , September 9, 2008.
  42. a b ISAF Troop Contribution Placement, January 9, 2012 (PDF; 2.0 MB)
  43. ^ Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan. ( Memento of November 2, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Department of Defense Report, October 2014 (PDF; 1.3 MB)
  44. BBC: Georgian soldiers killed in Afghanistan attack
  45. Canada Afghan mission 'ends 2011'
  46. Harper Says 2011 'end date' for Afghanistan mission (outdated)
  47. Canada won't rethink 2011 Afghanistan pullout after Obama win: Cannon. ( Memento from January 31, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) In: CBC News. November 5, 2008.
  48. ^ The 20,000 image made available to ISAF , April 28, 2009.
  49. Afghanistan: Bundeswehr tornado crashed , April 28, 2007.
  50. Zeit-online: NATO asks for an emergency force for Afghanistan , dpa, Reuters, January 29, 2008.
  51. NGO Online: Panzerbrigade 21 provides QRF unit for Afghanistan from summer
  52. Protect - Help - Mediate - Fight: The German Quick Reaction Force introduces itself , March 19, 2008.
  53. Taliban storm Kandahar prison. (No longer available online.) Spiegel Online, June 13, 2008, archived from the original on April 23, 2010 ; Retrieved April 23, 2010 .
  54. United States - Department of Defense: NATO Approves Intermediate Headquarters for Afghanistan , August 14, 2009.
  55. Kabul International Conference on Afghanistan Communiqué , July 20, 2010 (PDF; 119 kB)
  56. Hundreds flee Kandahar prison. Süddeutsche Zeitung, April 25, 2011, accessed on March 26, 2012 .
  57. US helicopter shot down in Afghanistan. Telepolis, August 6, 2011, accessed March 26, 2012 .
  58. Copter Downed by Taliban Fire; Elite US Unit Among Dead. The New York Times, August 6, 2011, accessed March 26, 2012 .
  59. Chinook down. Frankfurter Allgemeine Blogs, August 8, 2011, accessed on March 26, 2012 .
  60. Taliban shoot down US helicopters - many dead. Spiegel Online, August 6, 2011, accessed March 26, 2012 .
  61. ISAF troops must now always carry loaded weapons. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on April 6, 2015 ; accessed on January 13, 2015 .
  62. Three ISAF soldiers killed in an insider attack in Afghanistan. ( Memento from September 25, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) In: Greenpeace Magazin . 21st September 2013.
  63. Washington Post : Officials: 1 NATO service member, 2 police officers killed by small-arms fire in Afghanistan ( memento of November 4, 2013 in the web archive ) of November 3, 2013.
  64. ^ NATO's Afghan Drawdown Poses Logistics Challenges
  65. Last flights from Trollenhagen to Afghanistan
  66. ^ Mobility Compendium
  67. Answer of the Federal Government to the minor question from MPs Paul Schäfer (Cologne), Heike Hänsel, Katrin Kunert, other MPs and the DIE LINKE parliamentary group. - BT-Drs. 16/1759
  68., 200 Mercedes scrapped: Isaf mission costs almost nine billion. March 20, 2015